Labeling

The utility maintenance worker spends his day repairing equipment with several different companies’ names cast, embossed, printed, or hand-written on them. The company he works for isn’t the one that was created in a court-ordered break-up twenty years ago, though they bear the same name. His company is the end result of a web of mergers, acquisitions, sheded subsidiaries, new markets, bankruptcies, and other transactions. The company name came from one transaction, the manhole covers from another, and the board of directors from yet another.

Somewhere in a closet someone has a dusty old telephone with the words “Property of [The Company]” embossed onto the plastic shell. If the phone were ever returned (even though it has The Company’s name on it), the equipment would have to be dated and they’d have to backtrack through the various mergers to find out if the phone really belonged to them.

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