Written by Shelley Plett Wednesday, 22 August 2007 06:30
“Yes, I was the first one out (during the fire). And yes, I’ve heard ‘women and children first.’ But we do not employ children. We are not a sweatshop, thankfully. And women are equal in the workplace by law. So if I let them out first, I have a lawsuit on my hands.” —Michael Scott (Steve Carell) from “The Office”
Assistant regional manager Dwight Schrute, mistakenly thinking he’s about to be promoted, paints his boss’s office black in order to intimidate his subordinates.
If you know what I’m talking about, you’ve seen “The Office.” If you’re still laughing about that episode, you’re a member of the brotherhood. It seems like people either get this show and love it or flat out don’t, with few in-betweens.
I’m a lover. For one, it’s hilarious. But it may also be that I’ve worked alongside every person in the fictitious Dunder Miflin employee pool. It’s scary accurate.
I’ve had the overly confident manager “Michael,” who misjudges his influence over his staff. I’ve worked with the tolerant receptionist “Pam,” who has more intelligence than the combined management team. I’ve watched the young gun “Jim” bide his time, wondering every day if he should fight or flee.
I’ve endured psycho “Andy,” who should have been forced into anger management classes or banned from interacting with other people altogether. And I’ve known “Roy,” the guy who’s never let go of his college days and spends every Monday morning wearing dark sunglasses and replenishing his liquids.
It doesn’t matter if the office is in a town of a thousand or a city of 200,000. Personalities are different, but as a whole, large groups of employees will be about the same.
Back to the worst of the worst. I have had to answer to exactly two managers with angry “Andy” personalities—and there is no job in the world worth being told you, along with your entire team are (to quote) “complete idiots.” That’s when the words “life is too short” make a lot of sense.
One example is a small company I worked for right out of high school. It was just me, the owner and his (now ex) wife. We did have a graphic designer that stayed on about four months, and he was always amazed I held out for two years.
What did I learn? How not to treat your spouse, kids, employees and customers. That it’s actually a bad idea to punch walls and have your little girl hang a picture to cover the hole. You probably shouldn’t repeatedly bring your spouse to tears at work or yell down to your employees either. Eventually they’ll leave. And your wife might, too.
With real-world bills, the average person may have to clock into jobs that are less than ideal. But that doesn’t mean they’re not worth it. There are lessons to be learned from waitressing at a truck stop during the graveyard shift that sociology class just doesn’t cover. Actually, I only made it three nights at the truck stop. By then I had served 2 a.m. biscuits and gravy to one too many stumbling bar hoppers.
There are people who are easy to work with, mildly tolerable, and those who make you groan every time they walk through the door. And when the time comes, there’s the one worthy of a handshake only when you’re walking out for the very last time.
“The Office” is a great place to visit once a week. Sometimes it makes me miss the variety of personalities found in a larger office. But experience tells me it’s better to miss out on lunch with “Pam” in order to avoid one more meltdown from “Andy.”