Monday, October 6, 2008

American White Collar Work Ethic, Vol 67

There was an episode of Friends where a coworker of Chandler's thought his name was Toby. Being the bastion of sitcom sarcasm that he was, Chandler thought the time for polite correction had passed, thus never correcting him until something funny happened that I can't remember. The point is, there are people out there that think like situations like this and those that happen on The Office are pulled from some deep, dark comedy chasm rather than culled from real-life escapades.

Not true. The office is just as boring, pointless and stupid as depicted. In fact, unless you've spent some time there, you have no idea. It is very much like prison. The food sucks, you are in an enclosed space and you're lucky if you see daylight.

Like Chandler, I have managed to maneuver my way through more than just some security badge mix-ups. I have done much more. However sad and silly, I have carved a niche for myself that would boggle those with managerial aspirations and infuriate job seekers.

This is how you do it:

First, you need a job that is beneath you. The job does not have to be demeaning; it has to be below your skill set. The job I am describing was my first in a new city so it's a good excuse. You need income and sometimes you can't be picky. Your resume and experience usually blow away the competition. My experience had almost no bearing on the job I applied for but I still impressed them with a moderate interview.

Once you start, you have to be on time and lay low. Most companies care more about numbers than performance. Attendance can be as important as doing your job well. Ooh, that is another tip. Gauge your fellow employees as quickly as possible. You should know within a week or two the level of expectation from the quality of employees you work with. Are there sleepers and people that come to work drunk? Are there retirees, junkies and college dropouts? Find out who they are and avoid all of them.

Now, if you are awake, sober and on time you will soon stand out. Its time to ascertain the managerial structure. Are they offering more work for basically the same pay? Are there 'volunteer' opportunities that only get you noticed but don't include any bonuses? Here's my secret: Go ahead and volunteer a few times. It’s a good way to break up the monotony of your day. Soon management will discover that you are a vital part of their team and they will attempt to mistreat you and put too much work on your plate. Their job is to not hone your skills or encourage your work ethic. They are there to punish you daily and see how much you can take. What they're looking for are those who eat shit and lick it off their lips with a smile. Just a few times, help out and try not to kill anyone. When it is time to bail you must remember this; it is crucial. Time this just right. You tell them you need to 'roll back' your responsibilities.

You need an excuse. Illness is good. 'Parental responsibilities' is better. They'll believe any lie you give them. Tell them you have the gout or the plague. The heebie jeebies.

Unless of course you want to feel alive and wanted and useful and human. Then no, I don't recommend this. I recommend a carpentry apprenticeship, a medical practice or a few years in a bakery to feel all of that. I just know how to get people to leave you alone so you can write stuff.

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