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Corporate Work

A time comes when every cubicle hand looks around and says, "This is not how I planned it."

Your neighbor has been clearing his throat non-stop since November. The copy girl is bringing more memos Effective Immediately. Your manager is already at your desk, but you can't hear him over the smell of his breath.

You catch eyes with a temp across the street. This has happened before. Eventually, the pain grows too rich and you both draw the shades.

Your smart friends are already living the American Dream: workers' comp lawsuit. They won't return to work until they are good and sick of Oprah Winfrey. Their children are also at home, having torched their lemonade stands for insurance money.

When your career counselor asked about your future, there was no talk of touch points or peer reviews. You couldn't imagine using the word "task" as a verb. Yet here you are in a climate-controlled, OSHA-compliant cubicle, 25-to-life for not being rich. So it goes.

Fortunately, there are things you can do to ease the pain. Please find here an itemized list Effective Immediately...

  • Wherever you go, walk fast and carry a document. No one ever questions the speed walker. You could be delivering Valentine's cards and still get a raise...

    "That Barbara sure is diligent. How much are we paying her?"

  • Log your sick-day excuses to avoid this sort of muddle...

    YOU: "I won't be in this week because my brother, sadly, has passed away."

    GORGON SECRETARY: "Your brother died last year. June seventh."

    Awkward silence.

    YOU: "Oh. Then I've just got the flu."

  • Establish early on that you married into a Jewish family and will be observing extra holidays, which you would specify if you could only pronounce them. Be ready with self-deprecating Jewish humor. "Yeah, life is like a box of chocolates -- my side nuts, their side Jews. Ha ha ha ha."
  • Spend at least one vacation day at your desk to let others know that you can't help them. Bring a novel and a coconut drink; this is your day. If anyone gets testy, snap a photo for your scrapbook.
  • You know from the Keyboard Shortcut Meeting that Alt + Tab switches program screens. Exercise your Alt-Tab fingers regularly so that you're quick on the draw should someone walk in and find you playing solitaire. Alt-tab, alt-tab, alt-tab. Practice makes the master.
  • When you are ready to quit -- and it shouldn't be long -- give three weeks notice. This allows extra time for surfing the Internet and talking about life on The Outside.

Studies have shown that personality loss comes from long-term exposure to fluorescent lighting. Well, that and holding your gas. Your only defense is to get a little zany...

Top Ten Ways to Salvage Your Personality from Fluorescent Lighting

10. Wear a sign that reads, "Out of Service. IT called."
9. On Casual Friday, bring your teddy bear.
8. Imagine the others in a naked barroom brawl.
7. Create a nameplate that reads, "Very Important Peon."
6. Whenever someone hands you work, ask if they want fries with that.
5. Slip and fall. File a lawsuit. Watch Oprah Winfrey.
4. Every time your neighbor clears his throat, clear yours twice.
3. When management asks you to assume a new role, tell them that you never assume.
2. Arrange a Ditch Day for seniors.
1. During reviews, say that you have taken up meditation and that your career goal is now to swallow the universe. Remind them that you will still be observing Jewish holidays.

Meanwhile, back in the boredroom, managers are "connecting" over pastries and Great Questions.

"That's a great question. Let's schedule a meeting to discuss our meeting schedule."

Management can spend weeks deciding a temperature for the thermostat. We call them chairpersons for good reason: They're always sitting around. Imagine how much work they could get done if they weren't always talking about how much work they could get done.

Today management is discussing the Corporate Catheter, which will reduce time lost to potty breaks. Coupled with the Corporate I.V., there should be no reason for anyone to stand up other than to attend a meeting.

Maybe there's a book in this whole thing: "Just Because We've Got A/C Doesn't Mean It Ain't Hell" ... "Working Hard or Hardly Working?: Why We Want to Vaporize Our Coworkers."

All I'm saying is that the next time someone uses "task" as a verb, that should be grounds for a workers comp lawsuit.


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