Office Space vs my life

In commemoration of my anniversary at my “new” job, I sat at home by myself and drank half a bottle of our white wine and watched Office Space. I took notes to compare that classic movie on the modern cubicle-dweller’s condition and my own experience after a year working for The Man.

Similarities:

  • There’s lots of existential wingeing about what we would all be doing if we weren’t working there, but not many escape plans. 
We don’t  have a lot of time on this earth. we weren’t meant to spend it this way. Human beings were not meant to sit in little cubicles staring at computer screens all day. –Ron Livingston as Peter Gibbons in Office Space

  • I don’t actually like it when people use my first name, just like Michael Bolton didn’t really want everyone to use his full name, but I’ve since given up on “correcting” them. Also, it can be hard to pronounce, like Samir Nagheenanajar’s name. But to be fair, it’s my fault. When they started calling me by my first name during the interview, I was so excited about the possibility of working there that there was no way I was going to correct them. And then it just stuck. Apparently, if I wanted to fix it, it would involve HR and paperwork…and I don’t care that much.
  • Sometimes people’s desks get moved or they get switched to different teams without much input. 
  • People in my office get animated when there’s cake. They get very excited. They throw down. It looks kind of like a hockey match. But there’s generally enough to go around. Also, we have free bagels every Friday morning, and that’s really cool. 

Differences that aren’t necessarily better:

  • We don’t have cubicles, at least not in my department. So we aren’t isolated from each other and occasionally a few of us will even have a casual chat across the tables. But at the same time, it can be really distracting to be able to see everything that’s going on around you and to always feel like you’re open to distractions, requests, etc. And it’s 2012, so we don’t have to worry about talking across the office to distract each other: sitting on Skype or Gchat all day provides plenty of opportunities to share imgur and YouTube links. 
Differences that are worse: 
  • None of the men in my office listen to rap. They don’t even ironically like it. They dislike it for the same reasons my parents dislike it: “This isn’t music! You can’t even understand what they’re saying!” I sent around a parody of Gangsta’s Paradise and nobody got it. Except the women.
  • People get promoted in Office Space. I am under the impression that someone would have to die before I had an opportunity for anything that looked like vertical movement on my team. 

Huge bonuses:

  • For me and for many of my co-workers, there is no horrid hour-long commute through traffic to get to work. A lot of people can walk to work and we’re in such a small, charming town that the walk to work isn’t half bad. I live three miles away and I’ve walked to work before, but I had to travel down one of the busiest roads in the city and it’s not actually that nice. I drive to work pretty much every day, but even on a bad day, it only takes 15 minutes to get there and the stoplights and school buses are the biggest causes for delays.
  • Our printer always works. It’s also a fax machine and the office scanner, so that’s pretty impressive. However, lot of my co-workers have trouble with older Dells–apparently, there is a problem where actual smoke will start to come out of the machine–so I imagine we could still find something to bring out to a field and beat with a baseball bat. Generally, if something isn’t working, we just take a walk to the ice cream shop and wait it out. 
  • There are very few women in the whole movie, with the exception of a few wives and girlfriends. Maybe because they work for a software company, but we have at least a couple of women in our software department, and lots of women throughout the company. 
  • I don’t have to come in on the weekends and I don’t usually have to work late. And I’ve never had my boss actually ask me to work late or come in on a Saturday. I have a lot of autonomy when it comes to how my work gets done. 
  • We have some latitude when it comes to deciding where we’ve sit. I’ve decided to move no less than three times in the past year, but I haven’t moved yet because it seems like it would take up a lot of time.
  • I get to decorate my office. In fact, one of the dudes from facilities kindly put some nails on my wall and I’ve strung up some postcards from Taiwan with twine and clothespins. 

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