Workplace Revenge

USA Today is reporting that nearly half of 1,000 Americans sampled in a survey — 44 percent, to be precise — have admitted to seeking “workplace revenge” against a fellow employee.

57ced8b263393bfcc559fc398afcf4a7-office-space-meme-office-humorThe definition of “workplace revenge” used by the survey is pretty broad, and the results suggest that people who participate in such antics aren’t exactly deep thinkers, either.  For example, the most popular form of “workplace revenge” found by the survey is workers “causing a purposeful decline in the quality or quantity” of their own work — apparently in an effort to get back at a supervisor.   Even if you were a vengeful type, this seems like a poorly considered strategy if you want to actually keep your job.  Another popular form of workplace revenge is “quitting in an unconventional way” — and all of the survey respondents who followed this course probably did so convinced that their loud, “unconventional,” no doubt public departure from their job would teach their mean bosses a lesson that they would remember forever.  Of course, anyone who’s got much workplace experience would realize that temper tantrums by departing employees are pretty common and that many co-workers who witness the “unconventional” resignation will be inwardly thrilled that the vengeful co-worker is hitting the road.

Hey, do employees who want to inflict “workplace revenge” grasp the concept of a self-inflicted wound?

According to the survey, other popular forms of revenge are “spreading unflattering rumors” and “hiding a co-worker’s possessions” (starting, perhaps, with staplers?), as well as eating a co-worker’s lunch, sabotaging a co-worker’s work, and getting a co-worker fired.  And, interestingly, the likelihood that an employee will try to take “workplace revenge” increases with rank, with “senior managers” and “general managers” more likely to engage in these tactics than entry-level employees.

The survey really makes you wonder how many toxic workplaces exist, and makes me grateful that I’ve never been the target — at least, not to my knowledge — of a “workplace revenge” scenario.  Is it really that bad out there?  And if supervisors are regularly taking part in the vengeance, then we’re definitely into truly dysfunctional territory.

Jobs are hard enough without worrying that your fellow employees might be trying to stab you in the back or get you fired because of some perceived slight.  No wonder so many Americans want to retire early!

What Happens When A White-Collar Worker Has Too Much Time On His Hands

I’m guessing that the guy who came up with this video was inspired to experiment with binder clips when he was at the office, sitting in his cubicle, bored out of his mind.  It’s the kind of thing you’d expect the slacker guys in Office Space to do to help pass the time.

Still, it is kind of cool — who’d have thought simple binder clips could multi-task?

Our Riotous Boss’s Day Celebration

Yesterday morning the ever-upbeat Chipper Secretary came into my office with a big smile on her face, handed me a card, and said:  “Happy Boss’s Day!”

Eh?  Boss’s Day?

Of course!  How could I have forgotten?  That explained the din from outside the window, where the famous Columbus Boss’s Day parade was passing by.  As the CS and I looked outside to see the throngs of ecstatic celebrants crowding the streets, a band was playing one of the many selections from the great American songbook recognizing the crucial role played by bosses in our society.  One of the many floats — all of which are hand made by office workers and must be decorated exclusively with shredded, recycled copier paper — depicted an appreciative employee receiving a “coaching session” from a friendly mentor that turned around his lagging career.  It was followed by the popular Shriner mini-cars, which stopped and disgorged gangs of would-be “bosses” juggling paperweights and other desk ornaments as happy children shrieked with laughter, then a man dressed like a stapler who handed out free samples to the grateful parade-watchers.

Of course, the celebration didn’t stop outside the window.  In our office excited people gathered in conference rooms to eat traditional Boss’s Cake, each hoping to get the piece with the tiny gold bowler hat that presages a year of “exceeds expectation” performance reviews.  Later the ritual Boss’s Day games began, and one of the secretaries set a new firm speed record for successfully placing a five-party conference call while simultaneously booting up a PowerPoint presentation.  By the end of the day, exhausted but happy workers were ready to go back to their homes, ready for their families to share in the fellowship that always wells in the breast of every employee when Boss’s Day ends.

I really appreciated the card.

The Underrated We’re The Millers

I first saw We’re The Millers when I was on a long flight and it was one of the movie options.  I’d heard of the film, but that was about it.

I watched the movie rather than read my book, and to my delight it was hysterical.  In fact, I’d say it was one of the funniest movies I’ve seen in years.  It’s a comedy, so it’s silly and implausible, but it really delivered some big laughs as I endured the long flight.  The movie, which stars Jason Sudeikis, Jennifer Aniston, Emma Roberts, and Will Poulter tells the improbable tale of a desperate small-time drug dealer who recruits an ersatz family to pose as a boring all-American family on an RV trip to help him get a huge delivery of marijuana over the U.S.-Mexican border.

When you watch a movie on an airplane, a little punch-drunk from traveling, you always wonder whether it’s as good as your on-board reaction indicates.  So, when We’re The Millers showed up on HBO, it was with trepidation that I decided to watch it again — and I was glad to see that it was as clever and humorous as I thought.

I’m betting that We’re The Millers is one of those movies that becomes an under-the-radar icon — much like Office Space, which also featured Jennifer Aniston.  It’s chock full of memorable scenes and painfully accurate takes on modern life, the kind of movie that you quote to your friends to make a point.  The haircut scene, in which the Jason Sudeikis character describes the kind of haircut he wants, is itself worth the price of a DVD rental.  Watch it on YouTube if you don’t believe me.

The Emptiness Of Cubicle Life, Confirmed

There was an awful story in the news yesterday:  a county employee in Los Angeles died at her desk, in her cubicle, and was not found until the next day by a security guard.  The police think she may have been dead for as long as a full day before her body was found.

The story sounds like the over-the-top plot of an Office Space knock off, but unfortunately it is true.  Think for a moment about what that story means.  For hours, apparently, no one passed by the worker’s cubicle and noticed her condition.  No one stopped by to visit or interact or checked to see why she wasn’t showing up for a meeting or returning phone calls.  When everyone left for the night and turned out the light, no one saw that she still was there, slumped over her desk.  For anyone who works in a large office environment, it is the ultimate nightmare.

What does it say about the solitary and empty nature of cubicle work in a modern office if a worker can die at their desk without someone — anyone! — noticing for a full day?  In view of this kind of story, can anyone really wonder why so many people find their cubicle existence a cold, separate, unsatisfying, soul-deadening experience?