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Watching

Video Digest: August 3, 2007

The modern American workplace in five acts: Cube farm as survival ground; Olympians at work; Copying one's mistakes; Prescient Office Space; Revenge against one's lessers.

&tI work in an office building. My “office” is a cube in the center of the room, affording me little privacy and no view. Some of my coworkers are truly strange people. We all get frustrated by incomprehensible corporate policies that seem only designed to punish us. Just like everyone else, we’re just like The Office.
This is why I don’t watch that show. I tried watching the British version, I tried out the U.S. one, and it turns out I do not have sense of humor enough to see so much of my actual work life taken nearly verbatim and repackaged as satire. Some of you need that relief. I just get depressed. Give me walls or give me death got traded for a flat-screen monitor, uncensored internet access, and no dress code. Maybe I can fashion a door from a blanket and some tacks.




The office manager, Nellie, and I wonder sometimes if anyone would notice if we left; Nellie, I told her, the last time we were both out, no one could figure out how to turn on the lights, so they spent the whole day in the dark. They’d notice. Still, it’s easy to feel invisible. See what these office Olympians do to combat their anonymity.




When my friends and I would go visit a certain mother’s office after school, we’d always sneak into the copy room and make copies of every single body part we could get on the machine. Sometimes you’d get on one of those copiers that moved while copying your ass; to ignorant nine-year-olds, the office is like an amusement park with free souvenirs. Why the compulsion to make copies of your behind? One of office-mankind’s greatest mysteries.




Present-day me would never sit on a photocopier again, seeing how fragile they can be. Ours throws weekly fits, refusing to send one day and receive another, and one week it was a constant paper jam. This means we get to see lots of our new best friends: the copy machine repairmen, Tweedle-Dee and Tweedle-Dum. Once, they suggested “fixing” the machine by putting a carefully unbent paperclip inside it, leading us to believe that qualifications for repair positions at this company don’t get much higher than “sentient.” What we’d really like to do, Nellie and I, is reenact this scene.




Because our office is small, it’s easy to hear everyone else’s conversations, even the quiet ones. That’s why the really juicy gossip is emailed. Words, though, can only convey so much. When the loud guy is taking a conference call at his desk, and the woman with allergies won’t stop sniffling, and the crazy girl punctuates the muddle of sounds with one of her insane, long laughs, this situation can bring about a rage so uncontrollable that you are faced with only two choices: one, run to the bathroom and kick the stall doors and walls until you feel better, or two, take your revenge.




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