Next Thing You Know, We’ll Be Singing “The Internationale” On Our Coffee Breaks

Rollin’ with the homies.

For the last few years, I tried slogging through graduate school. And, well, for various reasons, I just can’t be educated. So now I’m back at regular-ass jobs again, and being out of the ivory tower can sometimes be fun, in that bizarre “I’m living inThe Office” kind of way. Not that graduate school wasn’t replete with idiot bosses, nauseating ass-kissers, freaks (though not usually the fundamentalist sort), jerks, failed attempts at romance, and the typical melange of dipshittery that we call “humanity” when we’re in polite company. However, working in an actual corporate setting somehow ratchets up the Dunder Mifflin a few notches. All the characters are there–the idiot boss who bullies his/her subordinates, but doesn’t see him/herself as the jerk he/she really is; Dwight (there’s always a Dwight); a Jim-like slacker who’s too tragically hip for the entire affair; assorted fruitcakes; young people with surprisingly reactionary views; and, of course, a jaded temporary worker who can see all of this and who prays he doesn’t get sucked into accepting this situation as normal (ahem).

So how does this relate to the above scene?


This place (and forgive my lack of specificity, but I have a powerful need to continue eating, so until something else comes along, this is what’s paying the grocery bill) hired quite a few temps a couple of weeks ago, of whom I was/am one. But the anticipated work volume has yet to fully materialize. So our own Michael Scott has decided to start sending some of the temps home early. I haven’t been one of them. Now, I need the money, so I don’t mind staying. But I don’t like that other people are getting jerked around when they were told that they’d have a forty-hour-a-week gig.

The other day, on one of those silly-ass “breaks” that the much-maligned labor movement helped secure, I was talking to another employee–not a temp, but someone who’s only worked there for a relatively short while; it is worth noting that this woman is at least ten years younger than I am. I was telling her about this bullshit of people getting sent home early (the permanent staff haven’t been leaving–they bring books to read, or find other creative ways to waste time and get paid for it), and she looked at me and said, in this world-weary way, that I just needed to look out for myself. To which I replied, without even thinking, “And that’s why the rich pricks keep running away with all the money for themselves.”

She looked at me like I’d just suggested we have a lovely dinner of puppy tenderloin in bearnaise sauce.

Ah, well. I’ll keep struggling, Comrades.

4 thoughts on “Next Thing You Know, We’ll Be Singing “The Internationale” On Our Coffee Breaks

  1. Sigh. That *is* the problem, isn’t it? All the really amazing accomplishments in world history–the really lasting changes–came about because of large groups of people acting together, not because of individuals acting selfishly. (That’s where all the bad shit comes from–Caligula, Napoleon, Hitler, George W. Bush…wait, is Godwin’s Law still suspended?) The good stuff–civil rights in America, beating Hitler, the New Deal, the labor movement, the American Revolution, the Industrial Revolution (a mixed bag, but I’ll still put it in the good stuff category)…I could go on, but won’t.
    So why do people continue to insist that they can get ahead faster by screwing the guy next to them?

  2. Spend five years in two grad programs in two universities and have worked at universities for years beyond that. The Office is everywhere and so is the sense of “I’m getting mine.” Have a “colleague” (quotes for sarcasm) who never wanted to teach in the summer until I mentioned I did. Then he made a fuss that he was there longer and he should get to teach. Fine, so the boss gave us options of what to teach and I asked to teach the course I’ve been teaching for years and he hasn’t taught in a long time because it’s easier to put online and he can get a digital bonus. He also managed to convince my boss that he should get the student newspaper advising gig that just opened up, even though I’d advised for more than five years at my old job and he never has. Honestly, and I’m not even close to kidding, when I got to this place, one of the good faculty folks took me aside and told me that they called him Dwight from The Office.

  3. I was on a field trip with my kid’s high school choir and on the ride back I told the lady next to me that I thought that the economy works this way: we exist to create wealth that 1% of the population steals. She gave me the puppy in bernaise sauce look too but ever since September of last year, I often catch myself wondering if she thinks about that conversation now.

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