That’s Why It’s Called Work

So, I got a day job, and I have a bad attitude about it. The ultra-abbreviated version is that between when I interviewed and when I started, Giant Camel got fired over some bullshit. (He worked at the same place.) Aside from my natural partisanship, the whole situation was objectively bullshit, so by the time I started at – let’s call it CompuCom – I was already tired of it. I was genuinely going to try to be thankful and have a good attitude, because I’d needed a job for a while and because so many other people need work, but – fuck it.
I hit my first personal hurdle before I even technically started. There were four of us in the orientation group, and wouldn’t you know it? We got The Office Conversation Guy. You know that guy who insists on having a conversation during lag time instead of letting everyone sit quietly with their own thoughts? He’s sitting there just going on about operating systems, and how no one makes palm pilots anymore, and he has two monitors on his home computer, and “the cloud,” and data encryption… I can’t add to any of this, but since I’m in the room, I’m In The Conversation, and for some reason it’s rude to say “I’d rather dread orientation in silence, please.” Then the office manager comes in and – lo and behold! – Office Conversation Guy reveals his other personality, Office Humor Guy. You know that person you work with who constantly makes “jokes” using one of the four work punchlines: “Is it Friday yet?” “That’s above my pay grade!” “Coffee break!” or, sarcastically, “I love work!”? Him. So not only are we filling out paperwork about how CompuCom owes us nothing, but if we invent something, they own it, and don’t nickname your coworkers things like “Tits” or “Towelhead Dennis,” we have to have it narrated by this guy whose sense of humor is the result of Cathy getting knocked up by Dilbert and then drinking during the pregnancy.
Of course, my name was wrong on the paperwork: “Oh, we have you down as Chris Turner, is that fine?”
No, it’s not fine. My full name is right there on all the paperwork I filled out. Do you just quit typing in the middle of other words because you feel like it, as in “Fou sco a seve year ag, ou forefat…” Can I call you “Mary Smith” because it’s simpler? People never realize that – just maybe – my full, hyphenated name is, I don’t know, on my Social Security card, birth certificate, and bank account and maybe it would be nice to, I don’t know, have my actual name on my paycheck? After trying to make this point politely, I was treated to a short holier-than-thou lecture about how someone else in the office has an apostrophe in her name and she just omits it because it makes everything easier. Had I not needed the job, I would have shouted “I’ll omit you!”
Do you think that being given three PowerPoint lectures to read on your own counts as training? Me neither.
About this time, I started thinking, “Wow, I need a new spirit animal for this job. Someone who scowls. Someone who doesn’t take bullshit.”
Ladies and gentlemen, my spirit animal for the duration of this temp job… Dawn Davenport, central character of John Waters’ film Female Trouble.
Dawn Davenport knocks down the Christmas tree when she doesn’t get what she wants. Dawn Davenport eats meatball sandwiches in class. Dawn Davenport screams obscenities because it makes her feel strong. Dawn Davenport will cut you.
 Something about the stance – the fat-and-angry posture of her – really speaks to how I feel about things right now, probably because I’m fat and angry.
So now, whenever I’m annoyed at work, I ask myself, “What would Dawn Davenport do?” So far, what I’ve decided Dawn Davenport would do has included:
-       Taking extra pastries every time they appear in the break room
-       Going ahead and gnawing on the bone of the pork chop I brought for lunch, because who the fuck am I trying to impress, whereas an animal died so I could eat that meat
-       Smoking clove cigarettes right by the door
-       Not washing my hands after I pee, so everyone I touch is, in some small way, touching my penis
-       Refusing to make small talk with a coworker who wanted to talk about his pirated DVDs (let me tell you, you feel differently about intellectual property once you have some)
-       Refusing to pretend to be sympathetic when the above coworker was laid off
-       Refusing to give a flying fuck about long-term corporate goals
-       And I ALMOST talked myself into licking the office doorknob of someone I don’t like when I had a cold, but I was afraid I’d be seen
So, of course, my plan has succeeded too well, since now I really like work because I spend all day imagining that Divine is sitting next to me, keeping up an extremely foul-mouthed commentary about my workday.
Which brings me to my appeal. If any of you readers still know how to make this little woven string “WWJD” bracelets, I will pay you a modest sum to make one that says “WWDDD?”* I’ll wear it next time I don’t give a fuck.

*I’m totally serious. I really want one.


Anonymous said...

So you don't risk that guy not washing his hands all up on your tongue/getting caught...next time spit/lick your hand then wipe it on the doorknob. Done and done.

Anonymous said...

hahaha i love you chris!

Anonymous said...

Hahahahhaa AWESOME post! I'd also like a WWDDD bracelet!

Anonymous said...

I am incredibly glad that someone else can relate to the plight that is having a hyphenated last name. the problem with mine is that both are slightly 'ethnic', so whenever a new person see it they basically have a panic attack and just give up. it's discouraging.

me said...

That whole bit about Dilbert impregnating Cathy and drinking during the pregnancy was genius. It takes some serious comedy skills to come up with shit like that. Great post, Chris.

Megan said...

i'm so glad you are back. thanks for this!

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everyone in my building has this expression they love: "herding cats". as in, "getting everyone to this meeting will be like herding cats!" invariably any time the expression is used it's in reference to a meeting. you might think it's cute--funny, even--the first time you hear it, but you're wrong. and it's one of those office-humor phrases where someone is literally incapable of not bursting into excited laughter immediately after they find a chance to reference the act of cat-herding. it didn't take long before i began involuntarily making the most judgmental face possible any time someone uttered that phrase.

i miss unemployment.

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I came across your book, The Misanthrope's Guide To Life the other day and wanted to say I greatly appreciate the work. (While it may ring all too true with my life)
Just wanted to bring to light on the section of absorb things people do in public transit, I just spent 3 months in the amazon, and for being a region that never had a formal etiquette class, their manners would make most Americans people feel like barbarians.
(And if you are every looking for a break from society, try traveling to a foreign country with a language barrier)

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