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I work in Office Space

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If you have yet to see Office Space, I urge you to get off your kiester and rent it. It’s an insightful and not-entirely-exaggerated look into American corporate culture.

The company I work for functions so similarly to the one in Office Space that if I were to describe it, I fear I’d be discovered and put in meetings with ‘the two Bobs.’ You never know what Google could turn up. What I can say is that events in the past couple of weeks have kept the movie in the front of my brain- to the point that I’m reccommending it to coworkers.

If you have seen it, and work in Corporate America, how accurate did you find the movie?

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About Particleman

  • A software company I left last year was also identical to this movie. It is scary how close the two are – down to the 8 bosses and the TPS reports.

  • Yo, PM, you posted this entry from your home PC, right?

    The strangest corporate job experience I ever had was with a certain Northwestern newspaper. They insist everyone they hire sign one of those management guru’s ‘rules’ list. I would rather not.

  • Really? Do you have a guy that wants his stapler and threatens to burn the building down?

  • Robin- no kidding, i have three bosses.

    MD- yes, it was from home (i.e., not from work, if that’s what you were implying). When i got hired, i had to sign a non-disclosure form, but i think that’s standard issue for most jobs these days.

    VS- uh, i accidentally burned some popcorn in the microwave and set the smoke alarms off once, causing different parts of the building to be sealed off by steel walls that dropped from the ceiling, if that counts for anything.

  • I work at a place where we’re months behind schedule because there’s more work than we can possibly handle, but they make use go through endless drafts and rewrites of our personal “Quarterly Goals and Objectives”.

  • Taloran

    PMan, I’m dying to hear more about your experience. Drop me an email. I won’t tell.

    I spent two years with Lockheed Martin, during which time I saw Office Space for the first time. I kept saying to myself “this movie is like the very best parts of my job. Almost noone at Lockheed is as cool as the Bobs, the stapler guy or the bosses in this movie.”

    Fire drills so they could check your cube to ensure that you didn’t have any unapproved lamps plugged in (nothing unapproved could be plugged in anywhere in the building). A guy who complained that he was getting an error saving a file, and when the IT folks checked it out, they discovered he’d completely filled his HD with porn (he got fired). The project manager who did nothing (that anyone could figure out anyway) except surf Miata.com and Ebay (he has since been escorted from the building). The other project manager who replied “No thanks, I only like Phil Collins” when I offered to loan him some music. The email that mistakenly went out from upper-level management to everyone saying “All managers and above will now refer to all non-managers only by ID number, never by name. This is to dehumanize the low-level employees” (it was quickly retracted). The other email that went out saying “In lieu of holiday bonus, we’re installing self flushing toilets throughout the building. We’re sure you’re all thrilled. Managers do not lose their bonus” (that was after I left).

    And I’m just getting started…

  • T- those are awesome. keep an eye on your inbox…

    thanks for the post, that was some great stuff, especially the self-flushing toilets one.

  • What’s really funny is that Gary Cole (Lumberg, m’kay) is playing the VP on The West Wing, and I keep waiting for him to ask Toby for TPS reports or to come in on Saturday.

  • no way! how fitting.

    hey, is it just my computer, or are the apostrophes in the main post being displayed as A’s?

  • How accurate is it? Totally accurate. I used to work at Boeing and I swear they had to have based some of this off of me at Boeing. There was even a guy there who’d been there for 20 years who’d come in everyday and spend about two hours sitting at his desk reading the newspaper. I don’t think I ever actually saw him working, as a matter of fact. Some of my favorite “subtle” things in the movie are all the slogan banners all over the place. These big companies hang huge banners with slogans they think will make the workplace better somehow – like they’ll invigorate you to perform.

    One thing from my “real life Office Space” that the movie doesn’t reflect: cards for every occasion. I have yet to be at a workplace where a card isn’t sent around to everyone to sign for some usually insignificant event. By the time the damn thing gets to you, there’s no space left in which to sign it and everyone’s taken all the thoughts you’d had for your own note. I’ve taken to telling some strange story, relating odd facts, etc. – anything unusual (unless it’s for someone’s death, in which case it’s usually just “sorry about your loss.” What else can you say?)

  • The best “real-world” example of the power of “Office Space” is that Swingline produced a red stapler after the movie came out.

    Prior to “Office Space”, Swingline didn’t make a red stapler. Now you can buy the Milton model.

  • Office Space reminded me a lot about when I did technical support. I also like Dead Like Me’s portrayal of cubical life. Too accurate.

  • The Theory

    oh man, we do the card thing here at our (small) retail store. if we run out of room in the card, we add pages. I enjoy card signing, though. Gives me a chance to be weird.

  • I highly recommend anyone who enjoys “British” humor and this movie to check out BBC’s The Office. It’s showing on BBC America, if you happen to have it, and the first season is out on DVD in the US as of a couple weeks ago (it’s been out in Europe for a few months.) Very, very funny in that painfully realistic way. A friend of mine likened it to Christopher Guest directing Office Space.

  • There used to be this short cartoon that occasionally showed on Cartoon Network’s Oh Canada which was (I think) a line-for-line conversion of one of the conversations between Lumberg and Milton. The cartoon looked pretty old so I’m not sure if Office Space copied the cartoon or vice versa. If only I were curious enough to find out back then, when Cartoon Network still had Oh Canada.

  • Antfreeze

    Stapler man is now the voice of Hank Hill’s neighbor Bill.