Let’s face it: working sucks. Each day you are required to wake up at some ungodly hour, actually make yourself presentable, and then spend 8 wearying hours dealing with people you probably aren’t that fond of. Worst of all, they expect you to do all this while wearing pants. You might even have to do it while completely stone sober. Never fear, because we all know that Steve will be ready with a humorous observation, or Lindsay will be bringing chocolate chip cookies ’cause she’s cool like that. No matter how intolerable or overwhelming work may feel, people tend to help one another out — like two soldiers stuck in a foxhole weathering the bombardment of Monday morning meetings. This is a tribute to those golden gods who brighten our flourescent-hued work days.
The Cookie Monster
This fountain of literally sweet release always seems to split their time between their job and baking. At least once every few weeks, they will bring in a plate of cookies, cake, biscotti, challah, or some other treat to share with the office. They may make some excuse like “oh they would have gone bad anyway” or “this way I don’t eat them all and get fat, haha”, but at the heart of it they just want to brighten everyone’s day.
While some may consider the person who brings more fat and sugar to share with people who sit down all day kind of cruel, it’s not the sweetness or the physical satisfaction that matters here. It’s the fact that, during their free time–a period which most of us do whatever possible to not think of work–they were thinking “Oh man Mark loves chocolate, he’s gonna flip!” Sometimes the smallest reminder that someone can be bothered to both think and care about you is all it takes to brighten up a job usually filled with spreadsheets, emails, and an overabundance of beige.
The Bulletin Board
But wait! You say you work down the hall and never hear about the delicious cookies in the conference room? Never fear, lowly office citizen, because the Bulletin Board has you covered. This is the person in every office that makes sure everyone’s up to date on the latest goings-on. It could be the office softball league, the aforementioned cookies, or even just that Dave’s having a really rough day we should take him out for a drink later. Not to be confused with the Gossip, the Bulletin Board won’t perch on the wall of your cubicle, inquiring at regular intervals: “Whatchya doin?” and spouting rambling stories that have no relevance to you. Like a normal person, and not like someone starved for attention and social significance, the Board will simply fill you in on anything relevant to you specifically during normal social interactions.
Now presumably, you would be able to figure these things out yourself. But some of us put quite a lot of work into avoiding people because of the interminable small talk and 4 hour long meetings we might be corralled into. To us, the Bulletin Board is a huge time and headache saver, even if sometimes we have to listen to talks about how human and intelligent their cats are.
So the other day I was volunteering at a soup kitchen and a homeless man told me an inspiring story about how subsidized housing and food stamps allowed him to get his life back on track. It really affirmed to me that we are all in this together and…okay by this point the greedy capitalist bosses won’t be reading anymore so let’s be honest: we all spend a lot of time at work not doing work. Maybe it’s Facebook, maybe it’s texting. Maybe it’s staring at a wall wondering if you’re wasting your life and idly contemplating grad school. Sometimes this procrastination gets us into trouble when we fall behind.
That’s where the Worker comes in. The Worker is that one guy or gal who is always on top of things, rarely lets you down, and always tries to keep things on-task, on-time and under budget. They may not even be the leader of your particular business unit — they may even be a very junior worker. But their dogged persistence and devotion is that little bit of inspiration that gets you back on task. Not to mention they will pitch in to bring you back up to speed even if you don’t deserve it, you lazy parasite.
Modern civilization runs on two smelly, unctuous black fluids: oil and coffee. Since science hasn’t found a way to directly inject oil into our veins for a boost of energy (yet), we’re stuck with guzzling down coffee to cure our lethargy/hangover. Almost every office on the planet has some sort of industrial-grade coffee machine that spits out what tastes like industrial-grade coffee. But its consumption is vital to the smooth operation of an office.
Enter Mr. Coffee. While most of us will finish the pot and sneak out of the break room, Mr. Coffee will make a new one. If it’s one of those fancy machines that only uses packets, Mr. Coffee will make sure the kitchen is well-stocked with extras–even the weird flavor that only you seem to like. On rare occasions, where Mr. Coffee is particularly full of awesome, he will make donations such as actually good coffee, or some milk and sugar.
It’s a proven fact that if you ask people in an office whether they are too hot or too cold you will get three different answers. No one is ever satisfied with the temperature, and it ranks second only to “didja catch the game last night” in most frequently discussed topics in an office. Furthermore, no one can ever seem to set the temperature correctly, as the thermostat often takes on a life of its own, defies the laws of thermodynamics, and freezes/cooks everything around it.
The Thermostat is that one person who has figured out the perfect combinations of settings and eldritch incantations that satisfy the largest number of people in the office. Often it involves some ridiculously complex combination of setting it too high, then slightly below where you want it and then doing a dance while sacrificing a chicken. But the Thermostat can get it every time, that is assuming that your thermostat isn’t a placebo put there by building management to give the illusion of control.
The IT Guy
Most decently-sized offices have some form of tech support on-call. But often they take hours to arrive, sigh heavily, and will often act frustrated at your lack of tech knowledge. If you work for a smaller company, you likely don’t have any sort of tech support and will be forced to wade into the hellscape that is customer service hotlines.
The IT Guy (who could easily be a gal), is that one person who isn’t actually an IT person, but has picked up enough knowledge to help out in a pinch. They can easily hop over to your cubicle to turn it off and then back on again, download the latest drivers, or shrug and say “replace it” which is what the real IT person would have said anyway. They save you time and frustration, and rarely do they complain about having to do someone else’s job on top of their regular job. The best part is, if you’re nice enough you can often get them to do housecalls in exchange for beer and video games.
In a corporate world tangled in political correctness, red tape, and your boss’s off-color sense of humor that makes everyone uncomfortable but no one wants to say anything, sometimes it seems like all humor has been deliberately stripped from the office. The lightest quip can get you in trouble, or more likely, it will just make things awkward with people that you’re forced to spend the majority of your life with.
The Joker is humanity’s antidote to this. For some reason they have developed a keen sense of humor that never offends, and always makes everyone feel better. Not only does a joke lighten anyone’s day, but sometimes when things get too heated or intense the only way to harmlessly defuse a situation is through humor. The Joker’s not just a comedian who makes people laugh, he’s a shrewd negotiator whose goal is to keep people from getting hurt, fired, or humiliated.
Working in an office environment can be rough on your body, mind, and general will to live in this bleak and uncaring world. Sometimes you don’t just need a little pick-me-up, you need a full-blown therapy session. And since your healthcare plan probably doesn’t cover it, you need a cheap alternative to actual therapy.
The Counselor is that member of your office, usually a bit more seasoned and wise, who is always there to entertain complaints and talk you down from your latest white-hot rage at being belittled by the boss. They’re more than just a friend who will listen, they have seen the horrors that you have seen and lived to talk about it in non-gibberish words. They can offer concrete advice, know how to soften blows, and help you prevent mistakes in the future. The Counselor is like Freud crossed with Yoda, only with fewer superpowers and oddly specific ramblings about penises.
The Knows A Guy
As you’ve probably heard a million times, in business it’s not what you know, but who you know. And the Knows A Guy knows everyone. This is the person in the office who probably spent more of his college years partying and kissing girls on the mouth (that’s what people do, right?) than he did studying. He makes friends wherever he goes and has the amazing superpower of starting conversations with complete strangers.
The Knows A Guy is the person you talk to when trying to land a new client–he probably knows someone at the firm already. Need a new vendor to complete a delicate and complex request? Knows A Guy knows one that’s delivered quality for decades. Need some tips on talking with the new office hottie? Knows A Guy has already slept with him or her, but will give you tips anyway because it was just a casual thing and Knows A Guy is cool like that.
You need to do some incredibly complex task that you’ve never encountered before for your latest project. Which is fine, because you’ve got someone who specializes in that. The problem, however, is that not only will that person then take all the credit, but the less you handle on your own the more paranoid you feel about your job security. Hopefully, you’ve got a Teacher hanging around the office.
The Teacher is usually pretty good at a lot of different specialized tasks. Hell, they might even also be the office’s IT Guy. The difference is the teacher won’t just take the task, complete it, and never talk to you again. They will take the time and exercise the patience to make sure you learn whatever it is. Other colleagues might jealously guard whatever usefulness they have to protect their jobs, but in reality they’re just making the team as a whole weaker and creating an exasperating, sigh-filled barrier to speedy progress.