As if finishing undergrad wasn’t enough of a reminder that all the good things in life will eventually leave you, The Office series finale aired last week. After nine glorious seasons, viewers were given closure on some of the series’ unanswered questions and a glimpse of what the future held for our favorite Dunder Mifflin Workers. Shortly after crying hysterically while watching the DVR’d finale, I reminded myself it was just a TV show. The Office aired for the first time in 2005, so, naturally, it was my go-to source of insight on the way corporate America worked. I knew nothing about having a desk job in 2009, but I did know how things worked at Dunder Mifflin. I know more about having a 9-5’er now, and it’s safe to say The Office set me up for disappointment.
1. As long as you’re a functioning alcoholic, being an alcoholic is okay.
Meredith, the divorced disaster of Dunder Mifflin, was able to keep her job even though she kept booze in her desk, flashed her boss at an office party, and made an innumerable amount of sexual and offensive comments directed at her coworkers. How was I to know that all of these are actually fireable offenses in the real world? By learning the hard way, that’s how.
2. About 5% of your day is spent doing actual work.
I know Jim made his share of sales calls and Pam (and later Erin) answered phones on occasion, but the majority of what Michael Scott’s protégé’s did involved minimal work and maximum hijinks. I came into my first job expecting an amazing camaraderie among my new coworkers. Instead, I spent my day on Facebook, and then later switched to Gchat because it’s obviously more professional, and worked really hard to make it look as if I were being productive. My boss was not amused with my output, a stark contrast to Michael and Andy’s inabilities to care about company performance.
3. Your boss wants to be your best friend.
Newsflash: your boss fucking hates you, and you fucking hate him. It’s not even an enjoyable mutual hatred. It’s a tense, unspoken disdain, much like the one between you and your creepy uncle who always managed to hug you for a minute too long at Thanksgiving. You can’t do anything about it unless you want to risk losing your job/birthday presents from that side of the family, so you silently sit and plot his untimely demise.
4. Christmas parties are fun.
Yankee Swap? A margarita induced karaoke disaster attended by Benihana waitresses? Yeah, none of that’s going to happen at your actual job. Most office parties are painful, because you spend the entire night wanting to black out just to be able to deal with your co-workers and boss, but not doing so because you realize getting special Olympics level drunk will probably result in your termination. Office holiday parties are what I imagine jail would be like: you’re stuck there, sober, for a minimum of three hours with people you tolerate, at best, intimately aware that a better world exists outside the confines of your small room. You can’t leave, but you want to. The fucking worst.
5. Dating your superior is okay.
Jan took advantage of Michael sexually, and then Michael was banging Holly, Andy was sticking it in Erin, and Dwight married Angela. The series had four instances where a boss was penetrating his subordinate, and nobody even thought twice about it. Back in the real world, if a boss makes advances on you, it’s creepy, and if you “accidentally” email him pictures of your boobs, it’s an issue that gets taken up with HR and definitely winds up in your file.
6. Meetings are fun.
Prison Mike? Diversity day? Grief counseling for the dead bird? Michael Scott knew how to throw a party in the conference room. Instead of coming in contact with a hilarious (albeit racist) boss during meetings, you’re coming in contact with an agitated prick who’s getting enough grief from his boss that he needs to yell at you and your co-workers to make himself feel better. AND there are rarely refreshments.
7. Charity events and community Involvement are actually enjoyable.
In reality, your boss will not be the organizer of something similar to Michael Scott’s Dunder Mifflin Scranton Meredith Palmer Memorial Celebrity Rabies Awareness Pro-Am Fun Run Race for the Cure. If anything, you’ll be forced to represent a team of people at some type of community activity because you’re among the newest employees, and you will loathe every minute of it. It won’t be a laughing matter, because nobody you work with has a fucking sense of humor when it comes to terminal illnesses or national tragedy. People will think it’s in poor taste for you to suggest playing “Make it Rain on them Hoes” on repeat at your Hurricane Katrina relief fundraiser.
8. If you’re sick of parenting, one of your co-workers will carry your burden for you.
Angela and Dwight basically pawned their strange love child off on Oscar, and Nelly stole Ryan’s baby at Angela and Dwight’s wedding because he was more interested in boning Kelly. Nobody gives a fuck about people’s children. “Bring your kids to work day” is the day everyone in corporate America dreads (aside from daycare providers, one would assume). Sure, working mothers are a great thing, until they try to force feed pictures of their 8-year-old with a lazy eye at her dance recital down your throat in the break room. I’m just trying to get a coffee, you dumb bitch, I don’t care about your daughter. Isn’t there a sale at Lane Bryant you’re missing? The same goes for people’s pets. You’re not a parent because you adopted a mutt from the shelter, and stop trying to get people who sit near your desk to look after your dog while you go away for 48-hours.
9. Sexual harassment is tolerated.
From Michael Scott making “that’s what she said” jokes, to Phyllis publicly masturbating while reading 50 Shades of Grey, Dunder Mifflin’s Scranton branch was a cesspool of inappropriate behavior. Regular jobs do not tolerate anything remotely sexual in nature, and any questionable remarks or actions do get addressed by HR. You can’t talk about the receptionist’s new pair of fake tits, and you can’t speculate as to whether or not the quiet guy in marketing is into weird shit in bed. Corporate America is a fucking jail.
10. You will actually like your co-workers.
Even though they played pranks on one another, every character on The Office got along. They were all invited to Jim and Pam’s wedding, for starters. Ryan and Kelly had a torrid love affair, and Dwight and Jim became friends. NONE of this will happen in reality. At best, you’ll tolerate four of your co-workers enough that you can stand to be in the break room with them at the same time. The Dunder Mifflin employees went to happy hour together after work, but in reality, you’ll be going to happy hour alone just to drink away the pain of having to deal with the highly functioning mentally handicapped individuals you coexist with at work. You will not fall in love at work, because your only viable options for dateable coworkers will either be ugly as sin, completely socially inept, or strangely in a relationship with somebody equally as boring as they are. The only people you would consider dating will be gay. That’s the way the world works.
So, fuck you for ending, The Office, but an even bigger fuck you for giving me the most unrealistic expectations about my work environment.