The other day I walked into the kitchen to two women talking very quietly about some new person that had just started working here about a week ago. When they saw me they hushed and pretended like I wasn’t there. I filled up my water bottle, and as soon as I turned the corner I heard them gossiping again.
The office is one giant adult high school.
Let’s just walk through this like an imaginary freshman. Your first day is scary. You know no one, all the seniors (senior management) are intimidating and scary, you immediately try to find other newbies to make friends with, and you pray your teacher (boss) is cool. As the weeks go on, you start to catch on to how everything works. Maybe a sophomore (random colleague or work mom) takes you under their wing and shows you the ropes. Pretty soon you’ll be getting the hang of it.
That’s when you realize the big picture.
You ever notice that one person you work with who is always trying to chime in on an email thread or speak up after a meeting? Maybe you see them constantly in your supervisor’s office or trying to send emails at random hours of the night. Remember that annoying-ass kid in 5th grade that told the teacher everyone who talked while she was using the restroom? Or that piece of shit who would bring up the homework that needed to be turned in that the teacher had already forgotten about? They are in your office. They walk your halls. The teacher’s pet is alive and well in the corporate world and they are literally the worst.
There’s all kinds of cliques. The IT guys are the awkward nerds. The developers and programmers are the cocky nerds. The business development guys are the jocks and the talkative class clowns that everyone liked. The accounting department is the quieter smart kids. HR is the cheerleaders (the recruiters) and people in student government. Marketing is the girls that were always fundraising for something. Middle management is the kids that got good grades but just kind of hung out. Senior management is the kids who are only focused on climbing higher on that success ladder. Interns are freshmen. Proposal people are the music and theater kids. I could go on and on and on.
You go on business trips that are basically field trips. The highlight of the week is cake for someone’s birthday or maybe an office party. Everyone wants to climb the social ladder. It’s a dog-eat-dog world and you’re just trying to survive.
Read this like I’m talking about school:
When you wake up, you don’t want to go to but you have to. You try to get there on time and rush to your desk. You sit there all morning half-awake just counting down the minutes to lunch. Lunch is the best part of your day. You eat lunch with the few people you actually can get along with. After lunch you count down the minutes until you get to go home. The time seems to drag on forever. You get up to go to the bathroom, but you don’t even have to go. You just aimlessly wander the hallways until you finally return to your desk. A couple people will try to distract you during the day, but you don’t want your superior to see you goofing off. When the day finally ends, your friends try to get you to come do extracurricular activities. You go home exhausted and work on your homework. You go to bed way too late, just to wake up tomorrow and do the same thing.
Now go back and read it like I’m talking about work.
Nothing changed. Nothing has ever changed. Nothing will ever change. .
Image via Shutterstock