Every day is a new day, filled with new opportunities, new connections, and new ways to enhance the high-flow spiral that you live daily from eight to five. Every interaction with a coworker has strings attached: you want his job, he wants your job, you both want the boss’s job, you want to murder each other, whatever. The key is navigating the feces-laden waters of office politics, social interactions, and subtle intangibles that get you through the work day and allow you to arrive safe, employed, and murder- or suicide-free the next day.
You can approach your day one of two ways: act like you’ve been there before, or act like Art Briles. Here are some helpful tips to bob and weave your way to 5 p.m. while acting like you’ve been there before, and hopefully not looking like a complete dickhead.
1. Start strong and select your parking space like you’ve been there before.
We’ve all seen fatass Marge from HR troll the parking lot for fifteen minutes trying to find the absolute closest spot to ensure that she burns no more than six calories today. Bush league. You’ll also notice her car is a piece of shit. No judgment there, but you have to take pride in your appearance, and your car is a part of that even though we aren’t in high school anymore. It may not be the jacked-up ‘97 two-door Tahoe with Flowmasters that, for some reason, was so damn cool in 2004, but it’s all you’ve got. The key to keeping your car pristine (relative term) is by avoiding all the serial, unrepentant door-dingers who plague your office lot like locusts who lack even the moral fortitude to leave a damn note. Side note: I also recommend taking strong advantage of Uber to avoid the patented four-beer “kinda buzzed parking lot barrier jump.” No one looks cool reversing back over a concrete divider.
When you get there at a respectable 8:12 a.m., park in the back of the lot where it’s pretty sparse. This way, you’re basically guaranteed not to get dinged between now and lunch, because your entire office hates exercise. Now you’re thinking, “Dude, it’s cold out and global warming is bullshit, I don’t wanna walk that far.” I hear you, believe me, but also try to keep in mind you’re fucking fat.
Not to worry, you tubby bastard. When you return from lunch, park as close as you want (without taking Marge laps). This will be easy because the higher-ups and degenerates will begin to trickle out around lunch after a long, three-hour day of making more than you or daring to be fired, respectively. Now you’re thinking, “Hey, dumbass, why won’t my shitty Corolla just get dinged when I get back from lunch?” A couple reasons, the most obvious one being that now, the numbers game is in your favor because higher-ups and degenerates make up about seventy percent of your bizarre office pyramid. Second, imagine the demeanor of someone arriving in the morning: late, disheveled, kicking his car door open like a fucking madman. All of this is done while juggling an oversized work bag and an adult lunch box. This guy is probably gripping his coffee with a fingertip stranglehold that would make Odell Beckham, Jr., look like Jim Abbott on top of everything else. Do you want this wheels-off Tasmanian devil parking next to you and wagering the sanctity of your Japanese princess? I don’t.
2. The vice president’s lunch buddy is an evil, gossipy bitch.
We all know Jenna. She’s the best buddy of a department head, a vice president, or some other person whom you’ve never met but can still fire you. Amidst all the palling around and expensed T.G.I. Fridays, everyone kind of forgot what Jenna’s actual job was. So did she, but no worries; she found her niche as the office narc and she’s been running that game hard for years now. She’s like Snoop Dogg in Training Day, except a bitch. She’s another hurdle to jump in creating the façade of you being a respectable employee. All the idiotic things you think you got away with because your boss didn’t find out are entirely dependent on this Chatty Cathy not finding out as well. Remember that time you were forty-five minutes late and no one saw you, but you got mysteriously written up the next day? Yeah, look no further than this succubus.
If she catches you surfing, G-chatting, or doing any other time-wasting activity, she will smell blood in the water and circle you like a shark circling refugees clinging to a Styrofoam cooler. Normally, she’ll catch you with your pants down when you can’t hold in a chuckle after watching your idiot buddy’s link to that YouTube video of a monkey smelling his own ass or something. Just like a shark that does nothing but eat all day, she will lumber in for a closer look to make sure your temporary, fleeting happiness wasn’t work-related so she can tattle on you. You haven’t sunk yet, though. Luckily for you, Jenna is a complete idiot.
You have a couple options here, and the correct one depends on your particular skill set. First, for those who are not theatrically inclined, always have an IM window up. As she approaches, laugh louder and type intently as if you and Joel from accounting are best buds rehashing some legendary tale over some el presidente margs. It’s not the strongest option, but at least it will guarantee that whatever made you laugh was at least spawned by someone in the building and not literally by monkeys playing with shit. As you bang on the keys like an enraged Neanderthal, she’ll quickly lose interest and leave to go ruin someone else’s career. You could also work your earpiece game and parlay that fart-like chuckle into a full-blown fake sales call. You’re killing it, laughing, throwing out some empty figures to no one, and spiking it in the end zone by saying, “Alright man, I’ll ping you later this week and we’ll nail down the details.” What does ping mean? No idea, but everyone uses it to denote some sort of future contact, so let’s go with it.
Also, this should go without saying, but do not divulge any potentially damning information to this enemy sleeper cell.
3. Keep your cool when volunteering for overtime.
Look, there’s nothing wrong with volunteering to come in for a few hours on the occasional Saturday or Sunday, even if you reek of booze and apathy from the night before. It’s phenomenal. It’s really a win-win. You get paid time and a half to power through your regimen of Gatorade, water, and Jimmy John’s, and then you inevitably load up a massive wad of Copenhagen to get you back to neutral before heading straight back to the bar for some questionably alcoholic day drinking.
But like all good things, overtime is best done in moderation. It seems like a paid hangover regimen is a no-brainer, but again, we’re back to appearances. If you volunteer to come in every weekend, the best case scenario is that you look like a gigantic kiss-ass; the worst case scenario is that you appear to have no life and you’re leading the office pool for “most likely to be a serial killer,” running away with it at three to one odds. You have to walk a fine line between being a team player and occasionally reminding management you’re only at work to fund your responsibilities and debauchery, and that you’re not one to be exploited.
4. Remember, no one likes “that guy.”
There are literally hundreds of ways you can quickly become “that guy,” and as unfair as it seems, it can come out of nowhere and stay with you forever. There are subtle ways to build a reputation as “that guy,” like consistently taking up two spots in the parking lot, never flushing, getting shit-faced during lunch, wearing shorts on a Friday, or being a constant “Reply All” offender. All are fairly innocent crimes (except not flushing, you shitpig) but repeating this behavior will brand you as an office dickhead for at least the next two quarters.
There are also other more egregious missteps that will catapult you to “that guy” status without having to be a repeat offender. Maybe your coworker got Cowboys playoff tickets — row one, level two — and you had too many $9 beers and puked over the railing onto the entire family of one of Jerry Jones’s mistresses. Hell hath no fury like a plastic-faced Jerry bimbo scorned. See you in hell.
Or maybe you took a handicapped parking spot because it was pouring rain, and you accounted for every handicapped person in the building with a remainder of two spots. No harm, no foul, right? Wrong. This particular day, there was someone who apparently didn’t know about the two handicap spots on the east side of the building and the only ones he knew about were full. He may not know it was you, but someone will find out. Bob Seger’s “Like a Rock” from the Chevy commercials plays in your head as that wheelchair rolls through the office, caked in mud and humiliation. A lifetime of independence and fending for himself has been shat on — he got stuck in the mud because he didn’t bring the electric chair today. Damn you, he didn’t bring the electric chair today.
Please, for your sake and everyone else’s, have a little class. Have a little dignity. And for God’s sake, act like you’ve been there before..
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