Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Office Space -- Sequel Needed

For all the terrible movies who have been followed up by even worse sequels -- and for all the great movies whose images have been besmirched by awful sequels -- there is one movie that stands out for me as needing a sequel that I don't know will ever come to fruition -- Office Space.

I know I love this movie, and it almost doesn't seem to matter how many times I see it. For anyone who has ever worked in, well, an Office Space, the line of humor just nails it both in the writing and the delivery. Throw in a copule absurd plot twists, the blandness and lameness of chain restaurants that try to be "homey," a love story and a really funny neighbor, and voila, there's your greatness for the ages.

In many ways, one might think the military is immune / exempt from the type of nonsense that makes Office Space so ridiculous. That's mostly right, but a lot of that goes out the window on staffs (i.e. non-operational, non-deploying commands).

That's where I currently work now...on a staff, in an office with real live cubicles where the biggest risk to my person is a probably a papercut.

And not once yesterday but twice, I saw real live grown men in paygrades slightly higher than mine make a big deal over who went to lunch without asking them.

Never mind that people might be busy and can't plan their lunches around others.

Never mind that the offenders may have looked for them, didn't see them, and just went ahead anyway.

Never mind that the whole thing is just utterly stupid, and makes thirty-something men look like grade-schoolers.

One of my favorite all-time military writers is the contemporary Atlantic Monthly writer Robert Kaplan. He writes non-fiction based on his (vast) experiences traveling and embedding with U.S. military units.

One of his greatest lines came after comparing the utter professionalism witnessed in an Iraq-based infantry unit's Tactical Operations Center (TOC) and contrasting it with the awful military bearing and lack of respect he received from a servicemember at one of the intra-theater flight desks. To paraphrase:

"The professionalism, bearing, and general esprit de corps of any military unit comes in direct proportion to its closeness to actual operations / tactical-level reality."

In other words, huge staffs really do turn into "Office Space" parodies of themselves. Some, who work directly for the boss, might be so busy that they just grab lunch when they can.

Others, with considerably less on their plate, would rather see that decision turned into a committee-level negotiation with proposals, rebuttals, and point paper counterproposals (I believe Blimpie's carries the motion, do all concur?)

If that all sounds incredibly stupid or absurd, that's because it is. If you work in an "Office Space" too, though, you can probably relate.

But just try explaining that to the guy sleeping on a freezing cold mountain ridge right now in Helmand Province, or the guy eating MREs on an all-day urban dismounted patrol in Mosul.

1 comment:

Richard said...

Office is really good and I have to agree that if you work in an "Office Space" too, you can probably relate. Thank you for sharing. More power!

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