It’s been a handful of years since I worked in the business world but last night while Matt and I talked about work and companies in general it hit me. There are solid reasons why I left the rat race to pursue the life of a starving artist but none are clearer than the way business is done in Corporate American society.
Last weekend we tossed on a classic favorite, Office Space, and although we laughed, that might have just been the five bottles of sake rearing their head because the real comedy, is that it’s serious (thanks Jason).
When Matt and I started broaching the subject about the life of a corporate sheep, er, uh, I mean, employee last night it hit me that, no matter what, every single boss everywhere is Lumberg. I suddenly realized that I never wanted to be Lumberg and that’s essentially the main reason I work alone. But it really doesn’t exempt me from anything.
I got to talking about just why every single boss is like Lumberg and realized that in all companies, yes mine included, there are really only ever three questions that need answering.
1. Can I do this?
2. How long ago can it be completed?
3. How much am I going to make?
Truthfully we talked through the entire Bruins game last night and no matter what "yeah, but[s]" we tried to throw out there, every single issue, success, question, and model in business ended up coming back to nothing more than answering those three questions.
I’m certainly guilty of it, even as an artist running my finishing business, because I need to be sure that it’s a job I can actually complete before I agree to doing it (#1), that I work quickly and efficiently so the homeowner can get their space back again (#2) and of course that I make enough to cover materials plus my time and labor (and a profit never hurts of course) (#3). Anything else discussed with a homeowner or other industry professional will always go back to those three question’s answers.
For me that’s fine because I have no one to answer to other than myself and my clients right? If they see #3 and its too high a price #’s 1 & 2 don’t really matter anymore because I’m not doing the job. Period. Not to mention, because I work solo, I don’t have eight different bosses coming by to tell me about mistakes I made (#1) that are sure to cost the company time (#2) and money (#3).
But Matt does.
Matt has someone he needs to answer to at all times in his job. Well, he has only one boss, but sometimes with the pressure it sounds like he is under on a daily basis it might as well be eight.
So what does that mean for Matt? I suppose that if he goes into his job with the knowledge that, no matter what, his boss, co-workers, employees (and even himself!), are trying to answer those questions at every turn he might be able to approach work from a different angle. Maybe not but at least he can try to laugh about any and all situations that arise because regardless of the drama, it’s always all about three little answers.
He said he wants to get the questions printed as a poster. I can only assume he would like to hang it in his office in an attempt to passive-aggressively annoy his boss.
Of course by doing that he could get fired and then he’s certainly not making very much is he (#3)?
Then again, it would mean channeling his inner Peter (the character in the movie that every employee longs to be at one time or another) and then he might just not care anymore (bye-bye #'s 1 & 2!).
I’m thinking of getting it printed up on a tee shirt for him for Valentine’s Day. I’m just trying to figure out the best header to go above the questions, for descriptive purposes of course.
Luckily my printing it isn’t a business or else I’d have to answer those three questions before I could even come up with a header.