For everyone who suffers through yawningly lengthy staff meetings, wades through daily floods of rambling and irrelevant e-mails, and battles terminal boredom every time a Power Point presentation clicks on, Jeffrey Yamaguchi’s Working for the Man is the perfect antidote. With deliciously irreverent humor, Yamaguchi gives work in the Land of the Cubicle a whole new and much-needed spin.
However, Working for the Man is more than just another addition to the 101-reasons-why-we-all hate-work genre; rather, it contains a host of ideas—some downright wacky, some sure to get you fired, some that will assure your name goes down in your company’s employee mythology—for making work a little less like a forced labor camp and a little more fun.
Working for the Man provides the subversively ambitious worker with concrete ideas for annoying, poking fun at, and/or getting a private laugh at the expense of everyone from idiotic bosses to the co-worker who heats leftover fish in the microwave every day. For instance, Yamaguchi suggests that workers should inoculate themselves against the attacks of hostile and unreasonable bosses by keeping a private list of their every missed meeting, shouting rant, late arrival, and missed deadline. Yamaguchi even thoughtfully provides a sample evaluation sheet (including items such as “How pointless does your boss make the meetings he/she runs?”).
In the sections dedicated to dealing with co-workers, Yamaguchi suggests posting subversive notes about the office (such as a “Don’t do it, fatso” on the vending machine), filming the reaction, and editing it into a charming little documentary. What about that obnoxious guy two rows over from you?—why not surreptitiously put a big cake with “Good Luck [name of coworker]—We’ll Miss You!” in the break room? Or create Wanted posters with an unflattering picture of him that mysteriously turn up posted all over the inside and outside of the building?
Some of Yamaguchi’s projects require group participation, such as instigating friendly competition: best lasagna, best cup of coffee, most e-mails in a day. Others, like elevator racing or Meeting Survival Bingo, might get the group of you in hot water, but nothing takes the sting out of misery like camaraderie.
Yamaguchi writes like a hip and brainy Dilbert; Working for the Manshould be de rigueur for every Cubicle Land novice. It should be issued by management along with all that HR stuff every employee is given when they are hired—it’s definitely more useful and infinitely more interesting. Even if you don’t have the guts to go through with even one of Working for the Man’s projects, just reading it will help ease the pain of the daily slog. In fact, Working for the Man is so funny, it will make those of you who aren’t residents of Cubicle Land wish you were—or, at least, almost.