Don’t Kid Yourself. You Are Expendable.
Anyone here like Office Space?
Anyway, there’s a part in the movie that has always rang true to me more than any other, although most of it is biting. It’s the conversation Michael Bolton and Samir have with Peter. And it goes something like this:
Lumbergh's gonna have me work on Saturday, I can tell already. And I’m gonna do it because I'm a big pussy. Which is why I work at Initech to begin with.
Uh, I work at Initech and I don't consider myself a pussy, ok?
Yes, I am also not a pussy.
And they’re gonna find out the hard way that I'm not a pussy if they don't start treating us software people better.
They don't understand. I could come up with a program that could rip that place off big time…big time.
Later in the movie Michael and Samir get shitcanned. No warning. Just dumped. And all that fuck you bravado went straight out the window.
That boasting and self-assurance is something I have heard throughout my entire advertising career. A bunch of fevered egos strutting around thinking they’re untouchable. They’re rock stars. They kill it. They basically do everything important, do nothing wrong, and if you don’t agree you can go fuck yourself.
They bitch about how poorly they’re treated. They whine and complain about the long hours, the crappy pay, the shit benefits, the awful clients, the dogshit briefs, the lousy account managers, the rotten creatives and the fact that the agency is going down the crapper. But they are the oasis in this desert of mediocrity. They shine. And without them, the whole damned company would be nothing.
I guarantee, you will hear this raving braggadocio conversations in your agency sometime this week. Probably sometime today if you tee up a conversation with “how are things going?” or “what’s going on with client X?”
You may even, dare I say it, be one of the people who believes they are, in fact, the most important cog in the machine.
Think about it.
Do you think “this place would be fucked without me” at least once a week? Do you wonder how half the people around you get a paycheck? Do you have to bite your fist to stop yourself saying “how the fuck are you still employed?” to your boss?
Well, this is your wake-up call.
I don’t care if you’re the boy who gets the mail, the blonde bombshell account exec, the award-winning writer or art director, or the shit-hot creative director.
When push comes to shove, and other suitable clichés, you are not bulletproof. The sad fact is, there are meetings happening all the time about the state of the business. If you’re part of a large corporation, there’s a meeting like that happening right now.
They talk about profit margins. Trimming the dead wood. Streamlining. Hiring a younger team. Bringing in new experience. Fresh blood. Or just “that smartass who never stops complaining.”
If you're a crack creative team with 20 years’ experience, that means you (hopefully) do fabulous work. It also means you get paid more than most, and have the attitude that goes with it. There are younger, better looking, hungrier teams out there willing to do your job for half the price. And they won’t spend all day bitching about the shitty clients and awful briefs, they’ll just be happy to be in work. They’re in, you’re out.
That’s when you sit up one morning, and realize you didn’t have it so fucking bad after all. And shit, where do I go from here?
I know people like this. It sucks for them, and it’s scary for me because I come close to being that arrogant, whiny little bitch on a daily basis. Sometimes, I fit into the role like it was made just for me.
When you find yourself thinking you are unbeatable, unfireable (it’s not a word, but it works) and irreplaceable, remember you are none of the above. You may be great, perhaps even the best at what you do, but it doesn’t give you immunity form the axe. All it takes is for one big client to leave, one important person to hate your guts, or one stinking bad attitude, and you're out on your ear.
And as I finish this, I should also add…spending time doing something other than what you’re paid to do is also something that can put you on the hot list.
But shit, at least I look busy to passersby.
Felix is a site contributor, ranter and curmudgeon for The Denver Egotist. He’s been in the ad game a long time, but he’s still young enough to know he doesn’t know everything. If he uses the f-bomb from time-to-time, forgive him. Sometimes, when you're ranting, no other word will do. In his spare time, he does not torture small animals. He's been known, on occasion, to drink alcohol by the gallon. Do as he says, not as he does.