It may seem strange to include a comic strip compilation in a top ten list of books, and I will admit to being strange. Scott Adams, however, has a way of capturing the insanity of working life in Dilbert that simply makes me laugh. How many of you have clipped a favorite out of the paper and posted it in your office. I laminate the really good ones before they are hung.
Visitors to my office often comment on the artwork. It has been a good way to get to know folks who share my sense of humor and share the brilliance of Scott Adams. You can also tell those who don’t get it. Maybe Scott’s cartoons are a complex “Sorting Hat” (Harry Potter reference) for office people. Those who do not get it, please stay outside my cube.
I remember sitting with a colleague and looking at my collection of Dilbert strips. We laughed so hard as we shared stories about our experiences with our company. I was in engineering and he worked with sales and marketing even though he was also an engineer.
If I had a nickel for every time I heard someone say “If I had a nickel,” I’d have many nickels. Seriously, if I had a nickel for every time I have read a Dilbert comic, shook my head, and sighed at how close he got to something that I had been through. We have all experienced bosses who have no clue about what we do and have had to implement crazy (and often costly) ideas based on the whim of some Vice-President, who often is not around very long.
I have actually had an office for a time, but I more often than not work in a cube city. Scott Adams’ tributes to life in cube are some of my favorites. Here are a few (along with my musings in the captions) for you to enjoy (at least until he finds out and makes me take them down). Did I mention that you should all visit his web-site and buy his books?
If you ever happen to wander into a cube city, notice how the dwellers tend to orient their screens so that you cannot see what they are doing. Solitaire seems popular with many cube dwellers.
Don't laugh. Having a cubicle with a window is status (I now have one). We have had grievances filed about being "passed over" when a windowed cube becomes vacant.
I have been trapped in my cubicle. There is no escape.
I was on an employee-management team that worked on work issues. Believe it or not, one of the issues related to an employee who often clipped their nails in their cube. The neighboring employee did not like the noise or the potential of flying clippings. Cover your coffee cup!
I actually did this to a colleague (yes we are still friends) in 1989 (before Scott Adams' cartoon). I sat next to her. Her loss was my gain until she figured it out. That's nearly 20 years ago and it still makes me laugh when I remember it. Cubicle life can be very tedious so practical jokes become a way to survive the fabric jungle.
There is NO privacy in Cube-World. I once had a neighbor comment on what he overheard on my personal telephone conversation.
Monday mornings are a big time to cubicle roam and talk. Interestingly enough, very few discussions happen during the lunch hour.
God can only help you if you occupy a cube near the communal coffee pot. At our office, management has designated limited areas where coffee makers can be located. It seems that too many people were bringing in personal electronic devices like radios, coffee makers, heaters, fans, crock pots. Our managers had to make surprise inspections to ensure that personal devices were not stealing energy from the company. The law of unintended results kicked in as employees started listening to the radio via the internet (bogging down the system) and employees got "notes" from their doctors for heaters/fans because maintaining comfortable temperatures in a cube city is difficult. The personal radio ban was promptly lifted, but we do have a form to complete if we want to plug a crock pot into a receptacle (typically a holiday event). Yes some genius in management actually spent time designing a form (they probably had some support person do it and supervised it's design).
I knew a guy who would always be at work on time and most days even a little early. He promptly opened the paper and read for 30 minutes or so. Since I left that company, he has been promoted twice. On an unrelated note and oddly enough, I have noted that the best time to find an empty stall in the men's room is at lunch time. It seems that a lot of folks prefer to do their business while on the clock.
I know that this doesn't really have much to do with cubicle life, but it illustrates another pet peeve of mine (there are sooo many). The "Reply to All" button is the bane to productivity. It seems that too many people cannot differentiate between it and the "Reply" button. These invariably also happen to be the folks who don't know that the "Shift" key allows them to capitalize certain letters and the keys on the lower right-hand side provide options for punctuation. Oh and God forbid that one of these folks mistakenly hit the "Caps Lock" key and proceeds to scream in all of their messages.
Over the years I have dutifully purchased each of Scott Adams’ compilations. When I saw Dilbert 2.0: 20 Years of Dilbert at Costco, I had to have it. It is a massive volume containing of 20 years of Dilbert. What I have really enjoyed is Scott Adams’ commentary throughout the book. The book is heavy and a bit expensive, until you think about how much is in there. The collection is priceless.
Whether you work in corporate America, consulting, or the ultimate bureaucracy, government, you will enjoy this book.