Friday, August 5, 2011

The joys of office life

Boring offices jobs – everybody’s had one, even writers. Joshua Ferris made the most of his experience and created a hysterical collection of stories from the office.  I first read this novel during a horrible summer internship in which I was stuck behind a desk in a mundane cubicle for eight hours. Each night I would go home, read a few chapters, and laugh out loud at his examples of the abominable place that is the quintessential American office space.

  "There was so much unpleasantness in the work day world. The last thing you ever wanted to do at night was go home and do the dishes. And just the idea that part of the weekend had to be dedicated to getting the oil changed and doing the laundry was enough to make those of us still full from lunch want to lie down in the hallway and force anyone dumb enough to remain committed to walk around us. It might not be so bad. They could drop food down to us, or if that was not possible, crumbs from their PowerBars and bags of microwave popcorn surely would end up within an arm's length sooner or later. The cleaning crews, needing to vacuum, would inevitably turn us on our sides, preventing bedsores, and we would make little toys out of runs in the carpet, which, in moments of extreme regression, we might suck on for comfort."

No one gets at boredom in the office quite like Edward Hopper. And look at this guy – dude is probably bored out of his mind. He’s sitting in an office, staring out the window.  Clearly he isn’t thinking about his work. Maybe he’s thinking about how much he wants out of this room. Whatever it is that’s on his mind, it doesn’t involve the office.  This guy could be Ferris.

Speaking of boredom, there is also tons of wasting time in Then We Came To The End. The characters often look to each other for entertainment, but sometimes it ended badly…

"We told him to get on with it. We liked wasting time, but almost nothing was more annoying than having our wasted time wasted on something not worth wasting it on."

Surprisingly enough, lots of artists create scenes of wasting time. Think about it –before office jobs and technology, how did people fill up their day? By sitting around staring into space. Or sitting around in a gown staring into space in your gorgeous chair if you’re a Victorian woman like John Singer Sargeant paints here: 

Do you know of any other awesome paintings that depict boredom/loneliness/wasting time?

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