The story of a day in the life of an unsuccessful office worker

8:46am Stepping into the corporate world

The automatic sliding doors open in front of me.  

I step inside the thirty-four story office building. I’m stepping into a different world - out of the real world and into the corporate rat race.  

 Outside the corporate world (in the real world), a form of sanity exists. Inside, machines in human bodies and dark blue suits sit in cubicles and stare at screens all day long. 

Outside, you share friendship with your mates and their families. Inside, you kiss the butt of those above you and stomp on the heads of those beneath you.  

Outside, you talk about fun and interesting things. Inside, you talk about collaboration, cost efficiency, process improvement and project deadlines. 

Outside, you need not worry about politics of any form. Inside, playing effective office politics is critical for survival. 

Outside, people dare to dream. Inside, people focus on surviving the next restructure. 

Outside, you politely tell people you don’t like where to go. Inside, you tell your arrogant, prick bosses that you’ll get it done ASAP. 

Outside, you laugh at jokes that are funny. Inside, you laugh at jokes made by those above you. 

Outside, you sleep with your husband or wife. Inside, you sleep with your boss or whoever else is in the best position to advance your career.  

Gordon Ghecco once said that “Either you’re inside, or you’re outside.”  

True. But being outside, in the sane real world is much better than the inside world of concrete buildings, computer screens, office politics and project deadlines. 

The doors slide closed behind me and I am shut in.  

Another week in the corporate rat race.

8:34am The joy of finding a car park

In today’s corporate world, regular employees enjoy few privileges which are not available to senior management. 

In my company, the privilege of finding one’s own car park and paying for it is one exception. 

Regular staff may choose from any available car park in the city. Senior managers are forced to use one car park – the secure private facility located directly under our office building. 

Regular staff can shop around for the best price – usually about $15-$20 Australian dollars (USD $12-$15). Senior managers must accept a charge of $0, non-negotiable.  

Regular staff may choose their position within the car park from any of the three available spaces. Top level or back of the second top level? Facing a concrete wall or the headlights of another vehicle? They choose. 

Top level managers must accept the space allocated to them directly in front of the entrance to the office. 

This is one privilege I would gladly forgo. 

I enter Wilson Car Park in a state of desperation, after passing three ‘Lot full’ signs at other car parks. 

Level one…forget it. Try the second level. 

Level two…Great! There’s a spot – second floor – not bad! 

Hold on, there’s a sign… “No parking. All vehicles will be towed away. Fine $500.” Perhaps not. 

Level three…Great. A space just behind this van… Oh damn! There’s a tiny little Honda – it was obscured by the van. Bugger! 

Level four…No, no, no…Here’s one! The driver’s just backing out now. Good timing…wait…he’s going back in again. He was just straightening up. ****! 

I finally locate a park at the back of the top level. Upon my return, I am likely to find another vehicle in my way. When they reach this level, some drivers just give up in pure desperation and double-park, preventing the driver of the other vehicle from backing out. 

Accordingly, this is not a great space to park. But I’m already eleven minutes late so this will have to do. 

Late employees can’t be choosers.

8:06am The pile up at the end of the freeway

Anger and frustration simmer inside me as I reach the end of the freeway.  

Now comes the fun part - the bank up.  

A bottleneck occurs at the end of the freeway, resulting in a massive pile up of cars. Essentially, this involves a thirty minute period of sitting in the car in the middle of the road,  putting up with the bad taste of music of the driver next to me and creeping forward about two meters once every forty five seconds.  

This morning is no different. After the last 15 minutes of cutting and weaving, I finally reach the point where I have to slow down and come to a complete stop about 350m from the end of the freeway.  

Twenty seconds later, the lane on my right starts moving. Six cars pass and I see a small opportunity to move into that lane. Quickly, I take my opportunity and change lanes, prompting an angry horn blast from a driver two lanes over who had the same idea.  

Immediately, my new lane comes to a standstill and the lane I just changed from starts to move. Damn. I have to change back. Let’s see, now… no, no, no, oh here’s a chance. Quick, if I move now…oh bugger! The bloke behind me has got in first. Bugger! 

All I can do is sit hopelessly and watch as my lane remains at a standstill and car after car passes by in the lane I was in previously. Another small chance…Quick glance over the shoulder…clear…go! Yes, made it. Great … as if on cue, the lane I move into comes to an immediate standstill. The lane I changed out of starts moving again.  

Maybe it’s just easier to stay in one lane! 

Fuming mad, I pound the steering wheel with my fists, and utter some words which cannot be repeated. I look at my watch – twelve past eight – and then utter more words which cannot be repeated.  

But all I can do is sit and wait… and wait…and wait…

7:35am Early morning traffic, the usual fun and games

Seven thirty-five, my watch ominously says.  

Oh golly! Seven thirty five! I’m dead. One dead man!  

Office hours begin at eight thirty. Timing is crucial. If I leave by seven twenty, I beat the traffic, cruise down the freeway, get a dream run and arrive comfortably in the office at about ten past eight. I even have time to tuck my shirt in and fix my tie before my boss arrives. 

However, like clockwork, the traffic starts to build up on the freeway at around seven forty-five. If I don’t leave before seven thirty, like this morning and indeed, like most mornings, I get caught in the bank up.  

That’s just plain bad news. After the bank up starts, the trip down the freeway can be divided into two parts – the rally car racing for the majority of the way (see below) and the bank up at the end (see next post).  

This morning is no different. The freeway resembles more of a dodgem car ring than a road, except that the cars are traveling at 100 kilometers an hour. I approach it like a rally car driver on a race track. I weave in and out of traffic, take any opportunities to overtake or cut in front of other vehicles and try to block others from cutting in.   

It’s like navigating a space shuttle through an asteroid field. Some days I get through this by concentrating really hard. Other days, I just close my eyes and use the force. Today, I choose the latter approach. 

I once believed that driver courtesy was a virtue, that a little human kindness went a long way.  

But experience has taught me better. It’s a mug’s game out there. It’s every man for himself. If you’re too kind, people take advantage of you and cut in on your lane. It’s war on the freeway and you gotta be prepared for battle.  

Nice guys don’t win.