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

11:08am Delighting in the success of others

In corporate life, it’s difficult to delight in the success of others. 

Some people experience mixed emotions upon hearing about the success of others.  

I don’t. I just feel pure envy and jealousy. But I have learned to apply a façade of graciousness. 


What I say (with manufactured smiles and enthusiasm): 

·        “Congratulations on your promotion, you deserve it.” 

·        “Wow. Love your new car. A convertible. That’s really cool.” 

·        “I’m so happy for you both. You two are made for each other.” 


How I really feel 

·        “Who’d you sleep with to get your third promotion this year while I’m stuck in mediocrity going nowhere.” 

·        “Why do you get to cruise around with the stereo pumping and the top down while I’m stuck in my old Volkswagen which won’t start half the time?”                                                                                                     ·        “Why do you two get to be smiling lovebirds while I wallow endlessly in desperate solitude?” 

Little do I know, I am about to be hit by a bombshell - some ‘great’ news from a colleague which will cause extreme disappointment for me. (details next post) 

Once again, I will need to conceal envy with a manufactured facade of graciousness.

11:05am The Phantom of the Opera

Friendly interactions with colleagues whilst dealing with work related issues are essential for building cooperative workplace relationships. 

But for the relationship to become more intimate, less superficial interactions are required. 

Accordingly, as Jane is copying the check for me, I need to find out about her hobbies and interests. 

“What did you do last weekend?” I ask. 

“I saw a musical at the Arts Centre. It was great. The singing was wonderful.” 

“Really, I like the theatre as well,” I reply.  

Actually, I don’t know anything about performing arts. Nor do I particularly care.  But Jane obviously does, so I need to create the impression of sophistication.  

Think…Think…What’s one musical I at least know the name of….Think…I know….The Phantom of the Opera…That was by some guy…Webber, wasn’t it? 

“I really like the Phantom of the Opera.” I lie. Never seen it - never will. “His music is wonderful.” 

“Really, I love Phantom of the Opera.”  

OK. Good choice. But this is dangerous ground. Follow up conversation may expose my ignorance. Switch topic ASAP. 

But she continues before I can do so. “What did you think of Christine Day’s disappearance?”   

Oh dear - trouble. Who is the bloody hell is Christian Day? I’ve never heard of the man. Is he an actor or a character? 

From what Jane said, obviously he disappeared. What - is he like Elvis or something? What can I say here? 

“I thought…it was a real mystery,” I manage to blurt. Good response under pressure. 

“Yeah, I thought so, too. You know Stewie, it’s great to see guy like you who’s interested in arts and culture. I’m very impressed.” 

Yes! Did I hear that correctly – yes! I’ve got her fooled.  

She thinks I am refined and culturally aware. Better yet – she is impressed with me! 

It must obviously be Christine Day, not Christian Day. But never mind that. 

Sophistication and cultural awareness are not prerequisites for attracting women – the ability to fake them is.

11:02am Could I please have a copy of the cheque?

“Excuse me, Jane. Do you know if Rod Johns has paid his outstanding invoice from last month?” 

“Oh. Hi Stewie. I don’t know…I’ll just have to check…Hold on a minute” 

Jane Roberts is twenty eight, blonde and single. She is one of the five prospective candidates to make my short list for office romance.  

In order to ensure fairness in the selection process, I am obligated to initiate as much contact with each candidate as possible. Accordingly, I ‘have to’ elicit assistance from Jane in following up this payment. 

“Yep…it seems that was paid…last Tuesday.” 

“Great, do you have a copy of the cheque on file? I just need it for the reconciliation.” 

“No problem, I’ll just get the file.” 

A further obligation I have is to observe each candidate carefully. With this in mind, I have inconspicuously positioned myself in the best possible vantage point from which to scrutinize Jane’s retrieval of the file.  

Points to watch carefully include: 

·        her style of movement from the chair to the filing cabinet;  

·        the methodology with which her hands and eyes flick through and scan the folder to locate and retrieve the cheque; and 

·        the degree of conviction and authority she displays when handling or operating the photocopier.    

“Let’s see… July payments…July payments …” mutters a delightful voice as fine-looking fingers flick pages in search of the payment.  

“Here it is. I’ll just copy this for you.” 

“Thanks. That would be great.” 

Three things have been accomplished. I have built further rapport with Jane through friendly interaction, I have made further observation on Jane’s credentials for romance and last and certainly least - I have obtained a copy of the check payment for my reconciliation. 

November Blog review

Dear Readers, 

Today, I would like to take a break from my office worker story and talk about some of the blogs which I read during November. 

From now on, early in each month, I intend to provide a brief review of a few of the blogs which I have found interesting or enjoyable during the preceding month. 

Broadly speaking, the types of blogs I enjoy include humorous office jokes as well as more serious blogs about dealing with life in the today’s corporate world. 


Word Sell Inc  

This blog, written by sales and marketing specialist Brad Shorr, has both a serious side and a humorous side. 

On the more serious side of the blog, Brad draws on his background in marketing to provide some common sense discussion about effective promotional strategies and ways to build customer relationships. 

On the less serious side, Brad provides some humorous cartoons which give us an opportunity to sit back and have a good-natured laugh about life at the office. 

Another feature of this blog is “Words for Nerds.” In this section, Brad enlightens normal regular people about the meanings of words you have probably never heard of and never intend to use. Don’t know what “Soporific” means? Brad’s November 23 entry deciphers this mystery for you.  



Office Humor Blog 

Bored at work? The office humor blog is here to help! 

This blog makes a great read for those times when you want a quick joke with your colleagues. The site features office jokes, pranks, poems and much more. 

During November, I particularly like the post giving ten reasons to ask for a raise (November 29) and the best Out of Office automated email replies (November 26). 



Resources For Attourneys – Office Jokes, Humor and Satire 

Another good one for a quick laugh.  

In November, this blog discusses what happens to people of different occupations when they get old (November 16) as well as some good reasons to go to work – well – naked. (November 03 – no explicit photos, just good humor) 


The Decision Strategist  

An economist by training and an entrepreneur by heart, Nick (nickname Zot) is here to provide some practical advice into the decision making process, whether it be in the realm of business, investment or personal decisions. 

In my favorite November posts, Zot discusses making the really hard decisions in life (November 19) and ponders the issues that he considers to be important in leading a meaningful life. (November 18) 


All in a day’s work  

In this blog, Kishore, a techie from

Bangalore, reflects on work, his life and his opinions. 

On November 18, Kishore reflected upon an experience which many of us can no doubt relate to – that of his first day in the big corporate world and his transition from university life to corporate life. 


Hustle Humor  

On a site aimed primarily aimed at helping entrepreneurs to leverage money making opportunities, this humor blog provides some good laughs for those who are hustling to succeed in achieving their dreams life. 

On November 04, Da Hustle describes ten things you need to be a good CEO.  


Write Well Me  

Driven by a passion for language and writing, Dawn has created her own company to help those who share her passion to further develop their skills to maximize the effectiveness of their writing. 

In this blog, Dawn describes her experiences and challenges as she enters her new venture. Last week was the first week of a new schedule which she has set for herself – can she stick to it? 


Change Therapy  

A professional counselor, Isabella Mori writes in depth about dealing with the important and challenging emotional issues in life. 

Entries which particularly caught my attention were posted on November 09 and November 17. On November 09,  Isabella discusses thinking differently about success, failure and learning. On November 17, Isabella commences a two part discussion (part 2 is posted on November 22) relating to how to deal with negative experiences at work.  


I hope you enjoy some of the blogs above.  

The regular office worker story will resume tomorrow. In the next few posts, our office worker friend ventures down to the credit department, takes a long lunch break and then decides to hunker down for some real hard work in the afternoon. 





10:58am Inch by inch, everything’s a cinch

In today’s corporate world, it is easy to become overwhelmed when confronted with a challenging task. 

Breaking the task down into a series of smaller, step by step processes often helps to make the task appear to be more realistically achievable. 

This is exactly how I feel about the task of getting involved in a relationship with the ladies in the credit department.  

When I think about the task as a whole, I feel overwhelmed. Accordingly, I have developed a step by step plan: 


Step 1: Choose some appropriate ladies to court. 

At this point, I need not restrict my choice to one lady. I need only narrow the selection down to a short list. 


Step 2: Initiate ‘surface level’ contact with target ladies. 

Make up any excuse to initiate regular contact on work related matters with women short listed from step 1. Ask for assistance in following up invoices, checking customer payments, accruals or anything else I can think of. 


Step 3: Move into more general conversation 

Hobbies…interests…what they do on the weekend…that kind of stuff. 

Fake an interest in their lives. 


Step 4: Make some moves. 

To avoid suspicion, target ladies must be short listed to one at this point. 

Ask prospect for coffee or lunch. 

To add extra class, pay for both of you with credit card. Allow a healthy tip for the waiter and pray that the transaction is not declined. 


Step 5: Ask short listed prospect to go out with me. 

Armed with a step by step plan, the accomplishment of my goal no longer seems like an overwhelming task.  

Now for the hard part – taking action on the plan.

10:53am The art of dressing for success

Appearance is vital for success – particularly when the goal is to impress the young women in the Credit Department. 

That is why I always keep a toilet bag in the drawer at my workstation - in case I ‘have to’ go down to the credit department. This contains essentials such as a comb, a toothbrush and toothpaste, shaving equipment and of course, aftershave. 

Before proceeding, I must check my appearance in the bathroom.  

Hair … a little out of place. No problem. A few seconds with the comb and this is fixed up.  

Tie … just needs a slight adjustment … yep, that’s right. 

Shirt … Oh dear - Half tucked in and half out … and my favorite Monday ‘Lord of the Rings’ boxers are showing in parts – the pictures of Gandalf and Frodo are visible! 

Sixty seconds of adjustment fixes that problem. 

Face … a few hairs. Two minutes work with my shaving equipment and that is dealt with. 

A little aftershave … there … perfect. 

You may wonder why I didn’t check my appearance before coming to work in the first place. I work on the executive floor, along with my supervisor and many other influential people, mostly middle aged men. These men are influential, and I want to impress them with the quality of my work.  

But I am not trying to win over their hearts. Nor am I particularly concerned if they do not find me physically attractive. 

I am, however, trying to win the hearts of the women in the Credit Department. 

Is dressing for success essential in today’s corporate world?  

If your goals include relationships with attractive colleagues – then yes. 

Dressing for success is essential.

10:55am Deal with the small issues first

In order to work in a truly effective manner, your mind must be free to focus on big picture issues and key priority tasks. 

As an accountant, I prefer to clear up small accounting issues first. Then, I can later deal with larger and more important issues without distraction. 

This provides me with the justification I need to spend the next hour with the ladies in the credit department. 

Located on the ground floor, the credit department has twenty-nine staff, consisting of four males and twenty-five females. Of the female staff, nineteen are aged under thirty five, eleven are unmarried and I must say that some of these women are, well, rather attractive.  

I will make any excuse to ‘have to’ go down there. 

This morning, I have three customer payments which I ‘need’ to follow up ‘urgently’ in order to account for them correctly in the monthly financial reports. 

The three payments in question represent an aggregate value of four hundred and fifteen dollars and nineteen cents.  

I have other accounting issues worth about $8 million to resolve before finalizing the first draft of the monthly management reports - due tomorrow night. Given this, one might suggest that I should leave the Credit Department issues and focus on resolving issues of greater financial importance.  

I disagree. It’s better to deal with these to small issues first. Later, I can focus on more important issues without distraction. 

Accordingly, I have complete justification to spend the next hour chatting up the ladies in the credit department whilst I pretend to look for forms relating to the customer payments in question.

10:33am My Greatest Sacrifice

Commitment and sacrifice are crucial for success in any area of life. 

Over a healthy breakfast of coffee and doughnuts at the coffee shop, I share with colleagues Jack and Arnie the story of the greatest sacrifice I have ever made – my choice of football team. 

For twenty years, I have had the misfortune of barracking for the Richmond Football Club, otherwise known as the Tigers. They are a pathetic Australian Rules football team whose only skill in the last two decades has been to find new ways to disappoint their supporters. 

Arnie wonders why I ever choose such a bad football team. “My girlfriend,” I explain. 

Arnie looks puzzled. “But you don’t have a girlfriend.” 

“No, I’m talking about my girlfriend from when I was seven years old. Back then, I wanted to demonstrate my honest and sincere devotion to her and her family.  

The best way to do that was to change my football team. Her family were passionate

Richmond supporters. I wanted to show them the extent to which I was willing to sacrifice for our relationship.  

“Did it work?” Jack asked. 

“Nah, she dumped me for my best mate the next day. Now, they’re married with two kids. I’m still not speaking to them.” 

“So Stewie,” Arnie clears his throat. “Tell me, why do you still barrack for them, even though they are the worst team in history?” 

I sigh. “I guess it’s symbolic. I know she’s married, but deep down inside, I’m still hoping to get back with her.  

I mean, I really felt we had something during the two weeks we spent together twenty years ago. I want to hold on to what we had. I guess, I’m finding it hard to let go and move on with my life.” 

Sometimes, you have to sacrifice your dreams for those you love. Twenty years ago, I sacrificed my most important dream – the hope of barracking for a football team that may one day win a premiership – for that of the woman I loved. 

My sacrifice has come with twenty years of pain, but it was worth it. 

Neither commitment nor sacrifice is ever easy, but both are necessary for success.

10:30am How to make sensible decisions

Your decisions determine your destiny. 

Sensible decisions are crucial for success. 

My professional training has taught me to undertake a cost-benefit analysis when faced with important decisions. Under this approach, the benefits of undertaking a certain action are compared to any costs or drawbacks of this action. 

I am now faced with an important decision. It’s ten thirty and a caffeine fix is required. Should I go over to the coffee shop with Jack and Arnie or should I tolerate instant coffee from the staff tea-room?   

Drawing on my professional expertise, I undertake a cost benefit analysis in order to help me choose the best option. 


Benefits of going to coffee shop 

·        Taste:  Fresh tasting cappuccino at the coffee shop beats barely drinkable instant caffeine fix  from staff room; 

·        Food:  Doughnuts, vanilla slices and muffins also available.  

·        Conversation: Tea-room topics such as who’s complaining about what in which department, the best specials at the supermarket and the latest sex scandal in Hollywood are not as interesting as coffee shop discussions about football, hot stock tips and the latest developments in Jack’s divorce proceedings. 

·        Polluted air: I get one minute and twenty six seconds of true polluted city air while crossing the street to get to the shop. Polluted air yes, but real air nonetheless. 


Cost of going to the shop 

·        Cost: An important consideration given that I am far from affluent.  

The offerings in the kitchen may be barely consumable, but they are free. The premium offerings at the coffee shop are not. Quality costs. 

·        Backstabbing: Absence from tea room discussions about who’s complaining about what in which department is risky as you may become an easy target for backstabbing. 

Given that I did not eat breakfast, considerable weight must be given to the food factor on the benefits side. 

On balance, the benefits of going to the coffee shop outweigh the costs. So I’m going. 

When faced with important decisions, undertaking a cost benefit analysis will help you to select the best option. 

Better decisions lead to better outcomes and a more successful life.

9:43am Making my dreams happen

For many, turning dreams into reality is a difficult challenge.  

They must develop effective work habits, initiative, sacrifice, discipline and the courage to put their best foot forward. 

I, too, face challenges in turning my dreams into reality.  

If I am to turn my dreams into reality without doing any real work, I have to enhance my skills and techniques in terms of office politics 

Specifically, I need to develop more effective skills in the following areas: 

·        knowing who to be nice to and when;  

·        making full-proof excuses;  

·        getting wrongful credit for ideas or work done by others;  

·        transferring blame when something has gone wrong; and  

·        having inappropriate relations with influential female managers. 

Some believe that I am taking the wrong approach and that diligence and sacrifice are more important than office politics. They point to the fact that I have been fired from four jobs in five years since leaving university.  

But don’t write me off just yet. Getting ahead through office politics alone will take a lot of patience, skill and practice. Successful people make mistakes and learn from them. 

Persistence and continual learning are keys to success.

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