You know what I miss most about my day job — besides the paycheck? I miss the water cooler.
It’s not that we don’t have plenty of cold drinks and snacks available here at home. I’m perfectly well sweetened, salted, and hydrated–repeat–repeat again–with a special emphasis on sweets during a certain time of the month. Believe me, I’ve got the literal water cooler covered, except for the whole “free” part.
What I miss is the water cooler chitchat about the latest episode of Grey’s Anatomy and The Sopranos. I looked forward to our Monday morning quarterbacking of Tony and Carmela’s latest relationship upheaval or Meredith’s most recent ill-advised conquests.
Our little chats were like standing play dates that lasted 13 weeks, not counting re-runs.
Now that school’s out, I can’t even kibbitz with the PTA moms about the latest episode of Sponge Bob. I’m already feeling withdrawals, and it’s only the first week of summer.
Ironically, now that I no longer have an office to go to, I’ve come to appreciate the pleasures of The Office on TV. I came a little bit late to this delightfully deadpan show, where inappropriate remarks, petty behavior, and zero productivity are all in a day’s work.
And unlike the real offices I’ve worked in, at the Dunder-Mifflin paper company, no one ever has the energy to go out to lunch, let alone talk about important political and social events like TV shows.
The workplace scenarios are oh-so adult and familiar, even though the humor is oh-so wonderfully, and quoteably juvenile. If only I still had a cubicle to toss lines over like, “This is our receptionist, Pam. If you think she’s cute now you should have seen her a couple of years ago!” Or another favorite: “You know what they say about a car wreck, where it’s so awful you can’t look away? This is like a car wreck that you want to look away from but you have to stare at it because your boss is making you.”
My teenage nephews appreciate the show as much as I do, which comes in handy, since I no longer have office-mates to discuss it with.
We can hardly wait for the July 13 “webisodes” to begin. I’m betting they’ll be about Toby, the HR guy, who is, in my humble opinion, a character with a lot of unexplored potential. As Michael (the boss) says, “Toby is in HR, which technically means he works for corporate, so he’s really not a part of our family. Also, he’s divorced, so he’s really not a part of his family.”
His HR-like HR-policies have been the driver behind most of my favorite moments at “The Office.”
For example, when Toby talks with Michael about inappropriate fraternizing with employees, Michael summons the troops to make one of his infamous announcements.
“Attention everyone, hello! Yes, I just want you to know that this is not my decision but from here on out, we can no longer be friends. And when we talk about things here, we must only discuss work-associated things. And uh, you can consider this my retirement from comedy. And in the future if I want to say something funny, or witty, or do an impression I will no longer, ever, do any of those things.”
Jim, who is actually the only character on the show who resembles anyone I’ve ever worked with, then says, “Does that include ‘That’s what she said?'” (See what I mean about the nephews appreciating it?)
Michael replies, “Mmm hmm, yes.”
Jim: “Wow. That is really hard. (My nephews are rolling on the floor at this point, as is my husband.) You really think you can go all day long? (On the show, Michael nearly bursts trying not to say it.) Well, you always left me satisfied and smiling.”
So much for dignity, I am practically peeing my pants by the time Michael finally says, “That’s what she said!”
Did you see that one? Wasn’t it hysterical? OK, you’re drafted. You are now officially my new water cooler buddies. I’m so happy that we can be that kind of friends.
That’s what she said!
Leslie is clearly desperate for some office humor. If you’ve got any to spare, email Leslie@LeslieDinaberg.com. That’s what she said!
Originally published in the Santa Barbara Daily Sound on June 30, 2006.