At my first corporate gig I looked for a book that would help me cope and adjust to corporate life. I never did find one, but now after nearly six years I have figured it out on my own. These are my tips that make working for corporations a little bit more tolerable.
1. Put your back to your cubicle entrance and practice falling asleep with one hand on the keyboard and the other on the mouse. (Make sure you have a work-related document open on the screen.) This is easy to do if you have a chair that has a high back. There are two things to watch out for: (1) Your screensaver may activate while you nap, and (2) Your hand may smash some keys, making people who pass by you wonder why you have a screen full of G’s. When someone knocks on the frame of your cubicle entrance, waking you up, they will confuse your tired haze with deep and creative thought.
2. Assume you are doing a perfect job unless your boss gives regular feedback, which he probably doesn’t. When you are rated incompetent in several areas during your yearly performance review, go through the five stages of grief. They will admire the fact that you “care” and may not put you under a “performance management plan.” Bonus: Refuse to sign the evaluation right away, saying you are upset and need to think things through.
3. Do not get buddy-buddy with your boss. Rapport with you boss will just make it easier for him to ask special favors of you that do not translate into more pay. Stay distant: When he asks how your weekend was, repeat the same thing every week (”Oh I just sat around the house and watched TV”) until he stops asking. Instead, be nice to everyone but you boss. This way if he tries to fire you, everyone will chime in and say what a great person you are, weakening his power and making him appear delusional.
4. Be average. Do just enough work to not get fired but not so much work that they consider you for management. The responsibilities that come with management rarely makes it worth the often measly increase in pay. Plus if you are reading this right now you are not busy or important enough to be someone whose decisions will ever matter.
5. Always have one good idea in the bag if your slacking is being noticed by many people. Examples:
- Intranet wiki that never gets updated
- Employee suggestion box/committee
- Online bulletin board to post about lost keys
- A database of some sort
- A corporate blog
- Company-wide distribution of “Who Moved My Cheese” to improve morale
- A new system to streamline office supply ordering that involves laminated cards and an in-box.
- Quarterly newsletter with a section that features employee pets.
6. Contemplate killing yourself. Or, walk by the break room every 30 minutes to see if there is any leftover food, in the middle of yet another attempt to break your record of most number of times you can check your personal email in one day.
1. No matter how far down the wrong road you’ve traveled, always turn back.
People hate to lose time “invested” in a task they have miscalculated on. Time is the most scarce resource of life, yet its taken for granted by those who are too proud to admit they made a mistake.
Not too long ago, I chased a girl I shouldn’t have. The warning signs were there from the start, but I ignored them because I was seduced with the idea of sleeping with her. By date five, I went so far in the wrong direction that turning back seemed like the harder route to take. I couldn’t just let go of all the money, time, and emotional energy I put in. The easy decision is to coast and let the mistake ride out, but it’s always the wrong decision. You must cut your losses.
There is nothing wrong with making a mistake, but you make things worse by staying blind to your own error. Don’t bother trying to fix a situation you should have avoided in the first place.
2. Comfort is dangerous.
Unless you are of old age and already a scholar of the world, your main focus should be growth. If you are comfortable with what you are doing, there is a good chance you are not stretching yourself to the limits of your ability.
The director of my old department had a habit of putting up motivational quotes during his presentations. I had a favorite: “There is no growth in the comfort zone, and no comfort in the growth zone.” You get drawn into comfort and habit because it offers you stability and peace of mind, but at the same time this decreases your motivation to take risks and learn other things. Unless you are ready to die, choose growth.
3. You learn the most when things go wrong.
It’s hard to learn about yourself if everything goes right: there is no need for introspection or analysis. But when things go wrong, your body is put through stress and your mind is called up to perform. You are forced to break things down to come up with solutions, trying things you’ve never tried. This is the only time you really grow as a person.
In my field of work, Murphy’s Law is the rule. Things always go wrong, and for hours I can be staring at a graph or piece of equipment, dissecting the problem to its component parts only to put it back together again. But when things go right, my day is pretty uneventful; I’m a zombie that just goes through the motions. Solve problems, learn from them, and then put that experience in your toolbox when you encounter something similar in the future. Because you will.
4. Always stand up for yourself.
Don’t take bullshit from anyone, whether it be from your boss, lover, or friend. No one in this world is more important than you are.
I have been disrespected by flakey women countless times. I accepted the disrespect because I thought it was normal to take a little bit of abuse to get something I wanted. But I no longer believe that. If you have a belief that it is okay to be treated negatively, it’s just a matter of time until it happens — repeatedly. Don’t let people flake, rag on you, or put you down. These are things that are not normal, things that will only lower your mood. Don’t be a pushover, don’t be afraid to stand up for yourself, and don’t be afraid of confrontation.
5. Know when to move on.
After you’ve hit the point of diminishing return, the energy you put in is much less than what you get out, whether it be from jobs, relationships, friendships, or hobbies. Don’t wait until things get stale; by then you’ve waited too long.
I used to go to clubs and watch how bartenders worked. The more I watched them, the more I wanted to be one. I was convinced that I would make an excellent bartender. I took a week off from work to go to bartending school and eventually got a job at a popular hotel bar. The first couple months were incredible: I was meeting people, learning the trade, and having a good time. But the initial rush hid things that I did not like, such as incompetent management, cheap or rude customers, drama-loving coworkers, and odd hours. By month nine I decided that my experience was complete. I quit and regained my weekend leisure time. Things that you really wanted to do one month or one year ago may not be worth it for you today.
6. Respect your health and body by exercising and eating right.
There is no reason to treat yourself like a science experiment, wondering what will happen to your body after decades of neglect or abuse.
You only one have one life to live. Exercise and good nutrition are proven to prolong that life and make it more vibrant with less suffering. So what’s your excuse? It’s a poor bet to let your body atrophy because you wanted to sit on the couch and eat a bag of potato chips. The most unfortunate thing that could happen to you is to get a disease or sickness that could have been prevented by doing something your body would have very much appreciated.
7. Have a project.
Always be working towards a near-term goal. It’s nice to have one large purpose in life, but pick some smaller goals that you can accomplish is a few years or less: buying a house, learning a second language, running a marathon, eliminating credit card debt (through simpler living), traveling the world, etc. The project should be your passion… for a while.
In Venezuela I hiked up to some cabin so a Frenchman could take me on a horseback riding tour through the Andes mountains. He spoke good English so we had the opportunity to talk during breaks, where he told me his life story though his “projects”: short goals he would have that would usually lead to something else. The project that led him to the Venezuela was the desire to build a boat from scratch. When a hurricane washed ashore his boat was destroyed and he wound up in a strange city where he met his future wife. He asked me point-blank what my project was and I did not have an answer.
Instead of aimlessly floating through life, waiting until something happens to you, pick something interesting you like and drive towards it. Even if it doesn’t lead you anywhere, the journey is sure to teach you a bit about life.
8. Don’t nag, complain, or whine.
No one wants to hear it, and it makes you look like a miserable person. Negative energy is contagious; bad people and bad events always follow.
I had a colleague who did not hit the genetic lottery. She was short, stumpy, and unattractive. She did not hide the fact that she had trouble meeting men. While she could only do little to control her physical appearance, she could control how she acts around others. She could be lively, sexy, thoughtful, positive, funny. But she was not. She chose to be constantly negative, complaining about everything and talking about how bad life is. It was impossible to be around her, and I won’t be surprised if you tell me she has amassed a fine collection of cats by now.
Remember: your energy is tied into your future. If you are constantly negative, you are blocking yourself from enjoying positive things.
9. Be like water, flowing effortlessly through your environment.
A weak person is easily affected by the daily problems of life. Instead of fighting things that are sure to come up, adapt to them and solve them rationally. Things won’t always go your way.
“It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.” -
Welcome to the human condition. Like housing prices or stocks, there will be peaks and valleys in your life that you probably cannot control. Car breaks down. Job layoff. Disfiguring acne breakout. Crime victim. Broken heart. You could attempt to buffer yourself from these negative events, but it will limit your personal freedom and options in life. Instead, accept that there will be both good and bad; how you react to both determines your character and resilience as a person. You can panic like most people when confronted with a tough challenge, or you can sit down and visualize what it would be like to get out of the mess you are in. What’s the next step you should take? Time will go by, and the negative will soon be a distant memory.
10. Treat money as a means to an end.
Money should not be your final goal. There may be comfort in a pile of cash but there is little lasting happiness. Instead, treat money as a means to providing you with experiences that have meaning and pleasure.
There are two things you could do with your money: accumulate material possessions or pursue life experiences. Can you guess which one makes you more happy? If it’s so obvious, why do people dedicate a large chunk of their waking hours every week in jobs that have long ago satisfied basic needs such as food, shelter, clothing, and leisure? When you live in a country whose government is funded through debt and whose economic health is judged through “comsumer” spending, it’s not hard to see how one has to be deprogrammed from falling into the automatic habit of spending money on objects. That money is better spent finding things you love that give you fulfillment.
A million books and a million different perspectives. Until you can learn from first-hand experience, learn from the experience of others. Absorb their ideas and see how they fit into your view of the world.
One of the best uses of your time is spent reading non-fiction, which has the knowledge, information, and analysis that helps define the world we live in. Think of a bookstore or library as a collection of brains from all the scholars of the history of the world, who have taken the time to write and teach what they know. I can spend a lifetime traveling the world ten times over but not notice things that others have already written down.
12. Have no expectations.
When you enter situations with expectations, you limit your behavior and thinking. Having an idealized outcome in your mind beforehand closes yourself off to new experiences.
Once I met a girl who warned me several times that I wasn’t going to get anywhere. She assumed I wanted to be somewhere else other than the present, that what I was doing now was not what I really wanted to do. As long as you are getting the most out of the current moment - and enjoying it - what happens next should not be the dominant thought in your mind. We already see the world through a filter, and expecting things to happen in the future distorts that filter even more.
What did happen next with her was something totally different from what I’m used to, something that I would have closed myself off to if I had the usual in mind. Having expectations put you into a linear and rigid mode of thinking, blinding you towards different outcomes.
13. Be very picky when choosing friends.
It’s our friendships that create the spontaneous happiness in our lives, experienced most with people who match our personality. By spending time with the right people, we eliminate the drama that comes from more superficial friendships.
On any given night, there are only three guys I can call to go out with; guys who I trust and who I know I’m capable of having the most amount of fun with. For people who collect friends like trading cards, I wonder if they have taken a look at the hidden cost to maintaining those friends: misunderstandings, gossip, backstabbing, fights. These things are headaches and make life a little less enjoyable. Think of friendships as the foundation of your life, the constant that gets you through the long, stressful days. You don’t want that built on slimey ground.
It is not a good idea to experiment in critical situations. Practice when it doesn’t matter so that you are preapred for the real deal. If you can’t get real-world practice, at least run the situation in your head.
My plane departed Merida, Venezuela at 6:30 in the morning. I had to be at the airport an hour before, at a time where I wasn’t sure if I could easily get a taxi. Only 1.5 miles away, I figured a good back-up plan was to walk to the airport, but I wasn’t going to risk taking this walk without practice, especially since the streets are narrow and dangerous. The day before departure I took my time walking and found the safest route to the airport, memorizing key landmarks and noting potential danger spots. When it was time to leave, I couldn’t find a taxi and executed what I already rehearsed. My route was well-lighted and I got there in one piece without getting lost.
Instead of leaving things totally chance, do what you can to lessen the likelihood of failure, or even worse - disaster.
Seth Godin writes about whether or not it is time to quit your job:
If he leaves and joins another company, he gets to reinvent himself. No one in the new company will remember young Doug from 10 years ago. No, they’ll treat Doug as the new Doug, the Doug with endless upside and little past.
Let’s look at it from the perspective of evolution: Species that evolve the fastest are the ones that don’t mate for life. By switching mates, swapping genes with someone new, you continually reshuffle the gene pool, making it more likely you’ll create something new and neat and novel and useful.
You can read the whole thing here.
I thought about how this relates to women (of course) and was reminded of college. In my sophomore year I had a crush on a girl who only liked me as a friend. I accepted that and didn’t really push it, so we’d study together and she’d talk about guys she wanted to bang.
Four years later…
My game changed a lot. I was on the right path to figuring out how this dating thing works, and how to get what I want. Then my former crush invited me on a night out with her friends. As tight as I think my game had gotten, she simply could not accept that I changed, and tried to treat me like she did back in college. I refused to be pegged to this old version of me, so we got into a fight and haven’t talked since. Nothing would shake the strong impression of me she had in her mind, and I wasn’t willing to build a new relationship based on our old one. It’s so much easier to start anew than work on someone who already made up their mind. Less hassle, less work.
Almost everything in life can be whittled down into two categories. The first are “diversions” from being reminded of the mortality of life. Things like leisure, religion and hobbies fit here. The second deals with the “tension” created by the different jobs of the man and woman.
The job of the man is to have sex with as many women as possible until he breeds with a genetically superior woman. Many men fail this job. They are beta males, basement boys, nice guys, etc.
The job of the woman is to protect her hole for as long as possible until she is able to seduce a man with superior resources. Many women fail this job. They are whores, spinsters, cat ladies, etc.
In a free-market economy, these two jobs create a trillion dollar industry. Clubs/bars, expensive clothing, cars, diamonds, mansions, gourmet restaurants, cosmetics, anything luxury, plastic surgery, etc.
These things exist because men are trying to complete their job and woman are trying to complete theirs. Men buy the BMW to attract a notch, a wife. And a materialistic woman learns to desire expensive items because it forces her to find a resourceful man that can continue providing these items. And eventually, stability. For a woman, wouldn’t it be easier for her if she was well-trained in identifying money? This is why every woman knows how much your entire outfit costs.
A world of opportunity is created…
The male player takes advantage of the failure of both sexes to complete their jobs. He is in business because men are buying porn instead of taking social risk. He is getting nonstop notches because many women did not learn to protect their hole.
The female golddigger uses seduction and manipulation to hook a man who could get someone with better genetics. She uses emotions and human weakness to do her job, to supplant a more deserving woman.
The businessman sells a pop-psychology book or opens a dating consultant business to inspire success where only failure exists. The club owner builds an empire on creating a place that brings the two failed sexes together. You will not do poorly with a business that overestimates the desire of both sexes to achieve genetic success.
Until you die, this very dynamic will be one of the most principal forces in your life. Your relationships, you friendships, your appearance, your personality, and your desires are all tied into that very strong genetic component to do your job. Few of us will succeed. But most everyone will come close.
I’ve had my wisdom teeth in for years now and they’ve caused zero problems. So what they’re impacted. I don’t really understand the concept of going through surgery with its long recovery time and possible complications to address a problem that may never arrive. I figure this is a money-making scheme that starts at the top of the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons and trickles its way all the way down to the American Dental Association. But I succumbed. The nagging has gone on for three years, and I hate nagging. Plus I’m young with health insurance, and it does seem odd that I have teeth sticking out halfway through my gums. Besides, I’m sure teeth extraction technology has advanced from the days of metal tools and pliers. The doctor will vaporize my teeth with a friggin’ laser beam in a bloodless operation.
I decided beforehand to get local anesthesia only. I think it’s fine for women to go under because they are physically weak and can not handle pain. But no real man would go under to just get a couple teeth pulled. I also wanted to avoid the weird anal soreness side-effect of anaesthesia that happened to me last time I went under.
The first thing I noticed when I got in the operation room was the dental tray of metal tools and pliers. There was a 40 mL syringe of Novocaine, which by syringe standards is gigantic. (For a simple cavity, the syringe is no large than 5 mL.) The most painful part of the entire surgery was in the beginning when the doctor had to poke all over my mouth with this needle. Note: the roof of your mouth does not like getting stabbed with a sharp object. I anticipated the pliers to make an early appearance but was surprised when he pulled out a small metal stick instead. He put it against a wisdom tooth at top and just pushed down with moderate force. It came out within 30 seconds. “Wowww that wazzzz eeeeassy!” (Remember my mouth was completely numb.)
The next tooth was at the bottom. The same stick did not do the trick. He brought out a lot more metal sticks and used a bit more force. Then the drill came out. It was the biggest drill I’ve ever seen in my life. He would drill a little bit then attempt to use brute strength to get the tooth out. It still wasn’t coming out. He brought out the pliers for this one and I learned that teeth are pretty loud when they crack. Several times he braced against the chair and my body to get enough leverage to muscle the tooth out. I remember his arm was pressed against my forehead at one point, like he was trying to put me in a sleeper hold. All that force was going into one side of my jaw so I asked for a few breaks. During one break, the doctor looked frustrated and walked out the room.
He came back five minutes later and poked my mouth with some more Novocaine. “Oh no, he’s going to bust out with some experimental shit!” He would use a tool, slam it on his table, sigh, then stare at all his tools for a couple seconds to decide what to use next. I tried to pretend I couldn’t see the frustration in his face. He was mad at my tooth, and was tired of taking its shit. Who did the tooth think it was fucking with? Finally after about 15 minutes, before having to bring out the saw from storage, he got it out. I needed a break. I stood up and noticed my “Grandma Loves Me” bib was covered with blood.
He had a different strategy for each tooth. The last tooth got a lot of plier action: pulling, cracking, twisting. After about five minutes, I heard him say “Jeez!” as he pulled the final monster from my mouth. It was gigantic and ugly, like a turd left by a medium-sized animal. It was over. There is no fourth tooth because I’m a mutant.
Advice to those of you who still have your wisdom teeth: DON’T DO IT. And if it eventually does cause problems, only take out one at a time. You will be less likely to go through days of recovery, where the different stages of your facial appearance represents a species from the animal kingdom:
Day 1: Elephant man
Day 2: Chipmunk
Day 3: Hamster storing peanuts
Now excuse me while I go wash the blood spots from my pillowcases.
Something that gives me the sweats every time I think about it is accidentally getting pregnant.
I know several friends who have all been impregnated - “accidentally” although I have my doubts about a couple of them - one was married first, three weren’t married but are getting/got married, and the last two were in one of those situations where the father wants nothing to do with the mother or the child. Some of these women were drinking and using drugs up until a few days before they realized they might be pregnant; some had only been dating the father for a few months.
This makes me wonder. I mean, we all grew up in the same town and got abstinence-only sex ed, but come on. Who leaves things up to chance these days? “Oh, well, maybe I just won’t get pregnant!” Do you know how nature works?
The most interesting part of all this is that in many of these cases, the baby is forcing some unwanted changes on the couple. I mean, obviously there’s a time to grow up and stop acting like a kid, but getting married for the sake of a baby when neither of you has a job (or the guy doesn’t have a job and you’ll be paying for everything) doesn’t seem to make the most sense to me.
Birth control can get expensive if you don’t have insurance - and even if you do - thanks, insurance companies who cover the full cost of an ED drug! - but it’s certainly cheaper than having a child. Women shouldn’t have to rely on the man to provide the goods, but why so many women are sexing it up without a backup plan is beyond me.
Don’t think that I’m accusing these women of making a mistake. I’m not. I’m happy for most of them, if they’ll be happy having a child and getting married. And maybe there’s something wrong with me for shuddering at the thought of having kids. But I can’t even take care of a plant, I’m not even remotely interested in looking at baby things or seeing children’s movies (I call them “cartoons”), and I’ve never babysat a day in my life.
So call me old-fashioned, but I think when a woman gets knocked up and has to make major lifestyle changes that she may not be ready to make, that’s just as much her fault, if not more, than her partner’s. But maybe an accidental pregnancy is what some people need to make them grow up. Or maybe situations like these are what explain the incredibly irresponsible parents around these days.
There is no drink in the world as delicious as a Bloody Mary. I’ll even put a bloody ahead of Dr. Pepper, which runs a close second, followed third by a chocolate milk (Hershey’s syrup and 1% organic milk is best).
At present, I have no fewer than three distinct bloody mary mixes at my house, along with a bottle of Tito’s Handmade Vodka which is really the ideal mixer. Allow me to quantify my love of the bloody:
-I convinced my friends to have bloody marys with Thanksgiving dinner.
-Once, my then-boyfriend and I went to brunch with the intent of afterwards buying tennis rackets at Target and playing tennis. But we started drinking bloody marys, and couldn’t stop, and we neglected all of our errands.
-At least twice I’ve ordered a bloody at a decidedly non-bloody function and people have stopped to say, “oh, your signature drink!”
-I’ve lugged a shopping bag full of bloody fixins on the metro from Chouse to Cheights.
-I’ve had so many bloodys in one sitting that my poo-poo turned reddish color.
Any time a food-vending establishment claims to have “great bloody marys” I have to try them out for myself. I’ve had bloodys at a number of places around town but the best, by far, is Meze on 18th Street. I asked the bartender what kind of mix he used, and he refused to tell me, but then I just ordered another bloody and spied on him (it’s Major Peter’s [heh heh] bloody mix and Absolut Peppar. Dash of Worcester if you like, a bit of lime juice and salt the glass if you are so inclined but that silly Turk will give you hell about it if you ask him to do so). This bloody is particularly fresh and the color of real blood, which now that I think about it might be kind of a cool addition if you’re into that sort of thing.
There’s an all-you-can-drink bloody bar at Sign of the Whale for $9.99, but I do not recommend this unless you have all the time in the G.d. world as the waitress on the weekend afternoons is a crazy old coot who I swear was drunk on Sunday morning once. She is quite belligerent - even when she is not drunk - and takes forever to bring you your glasses of vodka so although it seems like a great deal you can be there for three hours and drink just three bloodys.
Another excellent bloody is to be found at Bourbon on 18th St, where the mix has a smoky, barbecuesque flavor. Additionally, the glass is salted with Old Bay mixed in - delicious.
The bloodies at Front Page, Rumba Cafe, and 4th Estate are fairly watery. I do not much enjoy them. Same goes for Pharmacy Bar, where there is some kind of bizarre whitish-colored chunks in the mix. It’s kind of like drinking vomit if you think about it too hard, and since the bloody is usually the only thing that can vanquish my hangovers, thinking about vomit is incongruous to hangover defeat.