5 Movies That Show The Harsh Realities Of Office Life

There is no doubt that there are many benefits to working in an office. The free coffee, reasonable hours and a small piece of real estate that you can personalize and call your own from 9am to 5pm serve as the incentive for most people in middle class society to pursue these positions. With the human resource department constantly enforcing a politically correct workplace, your daily interaction with colleagues is typically more pleasant than being a line chef or part of a construction crew; or at least it is at first.

After a while you start to realize that these pleasantries only represent the outer layer of a more complex, hostile, and manipulative environment. You will rarely have a face to face confrontation with your coworkers because peer aggression comes in the form of backhanded comments, rumors, and your productivity being sabotaged.

It is only a matter of time before you trust no one and find security through isolation and solitude. If high school and college represent the minor league for social engineering, then working in an office should be seen as going pro. These are the five movies that shine a light on the dark realities of what would otherwise serve as a desirable day job.

5. Office Space

office space
20th Century Fox

Predictable headaches like the constantly malfunctioning copier, the women who tells the same terrible joke every Monday, or the frat boy of the office that refuses to grow up will eventually test an office workers ability to filter rage. But it’s generally the harmlessness of these occurrences that allow you to talk yourself off a ledge. There is no direct intent for annoyance; it just seems to be the byproduct of cheap technology and socially inept human beings.

But this bottled rage never has the opportunity to get released during work hours. Which might lead you to do irrational things such as driving said malfunctioning copier to a secluded field to stomp the life out of it much like a mob hit in the 1920’s. Although it doesn’t seem like it, periodic destruction of relatively low value office equipment is a much better alternative to letting internal tension build to the point where it is released in a more catastrophic action; such as irreversible computer fraud or arson.

Please beware that suppressing emotion, putting on a smile, and dealing with passive aggressiveness on a daily basis is the weight you bare as a desk jockey. Side effects may include taking up hobbies such as alcoholism or tailoring suits out of human skin.

 4. Fight Club

Fight Club
20th Century Fox

Abandon any sense of self worth when handing in your resume to apply for position in a cubicle. You will only ever be seen as a vessel for productivity. In your spare time you could be a theoretical physicist, an accomplished artist, the profit for enlightenment, or in this case; the leader of a movement fueled by anarchy, disruption, and violence.

Even when you’re a schizophrenic underground fighter with a disturbing outlook towards the progression of society, you still have to submit your expense reports and keep your personal promotional flyers off the copier. Regardless of how suggestively violent your hobbies may be, senior management still won’t see you as a threat until you either outperform them or physically demonstrate your mental instability.

In the office you are only as valuable as the color pallet you use in Power Point presentations. You can successfully obliterate all personal debt and create a country wide system of terror cells in your free time, but professionally you will still be considered insignificant until you make a notable impact; this includes voluntarily throwing yourself into office furniture for blackmail.

3. Up In The Air

Up in the air
Paramount Pictures

Whether you’re with a company for two years or twenty years, you’re still just a number. Having the respect of management, extensive knowledge of the industry, and great work ethic all become meaningless when your salary is affecting the bottom line.

As an office worker, you are the most liquid asset for improving cost savings. Years of experience in one company can lead to an employee having an inflated salary when compared to their workload. So when a company is underperforming, these veterans and their large salaries serve as low hanging fruit for instantly reducing costs and expanding margins.

If this news isn’t depressing enough already, imagine that when you are getting canned after years of dedicated service and solid performance that your boss doesn’t even have the courage to look you in the eyes as he or she is shoving you in the gutter. Perhaps from the viewpoint of self-preservation your boss is a genius. Realistically how many people could he or she actually fire before someone loses all composure, climbs over the desk, and starts clawing at their face like a zombie infected with rage?

Maybe it is better to leave the unpleasant act of firing half the workforce up to the professionals.

2. The Company Men

The company men
The Weinstein Company

The only problem with having a position that is dependent on your personality as much as your experience is when you get fired. Illustrating your personality on a resume never really works out and there are thousands of other applicants with similar job experience.  So how do you separate yourself from the other business, finance, and economics professionals? It seems like the answer is to continue to play golf at a country club you can’t afford to create the illusion that you’re successful, or throw rocks at your old office building; but that’s not necessarily the team development spirit employers are looking for.

Apparently living at a certain pay scale and routine for so long poisons your ability to use simple logic; yet another side effect of office life. Taking an available yet lower paying position is seen as failure. Some can argue that the higher salary is needed to maintain survival; but are a luxury car and home really considered a necessity?

It’s odd that some white collared workers will look for reinvention before defeat. How is it that laying sheetrock and working construction, a skill most middle-aged office workers don’t have, seems like a better plan than just taking an office job where you have slightly less powerful title than your last? The lesson here is that long term success in an office can create personality issues where perception and ego outweigh long-term planning and adaptation.

1. He Was A Quiet Man

He was a quiet man
Bleiberg Entertainment

When all the preceding elements of an office mix with a small amount of irrational thinking, the results can be deadly. Years of dealing with the bottled up emotion, passive aggressiveness, disregard for personal accomplishments, being seen as an entry on a balance sheet, and witnessing incompetent coworkers achieve great success for all the wrong reasons, will turn a normally harmless human being into a ticking time bomb.

Even if you have developed a Zen-like focus for tolerating the nonsense that goes on around you, that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re coworkers have done the same. Other professions have onsite hazards such as machinery that can cut, grind, or crush limbs without hesitation; but that machine can’t think, aim, or have malicious intent.

A mentally unstable coworker with an unrelenting desire to leave their mark on the workplace with bullets and carnage is the risk you accept when taking a position for the free coffee, reasonable hours, and small personal space you always wanted. And with human resources forcing everyone to smile and act pleasant all the time, there will never be any warning signs telling you who it will be and when it will happen.

Free coffee and a three walled workspace don’t seem like great perks all of a sudden, do they?

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