I am so happy that new episodes of The Office are back. I sat down to watch on Thursday night even though my other favorite shows are piling up on the old Tivo (sorry, America’s Toughest Jobs, I’ve been busy but I still love you).
It was a great episode. Unlike some fans, I’m not obsessed with the Jim/Pam romance thing (even though I think John Krasinski and Jenna Fischer are awesome). The highlights for me were 1) the humble return of Temp Ryan and his subsequent groveling to Kelly and her tapeworm; 2) another glimpse of Dwight with his rumpled, half-dressed, post-workplace-nookie glow; and 3) an update on my man Toby and his sad escape attempt from Corporate America. It was so nice to have them all back.
The warm, fuzzy feelings got me thinking that Dunder Mifflin Scranton might not be such a terrible place to work. Yes, the boss is totally incompetent and inappropriate and discriminates on the basis of race, gender, sexual orientation, and irrational dislike. Yes, employees spend their working lives devoted to the manufacture and sale of office paper. But a career at Dunder Mifflin can have its advantages too:
1) Flex-time — At Dunder Mifflin, it’s no problem to take time away from the office to maintain that elusive work/life balance. Pam is apparently on a sabbatical to study design in New York. Jim takes very long lunches for romantic rendezvous. Dwight and Angela take frequent bomp-chicka-wow-wow breaks in the supply room. Phyllis took time out of her work day for a long workout (even if it wasn’t intentional).
2) Every employee is special — The Dunder Mifflin party planning committee makes sure that every employee’s birthday is celebrated with cake (or fruit if they’re too fat) and conference room camaraderie. When an employee is feeling sad and weak from hunger, she is encouraged to stand on a chair and hear positive commentary about her butt and wardrobe choices. And if an HR rep believes than an employee is a little bit extra “special,” she will go out of her way to support him.
3) You get to live in Scranton — What could be better than living in close proximity to both the Anthracite Museum (with its awesome ride) and the Steamtown Mall? Here I must reveal that I have spent a lot of time in Scranton, PA over the course of my life. I grew up in a town that is approximately an hour away from Scranton and so small that we had to drive to Scranton for such cosmopolitan fun as shopping at a mall or getting served at a “club.” I still have fond Scranton memories of drinking underage and shopping at Claire’s Boutique.
4) It’s better than a Costa Rican hospital — Poor Toby. He summoned up the courage to quit his job and move to Costa Rica and ended up trapped in a full-body cast. Let his experience be a cautionary tale for all of us. When escaping from Corporate America, always remember safety first!