There's absolutely no way to Google this.
July 1, 2009 11:12 AM   Subscribe

Looking for a story someone wrote about "falling through the cracks" while working at a large company. I think what happened is he was to be reassigned to a new team, but the assignment never actually happened; he just kept showing up to work, kept getting paid, and got into all sorts of stuff trying to stay under the radar.

It was posted on the SomethingAwful forums a few years ago, but I don't know if it was originally posted there or not. Can you help me find it?
posted by downing street memo to Grab Bag (15 answers total) 45 users marked this as a favorite
Could it be the Graphing Calculator story about Apple?
posted by fishmasta at 11:21 AM on July 1, 2009 [8 favorites]

Response by poster: It's not that, although that's an incredible one too - thanks for reminding me of it!
posted by downing street memo at 11:29 AM on July 1, 2009

Was it "My Fake Job" by Rodney Rothman? I've got it in The Best American Non-Required Reading 2002 anthology, but it says that it first appeared in the New Yorker.

This one involves an internet startup company, if that helps.
posted by corey flood at 11:46 AM on July 1, 2009

Response by poster: No, if I recall right, it was written by an SA forums member (i.e. it actually happened to him), and the timeframe was a lot longer than 17 days - more like a year or two. But since there seem to be a number of these things floating around, I love to hear about's a nice little bit of escapism.
posted by downing street memo at 11:50 AM on July 1, 2009

That sounds like one of the subplots from Office Space - the character "Milton" was actually made redundant several years before, and the two efficiency consultants hired by the firm find out about it only now. Their advice: not to confront him about that, instead just cancel his payday checks. Throughout the course of the movie he is then transferred to less and less desirable cubicles, ending up in a dark cellar room.
posted by PontifexPrimus at 12:05 PM on July 1, 2009

I think I read that story in the New Yorker.

Similar ideas have been plotlines on Seinfeld. One was where George was trying to avoid seeing his boss at all, because he couldn't be fired if he could not be caught in the same room with him. Another had something to do with him showing up to work, and working, without being an actual employee.
posted by Miko at 1:01 PM on July 1, 2009

Sounds a bit like the plot Herman Melville's short story Bartleby, the Scrivener. The movie Bartleby was based on the story, starring the perfectly creepy Crispin Glover.
posted by platinum at 2:04 PM on July 1, 2009

Best answer: I'm almost certain I remember the story you're describing and that I saw it on SA, but my archives access isn't working for some reason. What I remember is this (and it's very hazy, so the details are likely wrong):

The guy got hired as a "safety inspector" or "safety officer" or something like that, but he was given a numerical job code that didn't put him in any department or under any direct superior. I think this was because they used a placeholder code like 000 for pending hires but forgot to replace it with a real code after his start date.

He kept going into work because he didn't know what else to do, and even posted some safety signs and installed a non-slip mat or something, which he referred to as his proudest moment at the job. Of course no one really noticed or told him what to do afterward. All this time the company was sending him regular paycheques.

Eventually his conscience got the better of him and he checked the company database for anyone with the same job code as his. He found one person listed at a corporate branch in another city and called him. The punchline is that the guy he called seemed really frightened and paranoid at being questioned about his job and then finally confessed that he'd been doing the same thing as the author for years: coming into work, doing nothing, and cashing a paycheque, not doing anything about it for fear of being asked why he didn't come forward sooner.

Is this the story you mean?
posted by hayvac at 5:50 PM on July 1, 2009

Kramer did the same thing in an episode of Seinfeld
posted by rux at 7:51 PM on July 1, 2009

Response by poster: Hayvac - that's definitely it. I'll dig through the archives to see if I can find.
posted by downing street memo at 8:19 PM on July 1, 2009

If you find that, downingstreet, please post the link. Sounds like some fun.
posted by Goofyy at 2:18 AM on July 2, 2009

When the search comes back up, it was apparently called "The American Dream" posted by a user called Moonshine.
posted by cmonkey at 8:30 AM on July 2, 2009

Best answer: ... and here you are (.rtf copy of the "American Dream" thread posted later in that "SA Lost and Found" thread)
posted by cmonkey at 8:36 AM on July 2, 2009 [7 favorites]

Response by poster: Holy crap, thank you so much. This is an absolute must-read.
posted by downing street memo at 9:12 AM on July 2, 2009

Best answer: I pasted the American Dream document into into a quick Google Site, so it's easier to link to.
posted by icheyne at 5:25 AM on July 4, 2009 [3 favorites]

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