Funny things I can use to keep chill during blizzard of office politics
August 17, 2016 7:20 PM   Subscribe

What mantras or other sources of humour can I use during a period of office turmoil to help me keep in a good frame of mind and handle ridiculous and unfair goings-on as gracefully as possible? Preferably things that are funny and/or absurd?

My govt dept has been forcibly merged with two others and a formerly great situation is declining rapidly. It's something like a cross between Lord of the Flies and Office Space - but with lots of ego and elected officials. It will be like this for an extended, undefined period of time. Some of it's dumb stuff (when we call in sick we now have a half-hour timeframe in which to call - and a long list of other rules and stipulations) some of it's not and the union's involved. I need some funny things I can use to in the moment to help me chuckle and let go rather than get mad.

Please assume I am rallying my troops back home, I'm meditating, I'm reading Pema Chodron, have a therapist, am utilising our employee assistance program for career counselling, I have a nice long vacation coming up in a few weeks, etc. My goal is to last another 6mo or so until I qualify for sabbatical time (which will be paid out when I leave) and/or (hopefully!) offered voluntary redundancy. I just need some things I can repeat to myself in the moment to keep things in perspective. My husband had me watching clips from Office Space last night and it really helped - absurd is good. The Office is less effective (too close to home, too subtle). Trailer Park Boys is good, but I am going to stop watching because while I love Ricky, he is a terrible influence and I can't say "ref*ckulate" at work (although that captures my sentiment exactly). (And yes, if things get really bad I'll pull the plug sooner.)
posted by jrobin276 to Work & Money (17 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Have you read Catch-22?
posted by scratch at 7:30 PM on August 17, 2016

"Not my circus, not my monkeys" is often helpful to me.
posted by lazuli at 7:31 PM on August 17, 2016 [19 favorites]

Like a train wreck, can't look away
posted by JujuB at 7:52 PM on August 17, 2016

I had a similarly wacky period at an old job and bonded with my workplace buddy by telling him about the "It just doesn't matter" scene from Meatballs. We shared that with another guy we later found out was similarly freaking out, and it worked so well that one day we all snuck into the other guy's office and joined hands and danced around his desk chanting 'IT JUST DOESN'T MATTER! IT JUST DOESN'T MATTER! IT JUST DOESN'T MATTER!"

It helped.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:53 PM on August 17, 2016 [6 favorites]

Parks and Recreation sums up all the weirdness of government employment so well. You should watch it and learn from Ron Swanson.
posted by notjustthefish at 7:56 PM on August 17, 2016 [10 favorites]

2nding Parks and Rec
posted by bookworm4125 at 8:02 PM on August 17, 2016

None of it matters and we'll all be dead soon? That's my motto.
posted by bongo_x at 8:07 PM on August 17, 2016

Nthing Parks and Rec, for sure. Also, if you like how Office Space does things, you might want to give Silicon Valley a shot. Different era and industry, but similar level of slyness.

Some episodes of The Office US are more absurd than subtle -- "The Injury" comes immediately to mind. The first five minutes of "The Carpet" still kill me.

Arrested Development isn't a workplace comedy per se, but there have been times in my life when I've thought "This is probably better than working for The Bluth Company."
posted by gnomeloaf at 8:42 PM on August 17, 2016 [4 favorites]

"This too shall pass" is my mantra for situations like this.
posted by AugustWest at 9:04 PM on August 17, 2016 [2 favorites]

Catch-22 for sure. Especially the crabapples discussion between Yossarian and Orr in chapter 3. Gets me every time.
posted by Doleful Creature at 11:42 PM on August 17, 2016

Last year I watched Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and there is a scene where she shares the coping strategy she developed when she was held hostage by a doomsday cult "prophet"--you can stand anything for 10 seconds.

It's not a completely unproblematic show, but I did find it funny and I appreciated that it depicted Kimmy as a real human being coping with tough situations the best way she knows how.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 12:03 AM on August 18, 2016 [1 favorite]

Not sure if you're just wanting office-related content or not, but here's a mix of stuff.
posted by iamfantastikate at 1:04 AM on August 18, 2016 [1 favorite]

How do you feel about the British version of "The Office?" I find Ricky Gervais' David Brent is a brilliantly obtuse and insulting character; not as well-meaning or kind as Michael Scott. The British version is much meaner and a few co-workers, Gareth in particular, are really terrible.

More idiots in an office can be found in the Australian comedy, The Games, which you can get on YouTube. It's a hilarious fake documentary of the THREE people putting on the Sydney Olympics. If you want to see a workplace chock full of people who don't know what they're doing with only a few rational adults in the room, you will LOVE The Games.

"Not my circus, not my monkeys." Sometimes when my co-workers are being annoying, I play a little game to see how long I can stay out of the entire thing and watch the drama implode whilst on the sidelines and the end result is nothing ever changes. I get a bit of a laugh over all the energy expending on something that does not and never will matter and pat myself on the back for avoiding all of it while reading Metafilter at work instead.
posted by yes I said yes I will Yes at 3:43 AM on August 18, 2016 [2 favorites]

I'd work on a script for a docu-drama about it.
posted by srboisvert at 6:38 AM on August 18, 2016 [1 favorite]

I also just remembered watching the BBC show W1A (it's on Netflix here in Canada, maybe for you as well) and laughing till my stomach hurt. Oh haven't we all been in meetings like that if we work in the public sector....
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 10:35 AM on August 18, 2016

When I had crazy times in a government office, I enjoyed the absurdist satirical humor of Better Off Ted.
posted by gudrun at 11:36 AM on August 18, 2016 [1 favorite]

The Rook is a funny (and violent) book about working at a (supernatural) government ministry. You can be glad you're not there.
posted by The corpse in the library at 7:03 PM on August 22, 2016

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