Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Racing the Rat

You may notice that there is now the "Dilbert" cartoon on the website. This did not go according to plan. It's a 'widget' (I guess) that is supposed to have today's cartoon always available. I thought the widget was supposed to go on the side.... but it didn't. So eventually Dilbert will fall into the archive somewhere and be impossible to find. Guess that's what happens when you start racing rats.

I like Dilbert, because I never joined the rat race. I grew up in a household where for a long time the mantra was, "you have the choice to do anything, but you have to live with that choice". The first thing that came to mind for kids was, "we don't CHOOSE to go to school, we are forced." However you do choose to go to school, because the consequences for going in the front door then out the back, or just sleeping in and skipping school, are too harsh, and so of the choices, children choose to go to school.

When I graduated High School, I had many choices. I was accepted to go to MIT, or Montana State University. I chose MSU. I have never regretted that choice. When I started school I was in the Electrical Engineering major. After a year, I chose to switch to Theater Arts. Somewhere in there, I chose not to enter the Rat Race. I could graduate college with a degree in Electrical Engineering, make lots of money, maybe design a new computer system and be the next Bill Gates (I remember being very interested in the concept of stacking microprocessors.... similar to the "dual core" processors that have come out recently). I chose however to go into a field that I just loved doing. While engineering majors were up all night studying for their next big test, Theater majors were up all night actually doing what we were training to do.... produce plays. I never once thought of myself as the next Bill Pullman (maybe because he was, at the time, one of my teachers.) or even compared myself to George Lucas, I was just focusing lights and hoping that some day I could make a living doing it. (and for a very short time was)

When I got married, my wife was in the "Rat Race" already. I get a kick out of Dilbert's cubicles because I know all about them. When I met my wife, she was at a 'manager' level. You could tell because she had a cubicle with 84" high walls and a door. Below her were supervisors, you could tell they were supervisors because they had cubicles with 60" walls, and no doors. The supervised associates, the more important of which had 48" walls and 2 desks with 2 draw sets, the less important had 48" walls with 1 desk and one drawer. Eventually she moved up to a director level, and then a VP level and got offices with real walls, and once even had a window.

I found it interesting that you could tell how important the VP was by how many people they had to share their "administrative assistant" with. Some got their own, some didn't get any. Office furniture also made a major play as to the importance or a person. There is the associates chair, the supervisor's chair (which has arms), the manager's chair (which looks expensive but only cost $50), the VP's chair (which looks expensive and is) and then there is the executive VP's chair which was usually flown in from Italy at great expense. I have never seen a president's chair. I am sure they must have gold inlay on them though.

Now some people will read about this and chuckle. Some will nod their head in approval, and some will say, "huh, I always wondered how high the manager's cubicle is". All of us get a kick out of reading Dilbert however, it is the comic for those stuck in the Rat Race, and for those of us outside the Rat Race laughing at those stuck in the Rat Race.

Hopefully some day I will figure out how to place Dilbert on the side, where he is always available to those who wish to see his latest adventures.

And by the way, we are no longer part of the Rat Race. My wife has left the company, and is currently in a job she loves, making coffee for those seeking a better life racing rats.


V said...

Hey 3M I haven't laughed so hard in ages. And I haven't even looked at Dilbert yet!

"You Funny!" as someone we both love used to say.


Dene said...

Hi Miss Man,
I so enjoyed reading your 'Racing...' essay! Been there, done that, don't miss my cubicle or chair at all. Laughed at your descriptions of the hierarchy--so true!

Mississippi Mountainman said...

I am trying an experiment.... commenting