As another weekend draws to an untimely end, 35 hours of soul destroying tedium circles through your conscious like a corporate feathered vulture. Sunday's television schedule does little to distract you from the thoughts of a job that you once donned your finest suit to secure, and here, in a moment of depressing clarity is the realisation that, "this is your life." Instead of a red book filled with your greatest feats and wittiest one-liners, the best that you can achieve is two pages of Arial 11 point detailing your employment history and one or two hobbies that you added in a desperate attempt to make it sound as though you were a true team player and not the mis-anthropic, work-hating malcontent that you actually are.

If this sounds familiar then fear not, you are not alone. The Daily Grindstone is here to help you through the perils of employment and give weight to your long held belief that, despite the hype, work just isn't that great. So... make another cup of tea (remember that a full kettle takes longer to boil and can add minutes to your break), get comfortable, and prepare to adjust the scales of the work-life balance a little more in your favour.

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Office Dwellers Part I: The Team Leader

In every office in every country, ghastly creatures lurk, waiting to ensnare naïve career debutants into their lair of Xerox machines and unfulfilled potential. As your travel along the lonely road to retirement it is inevitable that you will encounter one of these monstrous incubi. Awkwardly blending into normal society, if you are to survive a run in with an office dweller, you must first know how to recognise one. In the “Office Dweller” series of articles, I will attempt to highlight the distinguishing features of these wretched beasts.

The most common office dweller is the “Team Leader.” Favouring the dank and stuffy conditions of a customer service call centre, Team Leaders can be recognised by their rotund physique and grotesque visage. Reminiscent of a melting Dawn French, the team leader will lure you into a false sense of security by promising to have once been, “just like you.” Under no circumstances should you fall for this deception. They were never just like you, unless you too once longed to hold power over a group of disenchanted musicians and half baked students.

Despite looking like Stephen King’s interpretation of the hunchback of Notre Dame, the Team Leader will recount endless tales of their sexual prowess and unrivalled attractiveness. Like a hypnotic chant, these mantras aim to influence the inner thoughts of her underlings. Once they have begun to take seed, she will attempt to breed with the young and broadly attractive University graduate who has, as yet, failed to react to her advances. In a booze fuelled orgy of shame and regret, she will initiate the transformation process that will see a once hopeful teenager metamorphosise into a tassel-loafer wearing middle manager (more on this specimen soon).

Whilst she may look vaguely human, the Team Leader was raised by Lucifer and fed on the dreams of the living. The insatiable hunger for chewing up aspiration in her shark like jaw is what initially attracted her to a job abundant in young and idealistic workers. In charge of overseeing the task of picking up (and duly putting down) telephone receivers, the Team Leader gains a masochistic thrill from hearing her minions treat desperate and exhausted customers like the “faeces smeared worms that they are.” In this desperate and lifeless environment, do not expect to find an ally in your fellow employee. The power that comes from befriending the Team Leader will seduce your co-workers and prevent them from assisting the quest to retain your humanity.

So how do you beat the Team Leader? Surprisingly, the answer is extremely simple. The Team Leader is very sensitive to rejection, and by passing them a letter entitled, “My Resignation,” their power will ebb away until there is nothing left but a slightly obese and mildy obnoxious version of Dame Edna Everage. Whilst terrifying at first, there is actually very little to fear from this particular breed of Office Dweller.

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