Dilbert and The Donald

Let’s talk about my days as Donald Trump’s apprentice. I was about 13 years old and hanging out with a friend whose dad owned a local business, and at this time my friend was very focused on being a “business man.” This is a kid who, when we stopped at the store before church camp to buy snacks, bought a copy of Money Magazine. One of the books he was reading at this time was Donald Trump’s autobiography “The Art of the Deal.” I started reading it one day when I was over at his house and was immediately hooked. Everything about the book sucked me in and I knew right then I wanted to be a “business man” too. Of course, as the years went on and I realized business was not my thing that faded, but I’m still fascinated with Donald Trump and “The Apprentice” is one of the only reality shows I will admit to watching (Extreme Makeover Home Edition doesn’t count as a reality show, right?).

Many years later I still have a love-hate relationship with the office environment. I’ve spent a few hitches in cubicled environments and while I can’t fathom spending 40 hours a week for the rest of my life in that environment, I do get a weird joy out of the whole culture of it. What’s funny is, this environment goes beyond just the typical “Dilbert” engineering, non-specific, global corporation. I’ve worked at a major publishing house and a newspaper and they both resembled engineering firms more than the creative bull pens I always imagined. The Dilbert Syndrome has even spread to police departments. While most metropolitan police departments still have grimy bull pen detective squads, suburban departments are mostly cubicles and even the mighty LAPD looks like Morgan Stanley. The only place I’ve seen the kind of business environment I could see myself in is academia. From lowly community colleges and small universities to large, prestigious, research institutes, there is nary a faculty office that resembles a traditional office. They still have books piled floor to ceiling, papers scattered haphazardly across the desk, and there is the unmistakable stench of genius.

Academia is the only place I’ve ever been happy and, whether as a student, faculty member, or wealthy alumni donor, that’s where my soul will always be.

9 thoughts on “Dilbert and The Donald

  1. I sort of expected I might be an academia person, but I kind of burned out. Not just Senioritis, but I questioned how I’d feel if I was a middle aged prof surrounded by kids. (Even at twenty the froshlings just looked so damn young.) And worse, kids having the same discussions on a four year cycle. I decided I’d go nuts. So as demoralizing as I can find my day job (where I do in fact have a cubicle), the thing I like about the corporate culture is the “screw this” option. When academia clicks, I’m sure it’s wonderful. But if it doesn’t click, or only clicks on twenty days out of the year…that somehow seems more frightening than the corporate environment not clicking. Lower expectations, I guess, and it’s cyclical in a different way. The thing I really dispise is the pecking order thing, and that just happens any time you get a group of humans together. (Not so much with geeks or Creative People™, but there aren’t many jobs where you only have to deal with them.)

  2. But there are so many different ways to be in academia. I’d personally never want to go the teaching route. But I love being in a research environment. I also only have contact with grad students. I might not feel the same way if I was dealing with undergrads. That exta bit of age really makes a difference in most cases. Of course on the research end of things its easy to burn out from the constant search for funding. The endless cycle of proposal writing. Fortunately I haven’t had to deal with that since I work on a fairly large, stably funded project. Otherwise the stress of not knowing where my funding was coming from one year to the next might be too much.

  3. No one’s going to comment on the Extreme Makeover Home Edition line… NO ONE? Wow, we’re all slipping… Sometimes I think Bryon puts these words in there on purpose just to get us to comment on his blog…

  4. What’s the collective noun for students? A thicket, I think it was ;}#And as for the office environment, you should try your hand at agricultural consultancy – gives a whole new meaning to the concept of working in a cubicle.I haven’t come across Extreme Makeover Home Edition but if it’s anything like our (sadly cancelled) Changing Rooms, then it’s more of a bloodsport than a reality show. What, you didn’t want your living room remodelled to look like a seventies brothel?

  5. Oh don’t worry – I shall comment on Extreme Makeover Home Edition, or as I like to call it “the crying show”. there is no way you can tune into that show, especially at the “reveal”, and not BAWL your eyes out. So Bryon my dear – I don’t even think I need to connect the dots here, to know what’s going on when you tune in to EMHE on Sunday evenings…-Christin

  6. Good god, man! The teeth! The many teeth! She looks like she’s just finished pulling a wildebeest to shreds with them.

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