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.