Congratulations! You have been randomly selected to complete a survey on Job Satisfaction. The following questions have been expertly crafted by a team of professionals and by “team of professionals,” I mean “one person who decided that creating a survey on Job Satisfaction would be a great use of valuable work time to avoid doing anything that resembles real work.”

Please read the following questions carefully then choose the answer that best relates to your current job situation.

1. How would you describe your overall productivity at work?

    a. Very productive 
    b. Somewhat productive 
    c. Just passing the time until the season premiere of “LOST”

2. Of the following, which describes your general state of mind at work?

    a. Busy but happy 
    b. Busy and stressed 
    c. One step away from strangling your co-workers with the printer cable

3. On Friday afternoons, you feel:

    a. Satisfied with what you accomplished during the week 
    b. Confident knowing you put forth 100% effort into each and every project 
    c. An overwhelming sense of dread knowing that, in 48 hours, you’ll return to the living hell that is your job

Let’s see how you did!

If you answered A to any of the questions, you lied. 
If you answered B, see A. 
If you answered C, you hate your job. 
Then again, if you even bothered to answer the questions at all, you hate your job so much that you’ll gladly do anything to pass the time even if it means answering a survey or watching the video on YouTube where a guy, who just mixed Mentos and Diet Coke, gets smashed in the jewels with a Nerf missile.

The good news, Job Hater, is that you are not alone. According to a study that I just made up, 90% of people hate their jobs. I’m sure there are many reasons for this, such as bad bosses, hostile work environment, a paycheck that’s worth only slightly more than the paper it’s printed on, and others. However, for today’s discussion, let’s just focus on one area: meetings.

Meetings are like the Willy Wonka factory of the work world—people go in, but they don’t come out. Unless of course you’re a little boy with half a dozen grandparents, who are all 150 years old, carrying God knows how many diseases, and sleeping together in a small dingy bed whose sheets haven’t been changed since, well, never. If that’s the case, you’ll escape the factory eventually, but not before a lunatic with crazed eyes and a bow tie, who earlier caught you stealing Fizzy Lifting Drinks, explodes into a blind rage that, medically speaking, scares the bejeezus out of you. All in all, the whole ordeal will seem most annoying and time consuming. Just like meetings!

I figure that on any given day, I spend about three hours in meetings. “But Rob,” you ask. “Surely these meetings are productive!” [NOTE: That loud crashing sound was me falling off the chair laughing. That, or you just popped a gasket, in which case you should seek immediate medical attention and also find out what a gasket is.]

Really, “meeting productivity” depends on your personal criteria. For me, if I do a little doodling and write down my grocery list, I’m happy. Others, like the people I work with, expect—no, DEMAND— more from their meetings. They march into each and every meeting striving to attain the ultimate in meeting productivity…The Follow-up Meeting! 

BOSS 1: Great meeting, Fred! 
BOSS 2: Did we decide on anything? 
BOSS 1. Not a thing. I better schedule a follow-up meeting. 
BOSS 2: I’ll bring the pastries!

Funny enough, we are not the first to suffer from pointless meetings. According to a leading paleonscientologist, this plight goes as far back as the days of King Tut where, in the Great Pyramid, detailed hieroglyphics depict a man with grey hair, a banjo, and a fake arrow through this head saying, “You want another meeting? Well, excuuuuuuse me!”

So you see, meetings have been around a long time. And as long as there’s been meetings, there’s been the Meeting Weasel. You know who I mean. The dweeb that always sits next to the boss (ensuring optimal butt kissing) and loves making long-winded comments that, in accordance with the Meeting Weasel Code, always come at the most inconvenient of times, namely just as you’re dozing off or right before lunch. You may also remember Meeting Weasel from his other appearances in your life, such as The Guy Sitting Next To You On The Plane Who Won’t Shut Up and The Guy In Your High School Class Who Reminds The Teacher To Collect Homework.

Now in writing this piece, it’s become clear to me that there are still many important meeting-related issues to address. These matters are integral, thought-provoking, and (according to nine out of 10 dentists) critical in the fight against plaque. Tell you what, why don’t we schedule a follow-up article to discuss?

You bring the pastries.

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ROB BLOOM is the Arts & Culture Editor at TNB. He's also a comedy writer, screenwriter, copywriter, somewhat decent juggler, pro wrestling historian, former Disney character, and, perhaps most impressively, a connoisseur of all things deli. He has written for the Cartoon Network, McSweeney's, Opium, CRACKED, Fresh Yarn, Monkey Bicycle, Funny Times, NPR, and the Travel Channel. Last year, Rob’s original screenplay was produced by the Upright Citizens Brigade and shown with the trailers in movie theaters across the country. Rob is also the writer of a regular humor column, which has been praised by the Erma Bombeck Writing Institute as well as his parents who proudly display it on their refrigerator with magnets shaped like fruit.

Rob grew up in the sunny Orlando ‘burbs but now lives in Philadelphia with his wife, newborn son, and Shih Tzu badass. You can contact Rob at [email protected]

27 responses to “Job (Dis)satisfaction”

  1. Mary Richert says:

    YES! OMG I hope people besides me actually intend to fill this out … oh, but wait… What if my boss Googles me and finds this? Hrm. Um… Anyway, gotta go. I have to find time for lunch before our weekly conference call.

    • Rob Bloom says:

      Hi Mary (if that is your real name),
      Let’s assume you used an alias to post that comment. You know, trying to protect your identity and all. That would make sense given that very mysterious photo of you beside the comment. And your boss is none the wiser! Wonderful!

  2. Anon says:

    I am employed by a software company that is currently mis-implementing the “Agile development methodology”. As part of this methodology, we were exhorted to abandon stodgy, process-based, dogmatic thinking and work in shorter, lightning-fast development cycles based on “stories” rather than software features and long-term releases.

    So, predictably, we have instead arranged endless meetings in which we dogmatically recite our mantra – this is what I did since yesterday’s meeting, this is what I will do today, these are my barriers. It’s like an AA meeting without the fun. I’ve taken to reciting what I’ve had for dinner last night (including a review of whatever wine or scotch accompanied the repast), my intent for lunch today (including, of course, a double espresso) and such barriers as “just feeling ooky”, “needing more espresso”, “the unforgiveable lack of an espresso machine in the office” and “horribly inappropriate thoughts about Keira Knightley, especially in those boots from ‘Pirates’ – don’t tell my wife”.

    Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m about to attend – I kid you not – the “pre-planning meeting”, in which we will discuss what *will be* discussed in the “planning meeting” next week. This follows on the heels of this morning’s Town Hall meeting, which was followed by two fifteen-minute “morning stand up” meetings (not as dirty as that sounds, unfortunately, though not for my lack of trying). I’ll be thinking of this posting at my three o’clock “one-on-one” meeting with my manager.

    Good Christ….

    • Rob Bloom says:

      Your 3 PM “one-on-one” meeting sounds agonizing…and I don’t even know your boss. Please come back later today to post a comment about that meeting and let us know:

      a) the percentage of time you were paying attention to what your boss was saying.
      b) what you were thinking about the rest of the time.

      • Anon says:

        I shall, although this is almost always my least painful meeting. My boss is well aware of my contempt for this nonsense and works with my “handicap”. I’ll usually start with the question, “Are you going to tell me anything I would actually care about?” and she’s savvy enough to answer me honestly. If the answer is no, I simply ask her to tell me what needs doing and/or write up whatever I’m supposed to be agreeing to and I’ll sign it (both of us knowing full well that I’ll still likely end up doing whatever I think is best anyway). Then we talk about our dogs, trade catty stories about coworkers and… um… then I start drifting off, thinking about Keira Knightley again, mostly. Eventually, she (my boss, not KK) gets up and leaves, which I take as a cue to return to my office and start surfing the web again.

        If it deviates from this paradigm, I’ll let you know upon my return.

        • Rob Bloom says:

          I know I speak for the entire TNB community when I say how intrigued we are by your 3 PM meeting and how we will anxiously await your post-meeting report. Good luck and happy drifting off.

        • Anon says:

          You lie, sir, but you do so with style and grace. Thank you for your well-wishing and please feel free to add me to any future invented statistics.

  3. It’s been clear to all involved for a long, long time that I hate my job. Thinking about this during the meeting i’m about to go into should help.

    • Rob Bloom says:

      That’s the attitude! Admitting that you have a problem (“Hello, my name is AnnMarie and I hate my job”) is the first step.

  4. Zara Potts says:

    Oh meetings. They are the worst.
    But what I really hate is the ‘newspeak’ terms that are so beloved of marketers everywhere. In our meetings we spoke of ‘strategic thrusting’ and ‘deep diving’ so often that I would wonder if I had accidentally fallen into a porn industry meeting.
    My favourite term however, was when we had to go on a ‘strategic advance’ because a ‘retreat’ was too negative.

    • Rob Bloom says:

      Retreat was too negative? That’s so ridiculous it’s hilarious. Sometimes work really is just like a Dilbert cartoon. Only longer and less funny.

  5. Angela Tung says:

    Rob, your piece made me laugh AND gave me flashbacks (how many essays can do that?). People at my company loved meetings, and bragged/complained about having “back to backs all day.” One woman had no idea what to do with herself when she wasn’t in meetings.

    And the follow-up meeting – gah! An excuse for people to sit around and listen to themselves talk. But the worst was the time I had a meeting to prepare for a meeting in preparation of another meeting – and I’m sure there was a follow up meeting involved too. It was like business casual Russian dolls.

    • Rob Bloom says:

      Thanks, Angela. You’re so right about people sitting around listening to themselves talk. And, because this is just how these things go, they never have anything interesting to say. “Blah, blah, blah, meeting schmeeting, blah, blah, blah.” After a while, everyone sounds like the teacher in the Peanuts movies.

      Oh, your ‘business casual Russian dolls’ joke is awesome.

    • Don Mitchell says:

      What was that pseudo-calypso song from the fifties?

      back to back
      belly to belly
      don’t give a damn
      done that already

      Back to backs indeed.

  6. Amanda says:

    heh…last Thursday, after being caught mid-meeting, staring at my lap with what I like to call dead-face (pretty much a variation on “slack-jawed stupid” but with less expressive eyes), I was forced to admit that yes, I was composing my grocery list and needed someone to please repeat the question.

    • Rob Bloom says:

      You should’ve said: “oh, I’m sorry. I would’ve been paying attention but you’re just so damn boring.”

      I’m sure that would’ve gone over well. Don’t you think?

      • Amanda says:

        Darn. You are so right.

        But, I suppose I made up for that lost opportunity by later suggesting to my boss, “Maybe you just don’t remember what I said, because I am cute and polite and I have a nice smile, so you just don’t think you have to listen to me.”

        Yeahhhhh…wooo job security!

        • Rob Bloom says:

          Really, your boss should’ve known better than to interrupt your grocery list thoughts with a petty work-related request. It’s not like that grocery list to going to write itself, after all.

  7. A friend of mine and I used to work in similar locations, so we’d catch the bus in from where we lived together. We were talking once about how sweet it would be to just mentally shut down from 8 on Monday morning to 5 on Friday afternoon. And then we realised just how depressing our lives were, that we wanted something like that.

  8. I flunked. Shit.

    Great post as always.

  9. nerf gun says:

    nerf gun…

    […]Rob Bloom | Job (Dis)satisfaction | The Nervous Breakdown[…]…

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