There are certain things you don’t just “get” in the professional world, mundane though they may be. No, no, you must work towards these things; you have to earn them. (Or, if you’re attractive/intelligent/funny/shameless enough, you can schmooze your way into these things early, but that’s a particular skill, and one that cannot be taught.) What are some of these coveted objects, craved by the masses of white-collar workers but enjoyed by only the few?
- Desk chairs with proper lumbar support. The progression of desk chairs in the corporate environment is a dreadful, mysterious thing. Yes, that office has been vacant for eight months, but NO: you may not take the chair. It is for executive bottoms and backs, and yours, my dear, are the bottom and back of a minion. Get back to your Ikea seat. (This literally happened outside my office door yesterday. A non-executive tried to co-opt an executive chair from an empty office and was roundly chastised. A meek executive came by twenty minutes later and wheeled the chair away, explaining, “I was told to come take this chair.” So odd…)
- Real desks.
- Ergonomic keyboards (the avoidance of carpal tunnel syndrome belonging properly to those who have already had it for years, apparently).
- The ability to stand wherever you want for bi-monthly full company meetings. (Out of sight in the corner is a good option, but only if you’re not too blatantly “out of sight,” which makes you look like you’d rather be somewhere else, or as if you have something to hide.)
- The right to have an actual opinion when your superiors ask, “What do you think?” (I once made the mistake of actually having an opinion in that circumstance. “What do you think?” I was asked. I proceeded to answer, and got cut off halfway through my response. The person who had just requested my opinion now snapped, “I don’t give a damn what you think.” I had to admire the honesty of that assessment, but it definitely opened my eyes to The Way the World Works.)
- The right to find out information pertinent to your job without having to resort to eavesdropping on every conversation that occurs within earshot of your office door.
I often have to chuckle at the way democracy will never find its way into the corporate world. Everybody’s equal, of course, but as they say on the farm, “Some [people] are more equal than others.” (And in all seriousness, would it really work any other way? I’m honestly not sure.)