Office Place Strippers

February 02, 2007

Many years ago, I was fairly certain that Scott Adams had a secret camera in our offices, and used it to grab the easy pickings for Dilbert strips. Now, I've gotten to be fairly certain that he loaned the tapes to the group of people who write episodes of The Office for NBC.

I can recollect a lot of episodes that were plucked right from APPRO in the past few years: the annual review, having to do layoffs, outing the gay employee, and -- most like our own office -- having "funny awards" presentations.

Last night, the producers once again went to their pile of Baton Rouge videocassettes and landed on one where the boss brought a stripper to work.

Several years ago, I was working at my desk. I was backed up and annoyed with whatever I was doing, and I got a phone call from someone who could only want me to do something for her -- never the other way around. For some reason, I picked up the phone.

"We need you to come to a meeting to talk about how we could make the users' conference better for next year."

Our annual user conference had just ended, but I hadn't been down there at all on that particular year. "I can't contribute to that. I wasn't even down there."

"It doesn't matter. We just need you to come."


"It's right now."

"No, I'm really busy, I can't come right now."

"Look, we need you there right now."

For some reason I went.

Five minutes later, I found myself in a conference room in a different building. I had a pad of paper and was jotting down a couple of ideas about the conference based on feedback I had heard from others. Other people from all around the company came in and sat down. No one really had the look of someone who wanted to be there.

Ten minutes after the meeting was scheduled to start, the female VP of sales came in the room, shut the blinds, and dropped a large stack on singles on the table. At that time, I was firmly in the middle of bachelor party age, and I knew what was coming. But some piece of my brain still didn't comprehend.

The woman was dressed like a cop. Someone turned on a jam box, and she started doing her thing.

Rather than excited or juvenile, the mood was just uncomfortable. We didn't all really know each other very well, and we were just minutes away from dealing with our workplace irritants. No one had had a chance to relax. No one had been drinking.

It felt a little like a setup. Was there a secret camera for some cable comedy show? Was the boss going to walk in and fire us all? No one knew.

After a while, the woman was on the table in her g-string and pasties. There were some half-hearted tucking of dollars into her garter belt, and I'll admit that I pocketed a couple of those dollars for my own trouble that afternoon. It was every bit as uncomfortable as that episode of The Office last night.

When it was done, we laughed a little bit, split apart, and returned to our various buildings. Back to work, neither enlivened nor entertained.