The Cameron Column #49
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      As if workplaces weren't stressful enough, corporations recently have begun to hire "Office Moms" to come in and, presumably, remind employees that they should have been a doctor or gone into the shoe business with Uncle Al.

      I am picturing my own mother in the role of Office Mom, and I have to confess I think it would be enough to cause all of the Fortune 500 to surrender to the Japanese. This is a woman who sends me e-mail and then calls me moments later to ask, "did you get my e-mail yet?" (The last time she did this I opened my e-mail to read, "did you get this?")

      Now, there is a lot about American business that I don't understand, though I still insist my idea for a pocket microwave oven would have made a million dollars if I could only have found an investor. But I have to wonder, why stop at an Office Mom? Why not give America a whole virtual family to help it handle the pressures of the 90's?

      You probably aren't wondering what duties these Office Others would have, but here they are anyway.

Office Wife:
     Stops in every once in awhile to remind you to fix the screen door or that you promised to mow the lawn today. Helpfully points our your faults whenever you forget them. Does not recognize beer as a food group.

Office Husband:
     Sits on the couch in your office with the television remote extended at full arm's length. Can't remember what he did with his list of chores for today (see "Office Wife" for the source of the list.) Continuously presses the channel changer on the remote unless he comes across (a) a sports event of any kind, including Iranian Bowling, or (b) Baywatch.

Office Brother-In-Law:
     Still trying to "find himself," and apparently thinks he'll be successful if he spends most of his time looking in the hammock in your backyard. Your largest single unsecured debtor. Periodically comes in to tell you that you are letting your employer take advantage of you, that if you were smart (presumably, smart like your Brother-In-Law) you "wouldn't put up with such crap." Then he pulls a beer from your refrigerator and leaves. Your Office Mom follows his visits with one of her own, asking why you can't find the Office Brother-In-Law a job. "Because he won't WORK! You have to WORK to have a job. There are NO JOBS where you don't WORK!" you respond with strident calmness. Everyone feels you are too hard on the office Brother-In-Law. "He really loves you," the Office Mom advises you in a bid to boost your morale. You do not want to be loved by the Office Brother-In-Law.

Office Teenage Daughter:
     Enters your office without warning and demands money. Wears half length shorts which appear appropriate only for institutions with Girls! Girls! Girls! flashing in neon on the outside. Shadowed by a lanky male youth who shakes your hand sullenly and twirls his earring when you insist on an introduction. He looks like the Office Serial Killer. He touches your Office Teenage Daughter's rump with his hand every once in awhile and you want to feed him to the Office Paper Shredder. The Office Teenage Daughter is particularly well suited to the night shift, since she cannot seem to grasp the concept of "curfew." You have been instructing her lately on the concept of "convent."

Office Sister:
     The Office Sister provides a contrast to your own life by being a Ph.D. or the junior Senator from the state of New Hampshire. Her house is spotless and her children are both honor students and clothing models. The Office Mom mentions the Office Sister with every breath, often recounting the Office Sister's accomplishments (starting with winning the spelling bee in fourth grade) in case you are planning to write an Office Biography.
      Of course, if corporate America is going to furnish this Office Family, it won't be long before most people will be demanding an Office Bartender.

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Copyright W. Bruce Cameron 1997
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