I’m lucky. I have the ability to work from home and am in a hyper-specific field so I can be secure in employment (knock on wood). But you guys, I miss going into the office. I miss making coffee or running to Starbucks if I’m feeling decadent. I miss hearing about my coworker’s unruly stepchildren, or my desk neighbor’s dating life. I miss rolling our eyes at meetings that could have been emails, or cooing over cute things that patients said during exams. I miss suplexing toddlers who kick and hit and bite. I miss being frustrated with hyper specific preferences and poor communication that could be corrected by talking to someone face to face. I miss a secure internet connection and an actual network and not a VPN, and calling from a desk phone instead of cradling my iPhone in the crook of my neck. I miss my office.
Reading this was like cooking a steak in front of a starving man.
It’s about the absurd banality of office life as it ends or changes for the staff of an advertising agency in the late aughts, and that sounds horrid, but Ferris makes it work. The first person plural works, giving you the sense of detached community of an office before the scene is set or the characters cast. Who can’t relate to “we all knew there was a good deal of pointlessness to nearly all the meetings and in fact one meeting out of every three or four was nearly perfectly without gain or purpose but many meetings revealed the one thing that was necessary and so we attended them and afterward we thanked each other.”
I feel like this book is to blame for the rash of imitators that followed it though, the type of book that’s dryly humorous without being funny and is always tagged with “uproarious!” and “hysterical!” cover blurbs. Ferris even owes me two hours of my time back for one of his own books that tried and failed for this tone. But this one works, and holds up to a second read, even if it’s going into the resale pile.