Inspiration from “Office Space”

Hubby was watching Office Space again this weekend. I was in grad school when I watched this movie for the first time. Back then, it seemed so ridiculous and struck me as the movie equivalent of the Dilbert comics. I thought it was probably an exaggeration of the low points of the office experience. It wasn’t until I joined the work force that I realized how eerily close to the truth that movie was. Now, I work for a great company that I love and believe in, but even though I am surrounded by a lot of talented people, there are still times when I or one of my coworkers will say, “This reminds of that scene in Office Space…”

For those of you who have not watched this epic 1999 movie, here’s the trailer:

The movie revolves around Peter Gibbons and his two programmer friends, Michael Bolton and Samir Nagheenanajar, who all work at a company mired in bureaucracy. Harassed by managers all throughout the day and bullied to work on weekends, Peter is fed up with his job. When consultants are brought in to help the company’s downsizing effort, Michael and Samir both lose their jobs, but not before Peter hatches a plan with them to use a virus to steal money from the company.

Peter: “I was sitting in my cubicle today, and I realized, ever since I started working, every single day of my life has been worse than the day before it. So that means that every single day that you see me, that’s on the worst day of my life.”

I have had days when getting out of bed has taken tremendous effort. It’s particularly bad during the winter time, when I suffer from seasonal affective disorder. The days become a blur; nothing differentiates one day and the next. But for most of the year, once I’m at the office and interacting with coworkers, I become engaged with my work and I often find myself becoming quite active and productive, even with the high amounts of stress. I guess I am fortunate enough that I have a job I do still care about, a job that does not completely sap all the joy out of me.

Peter: “What if we’re still doing this when we’re fifty?”
Samir: “It would be nice to have that kind of job security.”

As much as I enjoy my work now, I don’t think that I can keep it up for another twenty years or so! I know some people who have been in the same job for over a decade. If I keep working in the same position, I need to continue to grow in that role, whether it’s through learning new technologies or working on new products or gaining new skills or handling new responsibilities.

But at the end of the day, it comes down to my employment being my only means of earning a living. I need to keep working to get that paycheck at the end of the month, even on the days when I feel too depressed to get out of bed. If I suddenly lost my job today, it would have disastrous consequences for me and my family.

Peter: Our high school guidance counselor used to ask us what you’d do if you had a million dollars and you didn’t have to work. And invariably what you’d say was supposed to be your career. So, if you wanted to fix old cars then you’re supposed to be an auto mechanic. 
Samir: So what did you say? 
Peter: I never had an answer. I guess that’s why I’m working at Initech. 

If I had a million dollars, I would spend my time researching British history, particularly the 1700s and 1800s. I would take an extended trip to England to visit their museums and palaces. I would go to all the places that I’ve only read about in Jane Austen novels and in historical romances. All of these experiences and knowledge I would then combine to write my own Regency novel.

I’ve always wanted to be a writer but I’ve never wanted to be the poor, starving artist. So I took up a lucrative major and have chosen a different path in life. How do I get to the point where I can stop working for a living and start doing what I truly enjoy?

Peter: Michael, there comes a point in a man’s life and maybe that time for you is now, when it doesn’t hurt to start thinking about the future.

My husband and I set our goals this year after we realized how little we were putting aside from our income. We were basically living paycheck to paycheck! We started reading more on the topics of investment, retirement planning, and living below our means. This blog was born from our desire to be transformed from newbs to experts in financial matters.

I don’t want to be a Peter Gibbons or a Michael Bolton or a Samir Nagheenanajar. I don’t want to lead a miserable existence until I retire at sixty-five. By then, I would be too old to pursue my dreams. I want to take control of my life sooner than that.

I will take control of my financial freedom and the time is now!

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