My kids and their classmates were startled from their morning routine the other day by the shrill sounds of bells followed by the firm instructions from teachers to line up, stop talking, keep their hands behind their backs and march outside – a fire drill.  Coincidentally, I had my own fire drill at work that day, although mine was more of the metaphorical variety but with similar obedience requirements involving shutting up and getting in line.

As we all swapped fire drill stories later that evening, it occurred to me that my days and the kid’s days are not so dissimilar.  Just as Adam and Tabitha endure the indignities of petty playground politics and feeling as though they are being victimized by “the system” (a system whose sole goal it seems is to keep them from having fun) I, too, endure a form of petty playground politics and feelings of helplessness only on a different scale.  Instead of getting sandbox sand thrown in my face, I have the threat of a pink slip in my inbox.

I realize it’s not an original idea – the analog between work & school – but only now do I realize just how much the two environments really have in common.  From the office vixen to the school slut. From the backstabbing middle management snitch to the tattling tot who turns you in for cheating on your test.  Somehow, I’m living my own version of “Groundhog Day” reliving the same routine, day in and day out for going on (gulp) four decades…


In every school there’s always a goodie-two-shoes, student council type kid who’s overly studious and irritatingly supportive of the administration and all their “rules”.  In the workplace, that irritating kid is now the office manager and we are all forced to endure her aggressive adoption and firm adherence to even more “rules”.

Case in point: my company’s recent decision to abandon Styrofoam cups in the break room in favor of ceramic coffee mugs.  Newsflash people:  I manage to overcome my almost overwhelming desire to drink myself into oblivion each night and the next morning, I somehow overcome the most powerful urge to ditch my job and sleep in for a change.  Instead, I go to work.  I think this qualifies me as a responsible adult (well, mostly responsible).  I’ll venture to say that, at least, I’m responsible enough to handle all the demands of borrowing a coffee mug.

But instead of assuming that we’re all responsible adults here, we’re all treated as children on the playground.  You see, there are no less than 6(!) full-color posters featured on the door to the break room, on both refrigerators, over the sink, and two above the coffee maker all designed and displayed by our former Office Manager to communicate “the rules” about borrowing a coffee mug.

Maybe Dick is a bad influence on me.  Or maybe, after all these years spent following everyone else’s rules I’m finally ready to take a stand and rebel!  Whatever the cause of my new found resistance, I’m proud to say that I’ve grown a pair and have happily graffiti-ed (well, I like to think of it as “virtually altered”) one of the most annoying aforementioned posters – the coffee mug FAQ.  I shit you not.

Of course by doing this, I realize I’m now falling into the typical “problem kid” role, but I figure if I’m going to have to relive my school days for the rest of my life, I might as well have a little fun.


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