We're rapidly approaching the end of the year. It has been a long time since I worked a daily office job -- one of the perks of being a writer is that you can get to work from home; the non-perks are generally "everything else" -- but if there's one thing I remember from this period in December, it's that everyone is frantic. In about a week, much of the work world is going to shut down, so next week is going to be one of the busiest weeks of the year. You have to get everything done before everyone leaves. The holidays don't really provide much time off; it's more time restructuring.
This can lead to stress. I've seen one screaming, eyes-bulging, neck-vein-throbbing office fight in my lifetime, and it was the week before Christmas. The boss was in a sour mood, my co-worker was hungover and exhausted, a deadline was approaching and it looked like we weren't gonna make it. The boss had the wrong tone in his voice, and my co-worker just exploded. Something like, "Well, EXPLETIVE DELETED then do it your EXPLETIVE DELETED self if you're EXPLETIVE DELETED!" There were also some other expletives in there. (I deleted them.) The boss screamed back, and we had to step between them. No one talked the rest of the day. It actually turned out to be one of the most productive days we'd ever had. After holiday break, everyone came back to work and went about their business. It was never discussed again. My co-worker did quit a couple of months later. He's a lot happier now.
We had a generally functional office -- it is to my boss' credit that he didn't fire the guy on the spot -- but you know even better than I do that most aren't. Dysfunction, in many ways, is one of the things we like about our jobs; complaining about your job and the people who do it with you -- often to the people who do it with you -- is part of the point of having a job. (It's what I miss most about working in an office.) Grousing is an integral part of the process.
The difference between your job, though, and a professional athlete's job, is that no one cares about your job. There aren't reporters coming by asking you what you think of your boss, or asking your boss what he or she thinks of your performance, or tracking how your office is doing in comparison to other offices. That would make it so much worse. Which brings me to the New York Knicks, the Seattle Mariners and the Washington football team. You might, in their offices, see a little bit of your own.
The Mariners, as detailed in an already legendary piece by Geoff Baker in the Seattle Times earlier this week, seem to have a Michael Scott office issue: They're run by a buffoon. The way Baker describes general manager Jack Zduriencik -- having associates prepare documents for presentations to make him look smarter, ignorance of basic personnel moves covered for by blatant deception, an inability to stand up to his own bosses -- is actually pretty hilarious, if you don't work there. From that article, Zduriencik pretty clearly has no idea what he's doing, and uses various techniques, with diminishing success, to disguise that fact. Everybody's worked for someone like that, a person who always seems to be falling upward. The story just went public, but you know that the entire Mariners organization has been complaining about that guy during smoke breaks and margarita lunches for years.
Washington and the Knicks share a different problem: They have top-level bosses who keep meddling despite the fact they don't have much idea what they're doing. This is comical, like Zduriencik, but mostly pathetic: Daniel Snyder and Jim Dolan are small men with big jobs, always a dangerous combination. They're impatient, they're tempestuous, they're constantly stomping their feet and pouting. They're also notoriously media-averse, in a way that they think helps them but in reality does the exact opposite. And in their organization, they instill nothing but fear. (Talk to anyone who once worked for Snyder or Dolan; they have the halting cadence of a released hostage.) This leadership style doesn't produce people who do great work. It produces people who are terrific at only one thing: Hanging onto their job, whatever it takes.
And so you get not just terrible teams, but embarrassing ones. The Mariners have that ugly story as the dominant narrative the week they sign a superstar to one of the biggest contracts in baseball history. The Knicks are connected to countless desperation trades, mortgaging what's left of their dim future to salvage the smoldering wreck that their season has become. (As @celebrityhottub pointed out, hilariously , "In fairness to the Knicks, the best players in the 2018 draft are just a bunch of dumb middle schoolers right now." The Knicks are so insane at this point they're trying to trade 14-year-olds.) And Washington has a coach who is actively trying to get fired, a franchise quarterback sulking on the bench and the mockery of the entire planet. Their dysfunction has all gone public, gloriously.
This is the season for such work blowups, after all. They just have to hope in a week, when they holidays come, everyone will just move on and forget about it. No matter what: I'm just glad I don't work there.