Don’t get me wrong. I respect The New York Times. Every time they write a major story about me, whether it’s in the style section, the business section or the pet-care section, they always get the facts right, mostly. (Despite what you read, or see, I really am 6-foot, 4-inches, with mane of long blonde hair, chocolate-brown eyes, and a six-pack of rock-hard abs.)
But this time, the Grey Lady totally blew it. They could have hired me to become “The Workologist” and answer questions about workplace conundrums, but instead they hired Rob Walker. He’s a lovely man, I’m sure, even if he doesn’t have a six-pack of rock-hard abs, but when it comes to working in this modern economy, he doesn’t know squat.
Consider the Workologist’s recent response to Matt from Brooklyn, N.Y. Matt was writing for advice on what to do after discovering a co-worker’s name and phone number on a website “collecting ‘customer reviews’ of escorts.” The person who made the discovery was not on the site to post his own review, or so he claims, but once he had found the incriminating digital evidence, Matt from Brooklyn wasn’t sure whether he should: 1) tell the co-worker; 2) tell the co-worker’s supervisor; or 3) “pretend that I never found it and tell no one. That’s what I’ve done so far.”
It is admirable that except for publishing the story in a national newspaper with a subscription base of several million people, Matt from Brooklyn has kept his mouth shut. But the response from Rob “Workologist” Walker is significantly less admirable. “I’m certainly no expert on such sites,” he writes, and I, for one, believe him, “but the idea that someone would use his real name and phone in that context seems extremely unlikely. Maybe the guy is a victim of some kind of crossed wires. The Internet, after all, is thick with bad information.”
Putting aside the trash talk on the Internet — and don’t try to tell me Justin Bieber didn’t kill JFK — what is immediately obvious to me is that the co-worker not only did have his personal information on escort Yelp, he also put it there himself. Why? Because he wanted everyone to know that he is the kind of groovy, edgy guy who uses an escort service and has very high standards for what he gets for his money. In short, he wants to stand out from the boring mass of average employees, doing average jobs, and hiring average escorts.
Really! Once the news gets out on the escort connoisseur in the marketing department — and you know he’s in marketing, don’t you? — his next raise negotiation is going to be a breeze. “Of course, I need an above-guidelines raise,” he’ll tell his supervisor. “I’ve got to get a better class of hookers.”
Meanwhile, on the other side of the country, Ed from Los Angeles asks how to respond to a boss with so-called “anger issues.” While the Workologist falls all over himself, coaching Ed on how to whisper his unease into the shell-like ears of the nearest HR droid, I think that the person with an anger problem here is Ed. Ed’s anger problem is that he doesn’t have enough of it.
If you went running to HR every time a boss “told me off in front of a co-worker,” or “demanded that I uncrossed my legs when speaking to him,” you’d have worn a rut in the hallway carpet two feet deep.
Obviously, Ed from Los Angeles should grow a pair, and when his boss tells him off, his reaction should be to get even angrier and even more unhinged, screaming and shouting and stamping his feet, until the boss crawls back into his hole and never bothers him again. Acting this way will definitely get Ed promoted, since his company clearly values erratic, irrational behavior from managers.
Jules from Somerville, Mass., posed the final question for the Workologist. It concerned the pros and cons of a company providing its employees with a “kegerator — a beer keg/mini-fridge hybrid.” The problem comes in balancing the desire to provide a fun workplace to a young, entrepreneurial staff and supplying beer to a bunch of underage interns. As you would expect, the Workologist was fairly negative when it came to discouraging teenage drinking, but he missed the point altogether. If there’s any beer left in the kegerator after the boss has finished swilling away the pressures of the day, this company is doomed.
Bob Goldman was an advertising executive at a Fortune 500 company, but he finally wised up and opened Bob Goldman Financial Planning in Sausalito, California. He offers a virtual shoulder to cry on at email@example.com.