The Office vs. working from home

By Katharine Swan On Friday, January 02, 2009 At 10:08 AM

A week ago I mentioned that Michael and I woke up early Christmas morning and watched several hours of The Office. We started watching this show a couple of weeks ago, when we discovered we could get it streaming on our TV via Netflix and Xbox Live, and we've already watched up through the fourth season. (They're in the middle of the fifth right now, so it's not yet available through Netflix.)

This show reminds me a lot of what it was like to really work in an office. I worked as a technical writer in an office for about ten months after graduation before transitioning to freelancing full time. It wasn't for very long, but my experiences there were rather, er, memorable.

The boss, Michael Scott, has toned down and become more of a sympathetic character since the first season, but early on he really reminded me of my boss at that job. It actually made it difficult to watch sometimes, because it brought back so many memories.

Mostly, though, The Office reminds me of all the fun parts of working in an office. The pranks they play on one another are hysterical. For instance, in one episode there was a squeaky desk chair in the office, and everyone kept switching chairs with their neighbors when they weren't looking. This was funny partly because it was so darn realistic — that kind of thing happens all of the time in an office! The show even manages to make all the usual office drama, such as crazy coworkers and office feuds, seem appealing.

I think part of the reason why I love this show so much is because I don't get to experience any of this anymore. I'm not saying that I don't like being a freelance writer; I love the relaxed environment and flexible hours of working from home. However, there is definitely a social aspect to working in an office that I miss.


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Blogger Kathy@TheFlawlessWord Says:  

Did you know that the city The Office takes place in is the one 15 miles from me? I initally started watching for all the local references. Now, it is my absolute favorite show. Occasionally, I miss the office hijinks too, but I think the reason I like this show so much is that it reminds me of all the *awful* stuff I don't have to contend with anymore.

Blogger Katharine Swan Says:  

I knew about where it was, but I didn't stop to think how close that would be to you! Are the local references pretty accurate? I haven't been to that part of Pennsylvania so I wouldn't know.

It's the socializing that I miss about working in an office. Blogging and other online networking makes up for some of it, but not all!

Blogger Kathy@TheFlawlessWord Says:  

No, the references are not always that accurate. They've remedied that somewhat by having consultants come to the area and talk with and actually get props from local businesses. We even have annual Office conventions at the local mall/university, but none of the main characters have attended yet. Dwight did have a separate mall appearance a few years back. (He's my favorite character.)

Since you just watched Season 4, during the season finale, Michael's ex asked him if he would attend Lamaze classes with her in Allentown. Allentown is an hour away from Scranton, and it's REALLY unlikely she'd travel that far. In that same episode, however, the grocery store was Gerrity's, which is a local Shur-Save chain. I don't have the videos (yet) but I've bought them all for my brother. He said that they have unaired bonus outtakes and in one of them Dwight actually references Little Rocky Glen, which is less than two miles from where I live, and Shadowbrook, a resort that's five miles away.

Blogger Katharine Swan Says:  

Interesting about Allentown. I think I've heard my mom talk about Allentown, so when they mentioned it I thought maybe Scranton was closer to Pittsburgh than I thought. Ha!

That's pretty cool about the grocery store and the places mentioned in the outtakes. We watched the videos streaming via Netflix/Xbox Live, but maybe we'll have to get the actual DVDs from Netflix and watch some of the bonus materials!


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Katharine Swan is a full-time freelance writer with more than 5 years of professional writing experience. In addition to maintaining several personal blogs, she writes a variety of online marketing materials for clients, including company blogs, articles, and press releases. In her free time, she spends time with her horse, reads, and writes fiction.

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