View Full Version : Anything?

09-02-2005, 02:37 AM
I'm writing a screenplay and it starts with a man at a white collar, office job. Unfortunately I have had no experience with such jobs so I don't exactly know how to write for this situation. I dont know what information anyone could give but anything would do.

09-02-2005, 03:33 AM
Just decide whether he is an attorney, CPA, business owner, banker, administrator of nursing home or some other facilty,etc. then try googling for a job description for the specific job you have him doing. Add in 2 hour lunches, send him to work about 9 a.m. (maybe 8. . .depending on job.)

09-02-2005, 09:58 PM
I have a question. Does he half to be white collar? Why not write in a guy who is employed in something you do know about? If it important to the plot, Office Space is a good movie.

09-02-2005, 11:13 PM
What kind of office job? That is, does he hold a position of any authority, or is he just a data entry guy or something? There's a world of difference.

The lower you are on the office job ladder, the more boring your day will be, even when you're busy.

09-03-2005, 12:54 PM
I think specifying the job would help a lot in coming up with the details you're looking for. In "Office Space" the workers are Software Engineers, which is my boyfriend's occupation, and he found the movie hilarious. If you're looking for a very bland occupation you could try making him a claims officer in an insurance company. I did that for a year and I found myself experiencing all the "white collar inner-city office worker" cliches.

You could also try checking out the comic strip "Dilbert" for inspiration.

09-03-2005, 09:00 PM
I suppose I should have given more information. It is a comedy and it starts with the character at his first day on the job. Pretty much any office job would do. He is smart and skilled enough but he is someone that despises conventional society, 9-5, family life, all that sh*t and Im going to have him quit in the middle of his orientation. I have most of it figured out I just dont have a clue what would be said at his orientation. He should be low on the job ladder; I would like it to be a pretty boring job because that is what makes him want to quit. I dont know if it's relevant here but throughout the movie he is going to quit or be fired from various jobs, not all white collar but for the opening scene I need it to be boring, white collar work.

09-03-2005, 11:54 PM
Definitely see the Scott Adams Dilbert comics or books, then (he's got a website too, but I don't have the url handy). He'll give you a deliciously revolting look at life in the white-collar corporate world. Very accurate and very sarcastic. As far as the orientation goes, they'll probably yammer on about things like the organization's mission statement, goals, why they're a terrific place to work, and how important his job is to upholding the current world order. Lots of nearly impenetrable corporate-speak will probably be spoken, and he'll likely be given paperwork to pretend he read and sign. He'd likely be told what to do if he had a grievance with another employee or supervisor, and what will happen to him if his supervisor has a grievance with him. And so on. If you settle on a particular occupation, I'm sure someone here could give you details to parody that would make the piece that much more effective.

09-04-2005, 12:01 AM
Thanks for your help. I'll try to think of a specific job, but if anyone has a specific job they could give info on it would be great. Anything low level would be good, like I said I dont have any experience with such jobs so it's gonne be difficult for me to think of one.

09-04-2005, 09:55 AM
Have you considered just having something droning on in the background? Showing the character being bored, not paying attention, fidgeting, his thoughts while the 'HR stuffed suit with his tired, nasally voice continues to discuss the probationary period as if it were Something of Great Importance'. In this manner you can just mention that the character is in the office for this job and then when he walks out it's not much of a surprise. Then it doesn't really matter what the *specifics* of the job are because the reader sees that the character just didn't care.


09-04-2005, 12:22 PM
Connie Willis did a great sendup of corporate seminars, orientations, motivational programs, that sort of thing in Bellwether, a novel.

You could broaden your experience by taking some temp jobs in settings like the one you want details for.

09-04-2005, 12:40 PM
My experiences with orientations at boring, white-collar jobs:

Give a complete history of the company and assume the low-level workers care.
Explain what each of the different positions within the organization does, whether the new hire will have any contact with those positions or fully understands what they are yet.
Provide examples of the different services/products offered by the company. Again, including ones the new hire will have nothing to do with.
Introduce the new hire to different managers and executives, including those they will never really have an opportunity to talk to again.
Provide a tour of the facilities and expect them to be able to find their way around later.
They will also be given numerous forms to fill out, such as insurance forms and W-4's (or are the W-2's; I always get those confused.)

09-04-2005, 04:23 PM
And someone at some point will shake the guy's hand and say "Welcome aboard" in a hearty way. Which would actually be a funny time to quit, when you think about it.

09-04-2005, 05:44 PM
Ever been in Walmart early in the morning when they do their "Rah Rah" session. Guess it wouldn't be considered a white collar job, but let me tell you having to cheer and do that "Give me a W. . ..Give me an A" stuff is enough to make anyone quit!

09-04-2005, 08:35 PM
Thanks for your help eveyone.

09-06-2005, 11:09 PM
The forms really burn me, no matter the job. Why in the heck did I spend so much time and money on a resume if I just have to put the same info on an application, esp. AFTER I've been hired! UGH. You'll notice in Birols notes it doesn't have the actual job explained to the person. I've had that happen too. THere's your desk. Have a nice day.
I had a friend who was hired at a furniture store in a managerial type position, told there would be no selling and then at the orientation they outlined the commission procedures. Needless to say, he quit. They flat outlied to him in the hireing process.

09-09-2005, 08:04 PM
I just remembered my orientation for the position I am currently in, and It was a doosie!! :ROFL: We were in the coroporate conference room, and our speaker fliped through about 50 slides of totally useless information. Most of it was consistent with explaining how marketing works to somebody who has spent their whoile career in marketing. Totally useless!!
So the best part. This older gentlemen without a suit coat (very dressy office) comes to the podium and begins with (i'm not kidding), "My name is Frank Dg---, but you can all call me Red Tiger. Our mission here is crtical!! You are important because without you, we couldn't fulfill our mission! What you do every day impacts the rest of the world and I know you can be the best! Together we can accomplish anything!! Blah...blah..blah..blah" He is going crazy with hands flapping all over the place, and staring intently into peoples eyes.

The best part of his motivational/orientation/lack of any real information speal, was that he was a tech guy. He handled our webpages...lol. That was his only job! I think that could be some great imagery (written far better then my scribbles) with someone who is TOTALLY excited about something mundane like data entry. Especially when they don't actually do the data entry. It was great!

09-10-2005, 09:27 PM
You could broaden your experience by taking some temp jobs in settings like the one you want details for.That approaches brilliant--the simplest idea, too. Nothing any of us tells you here, no matter how truthful and thorough, is going to come through in your writing as well as what you've experienced yourself could.


09-10-2005, 09:35 PM


Julie Worth
09-10-2005, 10:23 PM
Depending on how savvy the company is, they may have you read the safety manual for a week. This is to soften you up for indoctrination. The equation used by HR: Softened brain = easy imprinting of corporate propaganda. Corporate propaganda is intentionally boring. You become so bored that you go out-of-body, and the information goes in unfiltered. If you survive this, they will take you to a desk in HR to sign a secrecy agreement and a non-compete agreement, so that if you leave the company, you will never work again. The process is so rigorous that you might be tempted to commit suicide, but that's the object. It quickly eliminates employees with non-zombie like tendencies.

09-11-2005, 12:41 AM
Having done hundreds of these myself.....New Employee Orientation usually includes:

All the paperwork that HR people need to have filled out to keep "our" government happy and to pay people,
A brief, brief overview of the company,
Safety orientation,
An overview of the company's benefits,
A brief review of the company's policies (like salary increases, reviews, working hours, parking, etc.),
An overview of the company's internal computer network, and
A tour ('cause you need to know where things are located such as the emergency exits, the bathrooms, the copy room, etc.).
I think it would be very funny if the guy disappeared during the tour and I think that having someone that is a copy machine operator be stoked about the company would be funny.

Many techies are more comfortable communicating with computers than with people and their salaries cost way too much to have them doing orientation.

09-23-2005, 10:15 PM
Also in the orientation, they are likely to either a) hand him an employee handbook and demand that he sign a paper that he has read it, without actually giving him time to read the handbook or b) go over every line in the handbook, stressing points like you can clock in six minutes late and be considered on time, but if you are seven minutes late you are tardy, and if you are tardy three times you're fired.

Sass -there's actually a method behind the madness of the application. In most companies, you can't be fired for lying on your resume, but you can be fired for lying on your application. Also, the app includes some material that is not on your resume, like: Have you ever been convicted of a felony?

I worked at a place once where a new sales person went to lunch the first day and never came back. And twice I've seen new customer service employees go to the bathroom and not come back, within the first 4 hours. (I wasn't doing the orientation in those cases!!)

I agree an office temp job would be the best idea, because my experiences have been un-Dilbertlike. Unfortunately, as a temp you're unlikely to get the full orientation routine, because you're employed by the temp agency, not the client.

Almost forgot- a lot of companies now have orientation videos that are basically 1 hour rah-rah infomercials on how great the company is and how wonderful they are to work for. Like, they'll mention flex time in the video right after the supervisor explains the seven minute rule to you in person.

09-23-2005, 10:31 PM
Joni, you got me on the lieing on the resume vs. the application part, but as far as the other info, just use my resume and let me asnwer that info. But you make a most valid point, one I had not thought of in all my years of loathing filling out ANOTHER application, esp after paying 150 to have a resume professionally written. sigh.

09-23-2005, 10:37 PM
I'd second or third or fourth or whatever we're up to of "Office Space" as a suggested source of what that world is like. Everyone really does carry a cup of coffee everywhere, ask if you've seen The Memo, and hoard staplers. Another unanimous characteristic of office workers is they always say what a crazy group they are. We're so whacky, so funny. I noticed this even when I was a small child visiting my mom's office and it's still true 40 years later!

The British TV show, "The Office," captures this so well. It starts with a new temp being shown around. It's possibly even better than "Office Space." Almost too realistic to be funny. But so painful you have to laugh.

One other note, in my experience, it doesn't necessarily get any less boring as you move "up the ladder."

09-23-2005, 10:49 PM
In my experience the coffee cups often get left odd places, too. Particularly those belonging to the middle management and up. The same is true of their daily planners.

CSR: There's a coffee cup in the microwave. I took it out to reheat my lunch, but I put it back in when I was done. I don't know whose it is.

ME: What did it look like?

CSR: It's a St. Louis Cardinals mug.

ME: Ah. Bob's then. Would you mind taking it to him? He's in his office.

CSR: Okay. Sure.

ME: And if you happen to see a Wile E. Coyote mug, let Don know where it is, okay? It's probably with his planner. He hasn't seen either of them for the last three hours.

CSR leaves chuckling at management.

Of course, it gets really confusing right after they give everyone identical travel mugs with the company logo on them. You're never certain who has lost theirs or whose is whose.

09-25-2005, 03:34 PM
Joni, you got me on the lieing on the resume vs. the application part, but as far as the other info, just use my resume and let me asnwer that info. But you make a most valid point, one I had not thought of in all my years of loathing filling out ANOTHER application, esp after paying 150 to have a resume professionally written. sigh.

Sass- you're right, of course. Many companies will let you just put "see resume" on the job history portion of the application, but some will not. But, if you got an interview, the $150 resume did its job, right?

Also on the app there's usually a section where you agree to abide by the employer's policies, and agree they can fire you if you don't, with a signature. Resumes don't have a signature.

Here's an ugly secret. I used to hire for hotel front desk jobs. We had to know, will this person be able to deal with frustrating customers, or will they lose their cool the first time they encounter some b.s.? Here's how we tested: When they came in to interview, we had them fill out ANOTHER application, even though we already had an application and a resume. If they were impatient or rude about it, we knew they would probably be impatient or rude with difficult guests, and we didn't hire them.

Mean, huh?
Sass, I'm assuming we could count you out on that one?:idea: