There, I said it. You know it. Bill Lumbergh from the corporate masterpiece Office Space is today’s villain. I know I write a lot about bad guys from comics and movies, individuals with unfathomable power or evil designs for domination or really cool outfits. Sometimes, though, the bad guy is the dude you see every freaking day, sending that one last email, making you miss your bus. Keeping you stuck in their office for LONGEST, BORING-EST, SOUL SUCKING-EST MEETING EVER!
Sometimes the bad guy is one you can’t escape.
If you haven’t seen Office Space, it’s probably for one of two reasons: you are too young to have owned a VCR or you’re too young to have had a job. I can’t even spoil this movie—it’s that great! It tells the story of a Peter who gets hypnotized to not give a shit (and the hypnotist dies), who begins to notice the soul-crushing monotony that is corporate culture. This movie gave us cult hits like “minimum pieces of flair,” “somebody has a case of the Mondays,” and “you didn’t put a cover sheet on your TPS report. Did you get the memo?” Michael Bolton and the fax machine. The Leap to Conclusions mat. Milton and his red stapler.
But the icing on this cubicle cake was Bill Lumbergh with, “Hey Peter, what’s happening? I’m gonna need you to go ahead and come in this weekend. M’Kay? Greeaat.”
If you’ve had a job, you might have been lucky enough to work for a company that had those cubicle farms: those rows of blue or beige fabric thick enough to hold pushpins, fake wooden desks with the grommets for your computer wires, office chairs with the pilling fabric and poor back support. Maybe you’re there now, reading this, knowing damn well that you can’t wait until there’s cake on Thursday for all the July birthdays or to see Sheila’s vacation photos. It becomes a little maze of sorts—a necessary one (hey, we all gotta eat)—but a maze nonetheless and each corporate citizen is a little mouse. And, in every mouse-ridden maze, there must be a guy who keeps moving the cheese. Putting up corporate policies and carpool sign up sheets. Approving vacation and calling the copier guy. Giving you shit assignments and making you work weekends. That guy is Lumbergh.
So what makes him a dick? Truth is, I’m struggling with this. If you watch the movie, there’s no question he’s he guy to hate, right? But he doesn’t actually do much: he has a non-confrontational, profit over people, bullshit style; wears suspenders; sends creepy ass Milton to work in the basement (and steals his stapler—which sets my man OFF); calls Peter 57 times about not coming in over the weekend; and gives Peter shit about his TPS cover sheets. Bill Lumbergh is the 90s version of Michael Scott: out of touch, ineffectual, enforcer of the culture.
The thing that bothers me the most about this post is the Bill Lumbergh person for me is…me. I approve expenses and vacation, sweat people about timecards, hand out shitty assignments. Pull people into meetings. Write sternly worded emails about poorly completed paperwork.
Now, I’m off to steal someone’s stapler. It’ll make me feel better. Next up, we got one ugly muthafucka coming up: The Predator makes his appearance in the Festival!