Why I Miss The Office
By Stanley Bing

(FORTUNE Magazine) – Er...Give me a minute. I'm sitting here in Jamaica. It's about, oh, 3 P.M., or maybe earlier. Possibly it's later. I have a rum punch in one hand and a Cuban cigar in the other. I've been working on a crossword puzzle for the past hour or two. It's very sunny. I think I may have slept there for a little while. I'm aware that I miss the office a little bit. I find that interesting. What thing could I possibly miss? My sense of enforced purpose? No. That's not right. My desk toys? Yes. Let's say that's thing No. 1.

1. I miss my desk toys. I particularly like the dancing Hawaiian woman with the grass skirt that just barely covers her round little tummy. What fun I have making her do the hula!

2. Waking up in the morning with a knot in my stomach? I don't think so.

3. Having to shave, maybe. I like the feeling of the razor as it slides across the remains of my face for the 65,985th time in the past 20 years or so. It's possible I miss that.

4. My tie. I have a lot of nice ties, and I must miss them. My ties are even more classy than they used to be, ever since Mort made fun of my old batch for being overly patterned. I bought some in primary colors, and now I feel much better about myself.

5. My suits--I certainly must miss those. When I'm not in one of them you couldn't tell me from a gorilla in the zoo. There are, in fact, several gorillas I have seen who look more prepossessing than I do out of my suit. Like right now. I'm in bathing trunks and a shirt that has the logo of a country club on it where I played golf one time. I stank.

6. My train ride in! That's it! It's so quiet in the car, with every-body reading and thinking, except that guy over there who's talking on the phone in a loud voice to someone who is obviously his secretary, barking orders like a teeny-weeny half-star general. Everyone else is looking at him. If he doesn't shut up, we will all rise to our feet and pummel him to death as the ancient Nazarenes dealt with those who transgressed their major laws. Perhaps I miss that sense of unity in the morning. You think?

7. My phone. I miss my phone. I miss sitting at my desk answering the phone and talking on the phone and then, on occasion, letting somebody else answer my phone. On a busy day I may have the opportunity to interface with my phone more than 200 times. I must miss that. I'm not aware of any such feeling at this moment, but it's possible.

8. My cell phone. I have a very small one that fits in my pocket like a smooth, slender stone, the kind I was skipping across the waves just this morning as the sun beat down on the glistening beach and a lean, wafer-thin sailboat skittered across the shimmering horizon. The stone had no speed-dial.

9. My BlackBerry wireless e-mail gizmo. I'm ashamed, but I like it. It's nice to be able to get my e-mail from remote locations. I didn't take it with me because I wanted to get away from it all, so now I know I have e-mail piling up that will greet me when I get home. That's a bad feeling. If I had my little BlackBerry, you know, I could send little replies by tapping out tiny messages with my thumbs. "I'll be back next week," I would say when asked for my opinion. Here, nobody cares for my opinion. Nobody cares about anything much, because it's sunny and warm, which makes you kind of stupid. And then there's the rum.

10. My lunch place? Okay, it is conceivable that I miss the Cobb salad I eat at Michael's most every single day, no matter what else I determine on my way over that I should try to sample. The same way I have the same thing for breakfast every day, and order the same Diet Pepsi at the same time every morning, and again at the same time every afternoon, after the same lunch at the same place where I see the same people, many of whom order the Cobb salad every day, just like me. It's quite good, actually, although they could go a little heavier on the bacon. On the other hand, famous people do come in there a lot to have Cobb salad. I had lunch next to Michael Eisner just the other day. He looked good. Here at this hotel in Jamaica, there is nobody famous at all, and nobody knows who I am--how important I am, you know. That can be a drag when you're waiting behind a bunch of yahoos for a table at dinner when by all rights we should be slicing through that crowd like a hot scimitar through a crusader....Now we're getting somewhere!

11. People sucking up to me! I miss that!

12. Meetings. That's completely ridiculous. Meetings are foul and intolerable and I hate them, except for the ones that are basically excuses for our little gang to get together and pat one another on the tushies. I might miss that a bit if it never happened again. But after a week? I don't think so. The need to be somewhere is odious! How much nicer to have to be nowhere! But how long would it be before that got old too? Right now I have to be nowhere, and I'll tell you the truth, I'm starting to get a little sick of it. I'll tell you what--I think a lot of people here are sick of it too. Why else would we all be drinking rum in the middle of the afternoon? I mean...rum?

13. Let's pursue this people-sucking-up-to-you aspect of the thing. Here you're pretty much dependent on people getting things for you. But what is your standing? They don't get stuff for you because you've achieved sway through a long process of power accretion. They get it for you because you have money. That's not as nice. And they're slower. I've been waiting for a cheeseburger for the past 40 minutes. I've asked the lady twice now where it could be, and each time she says, "Certainly, sir!" I think they're told to say that. It's completely demoralizing. How can I yell at somebody who keeps smiling and saying "certainly" into my face? I miss people jumping six feet in the air and running like sons-of-bitches when I say boo!

14. Being cranky when I want to be. Yeah. Here there's no reason to be unpleasant to anybody. Everybody is so damn jolly. Me, I'm sitting here and I'm happy, you know, but I'm not transcendently happy. Back at the office, I know why I'm not. Here, on the other hand...what's the matter with me? I should be happier, damn it!

15. People telling me what to do. Could that be it? This aimlessness...this lack of personal definition...this sense of time passing with no purpose, no direction...I can't take it anymore! And don't tell me about golf--golf is more pointless than sitting and drinking! Is there anything stupider than golf? The better you get at it, the more aggravating it is! I am a business weapon! Point me at the target! But here I am just a guy in a T-shirt and a dopey grin! Business Bing! I miss me! Send me home! But not until...I've had another drink! Waiter! Where the hell are you?

By day, STANLEY BING is a real executive at a real FORTUNE 500 company he'd rather not name. He can be reached at stanleybing@aol.com.