Doing the bare minimum. No extra flair here!

I haven’t seen the movie Office Space in years and years, but I’ve watched it enough times to have bits of it memorized.

The past few days I keep recalling the scene where Jennifer Aniston’s waitress character argues with her boss about the amount of ‘flair’ she is wearing on her work uniform suspenders. The flair is just a name for the fun pins and buttons the waitstaff are encouraged to wear to express their individuality or something. The boss requires each employee to wear a minimum amount of flair—fifteen pieces—which Aniston’s character does, but then he’s always on her about wanting her to wear more, but without every actually coming out and saying so. One of their hilariously awkward encounters goes like this:

Stan: We need to talk. Do you know what this is about?

Joanna: My, uh, flair?

Stan: Yeah, or, uh, your lack of flair. Because, I’m counting and I only see fifteen pieces. Let me ask you a question, Joanna.

Joanna: Mmm-hmmm.

Stan: What do you think of a person who only does the bare minimum?

Joanna: Huh. What do I think? Um, you know what, Stan, if you want me to wear 37 pieces of flair, like your pretty boy over there, Brian, why don’t you just make the minimum 37 pieces of flair?

Stan: Well, I thought I remembered you saying that you wanted to express yourself.

Joanna: Yeah. You know what, yeah, I do. I do want to express myself, okay. And I don’t need 37 pieces of flair to do it. [she gives Stan the finger]

Joanna: All right? There’s my flair! Okay? And this is me expressing myself, okay? There it is! I hate this job! I hate this goddamn job and I don’t need it! [she storms out]

So why has this scene in particular been playing out in my mind recently, you ask? Because I have no flair any more these days. I can do no extra, be no more than the bare minimum.  And, I’m surprisingly OK with this.

At work, I find myself wanting to hide under my desk and nap all day long. If no students were to show up at my door for instruction, I wouldn’t go seek them out, or complain about it. Instead, I’d offer up silent prayers of thanks, and sit about rejoicing in my lucky fate. Like a woman who’s all too aware of her impending retirement (or, rather, maternity leave, in my case), and overwhelmed by teaching demands, and general physical and emotional exhaustion, I have checked out, so to speak. I may be showing up on a day-to-day basis, but there’s not a whole lot going on behind the great and powerful curtain.

Likewise, at home, I am all about simply surviving—just getting by. Sit on the couch or at the table coloring pictures for an hour? Great! Leftovers for dinner? Check! Take a bath for an hour and then sneak away to the bedroom to lie down while the hubs plays endless games with the girls? Absolutely. Dirty dishes left out on counters and tabletops? No problemo. Laundry not been done in days and days? Ain’t no thang.

Gratefully, my mom and our sitter, both of whom spend time watching the girls in our home, do a phenomenal job of cleaning and tidying up the house while we are at work. They make it so it’s easy to relax when I come home. Also, l’m fortunate to have a partner who can pick up the slack now that I’m getting more and more tired earlier and earlier in the day.

Taking it one day at a time over here. And hoping I don’t have to flip anyone off for attempting to get me to do any more than I’m capable of doing right now—just the bare minimum, please.


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