When Bruce Springsteen is Your Coworker

Posted By on Jul 19, 2017 | 0 comments


I took some Somnis the other night before I went to bed. This stuff often gives me crazy dreams.

Here’s a good one.

I was working in the most dismal of offices. Gray, padded cubicle walls. Very dim lighting with lots of dark corners, like a dirty aquarium. Everyone, including me, was wearing ill-fitting pants suits, made of those soul-crushing polyester blends that scream “I’m only wearing this because it meets the criteria for office attire. But these clothes are silently sucking the life force out of me.”

I went into a conference room to join my coworkers for a required and dreaded meeting. I worked my way around the large and smelly fish tanks that now took up most of the center of the room where the conference table used to be. Those tanks were part of a pet project of our new employee-in-residence. I say “in residence” because this guy didn’t really work per se. Rather, he just came into the office every day, hung around, watched us, and did a bunch of things that didn’t really fit with our core mission, like grow artichokes in the little strip of grass between the back door and the parking lot.

I schlumped myself into a chair in the far side of the room, briefly making eye contact with a coworker and exchanging a look that said “Do you believe this shit?”

We all marinated in the fetid air from the aquarium tanks until the employee-in-residence strolled in about five minutes late. No polyester for him. Soft, worn jeans. He looked relaxed. Had some soil on his forearm, as if he’d just come in from the garden.

Our boss explained that for today’s session we were in for a treat. We were going to explore our non-linear thinking through songwriting and see how we could apply it to business. Bruce, our aquarium tender/gardener/observer had offered to share his formidable skills with us as a way of thanking us for allowing him to share our office while he got a better understanding of what life was like for the American office worker.

Bruce said a few words about how songwriting can lead to creativity in all kinds of things. Then he turned to a woman on his right. Mary. He asked her to try to sing a few lines of a song … just whatever popped into her head. No pressure.

Mary’s eyes were bigger than the artichokes we all passed on the way to our cars every evening. She squirmed in her seat and looked like she might cry. Bruce looked her right in the eyes and mumbled some words of encouragement, like a friendly grandpa. Mary warbled out a few lines a tune. It sound like a cross between a commercial jingle and something she’d probably sung to her kids when they were in bathtub.

Bruce nodded. “Nice. Not bad. OK, now everyone … tell me what you think sounds better … Mary’s song, or something like this …”

Bruce strapped on a guitar and began playing.

With my arms crossed, I leaned over hard to my left so my head was inches from my coworker’s. “Gee. I wonder whose song sounds better, Bruce Springsteen? You’re only one of the best songwriters in the history of the American fucking songbook.”

My coworker snorted in agreement. Fucking Bruce.

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