May 2008

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Rose Alexander

But if you'd taken the job, there never would have been a Dilbert strip, and everyone would be a lot sadder.


Your words really slap me in the face, though there are people who had advised me the same but doesn't have the same effect as yours.

I always look up to those white collar people, lawyers, accountants, consultants. I find them to be in glamorous position, as deductively, they are brainy since they're those few who are accepted in a tightly competitive position. Salary-wise, high enough to support a family of 3-4.

While I always view that my job to be too easy, exploiting people without using much thought (no brainer) and I am trading vehicle spare parts that deal with mostly less brainy people (in my country that is), basically not as fanciful as white collars workers. However, the earning is more than the average white collar workers, more than enough to pay for 6 adults to vacation once-twice a year overseas.

I couldn't pinpoint till after reading your blog why is it that I look down on my job and thus myself, have no self confidence when meeting with white collar people. I guess as you said it, it all comes down to ego. Most people measure success in terms of financial accumulation, and since this business of mine results in a good one, guess I need to endure the abuse & my ego, in order to reach the bigger goal. Though it will be easier said than done, time heals or rather convinces in this particular case.

There's a Chinese saying 'every position results in a scholar', iow. there is 'high' job nor 'low' job as each job is different and will produce x-factor as long as you excel in it.


I did the opposite. I was flying small planes on ad-hoc charter, for a company with one aircraft.

Fun work, but pay isn't as good as flying larger aircraft, and a lot of my friends were getting into shiny jets or at least large passenger turboprops. With my experience I could have followed them, there are plenty of jobs around, and my ego said to do that. However I have a habit of going with the flow, and liked the company, and got on very well with the boss, so I stayed.

A year later we are about to get our 5th and largest aircraft (still fairly small) and I have just been made chief pilot. Pay is going up rapidly, and the company is now looking at getting aircraft the same size as my friends fly.


Well , i cant say this becos i hav taken a similar decision in my life ...being an Engineer i switched from
and outsourcing compnay to software firm ( on a lower pay ,
and that too after doing my Masters ( not to mention i spent huge amount on it ) and as soon as i left mu previous compnay my colleagues who chipped in as my replacemnet got promoted as Team leads ...
Well i dnt wheter my decision is wrong or right , Any practical decision making person wud say i did a mistake but i think i m more happy ...
Still keeping my fingers crossed ..

I Wish I Knew What To Do

I haven't driven off the cliff yet but am worried that I'm on my way. In my office, I'm essential for daily operations and am the go-to guy for everything. I've been here longer than 85% of the department (almost 4 years) and am a manager in that I provide leadership to my colleagues. However, I have not been promoted while new hires off the street are given the title of "Manager" as incentive to join us. I don't care about the title but I do care about the additional vacation time and higher bonus cap. I may resign a great job (good pay, good benefits, very comfortable here, and get to surf the web at my pleasure) simply because I believe the only way to move up is to leave. Do I even NEED to move up if I'm doing alright? Is it just my ego and resentment? Or am I being left behind because I'm not taking assertive action? I don't know.

What I do know is that this is my second career in my life so far and I expect to have two, possibly three more, before I die. Is it time for change?

This Sunday Dilbert really hit home for me:


1. To respond first to the direct question:
a) I trashed my college education, scholarships and all, because I perceived then that it was nurturing vast numbers of young people in the arts of forgery, falsehood, and prostitution. I wanted everyone to reject this model--I wanted people to "fail", as I "failed" all my courses, and cause thereby the machine itself to grind to a halt. I don't regret this or any other of my decisions in life; I made the best, best-considered choice at the time that I could. HOWEVER, eventually I came to several negations of my actions:
Penn State and America in general were much more than my sweeping pronouncements described;
plenty of good things and good people resulted from this very system;
plenty of good things existed in it for me and I would have served myself better to have searched more for them. However, I was badly impeded by going through that era in a clinical depression.
b) I actively resisted the Viet Nam war and, instead of accepting enlistment in the Air Force or National Guard or any of the easy-way-out alternatives, refused to report for induction. This foreclosed numerous alternatives and advantages in my life, as I clearly saw it would.
c) At the age of 35, when being invited to be a self-employed computer consultant in the occupation I was pretty good at (and still enjoy) in a major city, I chose instead to relocate to Northern New England (Maine), where the only employment in that field turned out to be in a suffocating bureaucracy. It was a Dilbert-land (how often Dilbert has given me uproarious, aching laughter!) where I got only two small, incremental promotions over the next twenty years--I never again had the scope of operation, independence, or respect I left behind. HOWEVER, I recognized:
that in the city I was exhausting myself. I felt vaguely uncomfortable, as though I had been holding my breath
this job was a 9-to-5. Except for being on call--those 3 a.m. jangles in January--when I left work, I left work.
Thus I had time to be father to my children. I loved that. EXCELLENT result.
I made enough money to live on. Mud was all around us, and in our house. No big deal; we lived on a farm; mud and manure. I drove a Dodge Colt, then a couple Ford Escorts--all coming to me after 100,000 miles. We did forego (forewent?) other things; I never felt aggrieved for not having them. We ate well and had plenty of firewood every winter. I'd say we had lots of things. Books, banjos, bikes, stereo, TV, videos, computers.
I had security. Union representation. I wasn't going to get ahead, but I wasn't going to be fired, and workplace ego noises were damped so people worked without those shrieking stresses.
THUS I had enough time and mental energy so that I pursued my truest self: at six o'clock in the mornings, sometimes five o'clock, and on weekends, I wrote. I wrote novels and short stories.
Moreover, I lived a more complete life. I participated in affairs of my union, my town, my church, my kids' schools. I planted a small apple orchard. I had plenty of honest-to-god farm work.

2. Let's leave behind this loser / winner metaphor; it's an artifact of a toxic mindset, and I see its poisonous traces all through our gray matter. Bogus Darwinian self-justifications advanced by sociopaths. Who wins WHAT? Money? Getting more of anything than we must give?, is that the measure we're using? People, life's about living in co-operation. Marriage. Children. Our children's friends, our families--cousins, aunts, uncles, all that. Our good earth and all those other earthlings: elephants, birds, bees, bugs. Don't allow yourself to be economically atomized.

3. I see that some people have regretted telling the truth. Wow. I hesitate to judge anyone "wrong" (excepting felonious acts), but regretting truth... is wrong. Regret vehemence instead; regret harshness; regret lack of tact; ask yourself if you might have made your point more skillfully--these social nuances are often mistaken for untruthfulness, by people having lacked grace in some encounter. (And by the way, expressing yourself without respect toward another--using hatred, scorn, contempt--is commonly mistaken for truthfulness.) Man! When we believe that we must always conceal truth, or that we live in dense steamy forests of falsehoods supported by shadowy power itself... we have delivered ourselves to our enemy.

4. Returning to the original fable: I believe Scott Adams made correct decisions in both cases. First, you shied away from something "against your nature." Often of course we must do things not to our liking; discipline requires of us; here however we're discussing a discretionary junction in life. If you now wish you'd been that other person, then yes your ego misguided you; if you like being the creator of Dilbert, it did well. In the matter of accepting guidance from outer sources--there's no real contradiction to the former situation; it's a false dichotomy. I have no way of knowing how many artists have never accepted feedback about their work; I do know that most, do. Editors have often improved writers' work. Editors have also ruined work. I think in this particular instance, you were being offered a chance to connect to a broader audience (readers liked one situation better), and you found that more desirable than remaining in your small niche. No tragedy there. Of course you were just tossing out your blog--we value speed so much, whereas this response has taken me half a morning (and five to zero people may read it).

All this keen perspicuity come to you from someone who has made all the "wrong" decisions. A "loser" that is, another of millions of American artists, who's never published a novel, only some 20-odd stories, and never in a publication with as much as 5000 readers. But likely your response won't consider those matters. More likely you'll simply consider, "Does this make sense? Is this right?"

That's how it ought to be.

--Tom Yori, wizofod


I should have included this in my first reply. To the people saying 'Well Scott is a multimillionaire cartoonist, so that early career choice is moot':

In a parallel universe where Scott /doesn't/ have the skills and good fortune to become a professional cartoonist, he'd either still be stuck in a cubicle somewhere (if he snubs the gopher job out of pride) or owning his own bank (if he accepts the gopher job and jumps up the promotion ladder). For those of us who won't become multimillionaire cartoonists, the gopher/no-gopher choice isn't a moot point!

[by the way: ego = Ratbert = rodent = gopher]


Nice to see a post I can wholeheartedly agree with! I wonder, are 'ego' and 'pride' equivalent terms?

Coincidentally, Eric Hacke (the 25th reply) seems to have stolen my career. I'm an aerospace engineering student with a taste for coding and aspirations of working in simulation development...


2 Years ago I was offered a similar position to Scott's heres the details
I had just turned 22 and was working in Cable television and Sales ( see also customer service rep with a specialty in sales). So My manager walked into my cube and asked if we could have a chat down in the boardroom. First thing that comes to mind is "uh oh what did i do wrong second thing is huh?) anyway in the board room is sitting the CEO of the company I work for and The regional VP in charge of sales. My manager then walks out leaving me with these very powerful men in really dark suits. They proceed to go over my sales numbers from the time i had been with the company ( 2 years prior) to the present time ( 2 years ago) Now during this time i had come to the attention of the CEO /president of the company who arranged this meeting. So the CEO looks at me and then looks at the numbers. He sits there and repeats this motion for 5 minutes ( at this point i think some how i stepped in some VERY deep $#!+) then the CEO speaks " how would you like to come to Philadelphia and be my personal assistant? " Now after weighing it in my mind ( give up $25.75 per hour for 18.00 per hour and give up my commissions) I told him thanks but no thanks. He offered me a private office and twice my yearly salary. My ego got in the way and said this has got to be too good to be true. I say no again. he CEO then tells me I am making a huge mistake. Long story shortened I took a different job ( one which seemed better but was much worse) Now my uddy who was offered the job was just named Acting regonal VP for the West Coast All because he took the job i turned down Man am i ever pissed


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My first job offer out of school. Instead of taking the offer from my mentor which would have taken me from Nextel to Marriott and probably be big time by now, I chose to run a department at a small company. I ended up leaving the small company 3 months later.


I had one, although what impact it had on my long-term career is unclear.

I was working as the assistant manager of a retail store, and was approached about becoming the 2nd assistant manager at an Apple store that was about to open down the street. I turned it down, as the switch would have meant both a salary cut and less responsibility that the job I already had.

I went back to school some 6 months later, and am in a different career now, but sometimes I wonder whether turning down the gig at Apple really was the right choice.


Depends. I preferred Dilbert when it was still a "loser comic".

It depends on what you're going for. If "winning" (in terms of commercial success) is your only goal, then by all means make a commercial decision at the expense of some personal involvement in your work. There's no negative connotation to giving people what they say they want.

If your work loses a little soul and turns into a focused product, you'll make money. But your work loses a little soul and personal imprint.


Yep, lost custody of my children due to my stupid arrogance. Took years to reverse that, and I'll never be so arrogant again.

Armando Esteban


Alice in Wonderland

I've made several that were more in keeping with my conscience than my ego. I don't regret them since I didn't like either job anyway, and had no trouble getting a new one. Sometimes an organization/person is just evil and needs to be outed. I'd do it again.

Simon Allen (UK)

Before I tell you of a bad decision I can say that it got me out of a job that I did not want - except financially!!! This bad decision cost me such a bundle of money. Did I subconsciously WANT to get out of the job? No, I wanted to see it through and every time I have thought about this in the following 14 years, I know I made the wrong decision.

I told the truth.

There was one guy in the department, a manager, that was making everyone's life a misery and hindering development of projects. All (seriously - all) of the staff hated him and his own manager 'dissed' him in private.

After three months of hesitating, I decided to try and fix the problem and the result was constructive dismissal. I did not take them to tribunal as I knew they would win. I knew that because I sought the advice of an old timer and he said that, what was happening to me, had happened many times to trouble makers. I should have spoken to the old timer first!

The company was (and is) and international name, known in almost every household in the industrialised world and I am sure that this kind of thing happens every day in many companies around the world.

Was it ego that made me want to tell the truth instead of staying in my cubicle with Wally?


i agree with ur ego tho, my fav strips were the ones back at dilberts house, loved them, but i guess if i had ever worked a day in my life id like the office ones more than i do.

Stoned Lion

Many years ago, when I was 18 yrs old I worked for a summer for an older gentleman who owned a small collection of lemonade stands, like you see at the county fair. It was easy work and he paid well. But it was strictly a seasonal business as he operated in the midwest and didn't have any desire to work more than a couple of states away from his home.

Towards the end of the summer he told me that his health was declining and he didn't think he had more than a season or two left in him working the county fair circuit. He told me that he could see I had a good head for the business and ambition to expand it. He offered to sell me the business, lock, stock and barrel and he would finance it.

I turned him down without even giving it much thought. I was such a fool. This was a man who lived quite well selling lemonade 4 months a year! I am in my 40's now and mentally kick myself when I think of how short sighted I was.


I think it's pretty random... just because the move worked out for one guy doesn't mean it would have worked out for you. Do you really wish you had become an executive? I suspect you'd much rather me doing Dilbert. Your decision worked out as well as any could hope for; just not the way you expected.


I had an experience like the one described by gr8hands, well, worst, my big stupid ego made me fall twice, and lost a lot, and potentially, lost more. But, you never know how it will end otherwise, in your story he made him Vice President, maybe it woulnd't make you that.
I ever think that i am what i am because me and what i did and happened to me, if not, it wont be me, so, lets go on, and live happy with what i have and can do, that is far more than with what i started in this life.
Somehow, this post cheered me up. Thanks.


When I was in college I was already working at a bank part-time and my advisor told me I should look into an internship at the same bank. I said "Why would I want an internship when I already am an employee there?" Stupid mistake, years later I found out that interns get shot up the corporate ladder much faster because they get better assignments. I might have owned my own bank by now too.


[Boring comment on free will deleted -- Scott]


I once broke up with a nearly perfect guy because he didn't clean under his foreskin very well. Wait, I'm not sure if that's topical...

Neighbor Dave

I must defer to Dogbert:

"Never listen to your customers. They were stupid enough to buy your product, so they have no credibility."


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