She Who Laughs, Lasts

It’s Friday and time for a blast from the past. I posted this just over a year ago and I’m still looking for an answer. I figure it’s worth another try.

thw-blog-award.jpg An artifact from my cubicle days. Around the edge is written, “Repeat as necessary: ‘I can’t. I have to work.’ “

A couple years ago I was cleaning and sorting through piles that had accumulated in my office and found my long-forgotten Mood-Meter. Way back when I was still an employee, I took over for the marketing director of the firm I worked for while she was out on maternity leave. She was (and I presume still is) a woman of many admirable qualities, not least of which were: 1) an extraordinary ability to keep work in perspective and maintain a balanced life and 2) a great sense of humor (the latter contributing a lot to the former).

Knowing that I would essentially be doing two jobs while she was gone, she gave me a “meter” to put above my desk indicating to others what my mood of the moment was – 1) I’d be happy to help you! 2) I might have some time later… 3) You want what? by when? 4) !@#$%^&*!!. It looked a lot like a fire-danger road sign, with zones from green, to yellow, to orange, to red. Sometimes I’d move the arrow, sometimes coworkers moved it for me, sometimes they borrowed the meter…

It was fun. It was funny. It genuinely helped us get through her absence and we continued to use it after she returned. We made more for other coworkers, personalized to their individual quirks.

Finding this after being self-employed for a couple years made me realize I don’t have this kind, or any kind, of humor about working for myself. Becoming an entrepreneur somehow made me all serious… or perhaps I’ve always tended toward serious, but now I lack co-workers to help me remember to laugh in spite of myself.

There’s a lot to be serious about in one’s own business. And with no bureaucracy to blame for the occasional absurdity, in joking about it, it can feel as though you are the pointy-haired boss rather than Dilbert. Or, at best, both at the same time (maybe that’s the joke).

One of the few cartoons I’ve seen about being self-employed illustrated a naked man sitting at a desk working at a computer, entitled something like “Casual Friday at the home office,” (hardly laugh-out-loud humor). The only funny item I have at the moment is a postcard pinned above my desk entitled, “7 Reasons Why You Should Do It For Free” (worthy of its own post). It falls rather short of the Mood-Meter.

My question is this: Where is the Scott Adams of self-employment? We need him – or her. Because this thing we are doing is often truly absurd – and I, for one, could use a good laugh.

Know any good jokes about entrepreneurs? Seen any funny cartoons about self-employment? I’d be grateful if you shared. Thanks.


3 Responses to “She Who Laughs, Lasts”

  1. 1 JoVE March 27, 2009 at 9:57 am

    Sounds like we need something that riffs on that character from How to Get Ahead in Advertising that had the little head growing out of his neck…

    Your meter about questions made me think of a cartoon a colleague used to have on his door that had a guy behind a desk talking on the phone with the caption “No. Thursday doesn’t work. How about never. Does never work for you?”

  2. 2 Claudia April 8, 2009 at 6:16 am

    Hi there,

    Enjoying your Web site! Here is a comic strip that is about as right on as it gets.

    Hope it makes you laugh–I’ve taped up a few in my cubicle and they give me that great, solid, “I’m not alone…” feeling, even in the darkest hours.


  3. 3 susan April 20, 2009 at 10:40 am

    check out freelance freedom – heavily geared towards graphic designers, but some general stuff as well.

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Third Hand Works

from overwhelmed to ready for anything | organization and time management for people in their "right" minds | administrative guidance for independent creative professionals [more info]



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