The 1980s was a fantastic time to grow up. The career paths were seemingly endless. I was drawn to those trying to help society by fighting crime independently. Remember Hawaii-50, how they were cops in Hawaii. In the 80s they took it one step further and had Magnum PI who got to choose who he wanted to help spending the rest of his time hanging out in a mansion with his posse in shorts and a Tommy Bahama shirt. Michael Knight was driving a talking car, MacGuyver was saving the ladies with his gum wrapper neutron bombs. The A-Team; even Michael Landon was bringing us on the Highway to Heaven. When society was fixed it was chill out time. I call that work-life balance.
I went away to college and found out that everything I had watched in those halcyon days had no career prospects – not even Dukes of Hazzard. Well, not all my voracious TV study was in vain because one day I would learn that many of the characters I met on TV I would see again someday in real life (just not necessarily the cool ones). Perhaps you have co-workers like these characters in your office too.
Wesley from Mr. Belvedere
The fact that Mr. Belvedere never backhanded Wesley was kind of touching in a I’m-just-a-kid-one-after-school-special-away-from-getting-that-I’m-annoying kind of way. But we know adults like this. The ones that ask a million questions so they can stick you in front of your boss when you trip up on one. Or the folks that CC everybody in upper management, lower management, basement management so you’ve got to answer to everybody while they take a two hour lunch.
Edie McClurg in like every role she’s ever done
This is the really nice lady in your office who traps you in the copy room or at the coffee station and a seemingly innocent conversation about knitting somehow winds up with you calling Bonnie the Admin Assistant to God’s new hairdo something you saw on Jerry Springer one time after a stage fight. You think maybe Edie was so pleased that I complimented her on her advanced crotcheting technique that she would maybe not roll over on me. Then around 2:00 Bonnie and her ugly hairdo give you the stink eye and you have your answer.
Vinnie from Doogie Howser, MD.
Poor Vinnie – he was the less smart, less good-looking friend who didn’t even have a computer. Doogie moved on awhile back, but Vinnie’s still kicking around. He’s staring down error messages on the old PC, smacking the keyboard around a little bit when he gets frustrated, and generally making sarcastic comments when people complain about his work. He likes to complain a lot about management, but the only thing they’ve done wrong is let him continue to hang around.
Aunt Jackie from Roseanne
Jackie is the perfect encapsulation of a contractor. There are times when Jackie is the smartest, most logical person in the room at Roseanne’s house because she has some objectivity coming in from the outside. There’s other times when you get to know her and it’s clearer why she isn’t married and doesn’t have kids.
Ted McGinley in like every role he had in 1980s
Ted is the guy who is in management and is probably in a role that is higher than his actual abilities because he’s so good looking. He kind of kicked around different places after college maybe until he was around 40 and needed the 401K. As long as he’s not your manager let the guy have whatever he wants. He’s pleasant when you talk to him. He just, from most accounts, doesn’t quite know what he’s doing. They keep putting him on the brochures anyway.
Delta Burke’s character in Designing Women
“Here’s the idea that I came up with.”
“I don’t think that’s the best use of resources.”
“Why thank you, it is the best use of resources, isn’t it? What’s your name again?”
“Major Dad and I wasn’t complimenting you.”
Bob Newhart from Newhart
There always seems to be at least one old guy in management who is afraid to change. It’s because he knows once things change it could prove he’s not really that capable. Mr. Carlson from WKRP in Cincinnatti is another example of this. Now certainly if you’re working with Les Nessman or Larry, Daryl, and Daryl you’ve got your work cut out for you. He’s a likeable guy, but frustrating as hell. Everybody’s on Keurig and he’s holding on to that Mr. Coffee that Joe Dimaggio gave him in 1984. Let’s move froward with the times.
Janet from Three’s Company
Poor Vinnie? Poor Janet – she’s trapped in a world where she’s competing with Suzanne Sommers instead of just being herself. Why were there so many neurotic woman characters in 1980s TV? Joanie from Happy Days, Dianne and Rebecca from Cheers, Mrs. Garrett, Marcie from Married With Children, What’s her name from One Day at a Time. It’s possible that the hairspray and shoulder pads led to some unintended side effects, but we’re over that now, right? Not quite all of us. There’s a few Janets out there that work really, really hard and get nowhere because they give off a nervous vibe. When they release once a year there’s crying, there’s overindulging at the Christmas party, there’s squeeling tires in the parking lot. This craziness is certainly not limited to the women in your office.
Judge Harry from Night Court
We get it – you like magic tricks and practical jokes. We get it – you love Mel Torme. We get it – you’re responsible for trying criminals. Actually we don’t really get that part given that you can’t stop being silly for ten seconds. Yes, the fun guy is in your office. Whether it’s sports or You-tube or wrapping your stapler in Seran Wrap he’s there. It’s fun during a coffee break. It’s exceedingly annoying when there’s a deadline. He never quits. Night Court has so many characters you can see every day – the sleezy Dan Fielding, the neurotic OCD toting Christine Sullivan, Mac the guy who’s there for a paycheck, Bull Shannon, the freakishly tall guy who people keep raving about, but you don’t really know anything about him other than he’s really tall.
Dwayne Wayne from A Different World
Who can forget Dwayne Wayne with his flip down sunglasses checking out the ladies? He’s ditched the flip downs, but he’s still stylin’. Why’s he stylin’ at your office – who the hell knows? By day he answers phones, but at night he is Miami (at least that’s what he tells you when he’s in the bathroom checking his look in the mirror. How he could be Joe Smooth in this part of the state you’re not really sure. He lives in a whole ‘nother world, A different world, dare I say, with tanning beds and manicures!
No really – Corey Feldman works at your office. He’s the one that drives that beat up Toyota who parks it way out because that’s where the shade is and his creditors are not.