Thursday, January 29, 2015

Springfield Workers Unite!

One of the more interesting subjects that The Simpsons has made fun of is the workplace. It seems that most everyone in Springfield hates his or her job or is borderline incompetent. Workplaces are nearly always depicted as hostile, soul crushing environments where employers are only too eager to take advantage of their employees and provide little motivation other than a steady pay check. The longer someone is in his or her job, the less he or she seems to care about it.

One of the more soul crushing workplaces in Springfield is, of course, the Nuclear Power Plant. The owner of the plant, C. Montgomery Burns, cares little for his employees and provides them little motivation to go into work each day. In fact, when Homer once crawled back to Mr. Burns to get his job back, he was personally presented with a “De-Motivational” plaque. When Marge takes a job at the power plant, we actually get to see how unmotivated the staff is; one worker is shown with a blank expression on her face and continuously downs shot after shot of whiskey. Another employee dementedly sits at his desk, polishing a rifle.

This general workplace malaise is evident just about everywhere in Springfield. At Springfield Elementary, Mrs. Krabappel and Miss Hoover practically define the term “unmotivated employees”. Even at the local TV Station, where one would assume everyone would be happy, one employee sadly tells anyone who will listen that he wishes he were dead.

Strangely enough, the people who seem most enthusiastic about their jobs are the ones we would least expect. Springfield Elementary might have an unmotivated workforce, but Principal Seymour Skinner seems to really enjoy his job, despite the indignities he must face being a low paid educator with a staff who cares little for their work. The manager of the Springfield Box Factory has what appears to be the most boring job in the world, yet he seems enthusiastic about it. (The only time he seems upset about his job is when he overhears Krusty mock it.)

Another group of workers who are unexpectedly happy are those who seemingly can’t keep a job for long. Both Gil and the “Squeaky Voiced Teen” are Springfield’s most dedicated workers; Gil once did a dance to try to get someone to buy a newspaper subscription from him, even though the person couldn’t see it because he was on the phone. In fact, it seems that Gil can’t keep a job primarily because he is too honest and too willing to please his customers. The Squeaky Voiced Teen (or SVT) has also shown dedication to his many jobs. Despite being asked for outdated services by the completely old fashioned Mr. Burns, SVT lugs out the Post Office handbook and tries to figure out what exactly Mr. Burns is asking of him. (Other Springfielders might have just asked Mr. Burns to leave.) The one exception to the “Most Employed/Most Dedicated” rule is one of our “Unsung Springfieldians” Raphael The Sarcastic Voiced Guy. Anyone who has a run in with him, regardless of where he’s working this week is sure to be treated rudely or mocked. (Must be why he can’t keep a job…)

So what is the one thing that is consistent about the good workers who like their jobs? From Frank “Grimey” Grimes to Marge Simpson herself, it seems that everyone who is new to their job enters the workplace with enthusiasm and a desire to do their best. This is even true of Bart Simpson, who began his job as Krusty’s assistant wide eyed and excited. It wasn’t until he realized that Krusty was a disgusting, cruel and lazy oaf that he began to dislike his job. In fact, when Bart takes an after school job with the mafia, it isn’t dissatisfaction with his work that ruins things for him, but the fact that he gets blamed for unspeakable crimes by his employers.

The ultimate employee in all of Springfield, however, works for the most undeserving person in town. Waylon Smithers, assistant to Mr. Burns, goes above and beyond the call of duty to help his selfish, greedy boss. While the special attention that he gives Mr. Burns could probably be traced to some unrequited feelings he has for him, he still deserves the title of “Greatest Employee Ever.”

Incompetence is evident just about everywhere you look in Springfield. Since we’ve already discussed the Power Plant, we’ll look at number two on the list of “Most Incompetent Springfield Workplaces”- The Springfield Police Department. The police force is a corrupt joke, headed by the worst Police Chief you’ve probably ever seen- Police Chief Clancy Wiggum. Clancy Wiggum is fat, lazy and corrupt. Among his most egregious offenses:

* He accepts a bribe while testifying in a court of law.

* He leaves his service revolver next to a cake at a wedding party attended by children.

* He tells Marge Simpson that Homer is DOA, when he meant DWI. (He always gets those two mixed up.) When another woman shows up to bail her husband out for being DWI, (We can probably assume that he is really DOA) he cowardly points her to another officer for assistance.

*He leads his officers to a raid on a cattle rustler’s house, but ends up knocking down the door of Reverand Lovejoy instead. When Lovejoy points out that the criminal lives next door we see the presumably stolen cattle grazing on the next door lawn while the cattle rustler (who happens to be perennial criminal Snake) making his getaway.

These are just a few of Wiggum’s offenses; there are hundreds more. All are proof of the Springfield Police Department’s complete incompetence.

So what can we learn from The Simpsons when it comes to the American workplace? Well….

*People who are in the same job forever learn to despise their job and are probably just going through the motions until they retire.

*Most employers care only for the money that their various enterprises generate and don’t really worry about the safety or welfare of their employees.

*The good workers always leave their jobs, frustrated by the lack of recognition they receive and the laziness or corruption of their co-workers.


*Exaggerating the problems with the American Workplace makes for some pretty funny situations!

So let’s end with a classic conversation between Homer and Bart about the nature of working for a living:

Bart: I am through with working. Working is for chumps.
Homer: Son, I’m proud of you. I was twice your age before I figured that out.