Created By: somerandomdudeSeptember 25, 2011 Last Edited By: somerandomdudeSeptember 27, 2011

The Generic White-Collar Office Job

That office job that lots of fictional dads have, but it\'s never specified what their actual role in the company is

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Trope
Alternate Titles: Work Inc

Do We Have This One?

This is the boring, shirt-and-tie, water-cooler, cubicle job that just about every fictional father, and many other people (mostly men), have. Typically, they sit at a computer desk all day typing, faxing things, making phone calls, downloading dirty pictures, etc.

However, after a while, you notice something peculiar: it's never stated what all this typing, faxing and calling is actually supposed to accomplish. Often, their Pointy Haired Boss will nag them about nonspecific "reports" or "contracts" that they're presumably late on.

The reason for this genericness is likely to reach as wide a range of the audience as possible.

Examples

  • Too many advertisements involving work to count.
  • The father, Darryl MacPherson, in Baby Blues. He's called a "manager," but his department is never mentioned.'
  • Dagwood from Blondie is constantly nagged by his boss Dithers about "contracts," but as for what those contracts are for or what he does with them? Nada.
  • This was parodied in an episode of Spongebob Squarepants, where Spongebob and Patrick adopt a baby scallop. Patrick took the role of Standard Fifties Father and went to "work" every day in a suit, but at the end of the episode it's revealed that he just went to his old house and ate donuts and watched TV all day.
  • A running joke in Friends is that no one can accurately describe Chandler's job.
  • For a while Calvin's dad in Calvin And Hobbes had this job, but he was later specified as a patent attorney.
Community Feedback Replies: 17
  • September 25, 2011
    SKJAM
    A person with this job is a White Collar Worker.
  • September 25, 2011
    Micah
    • Bill Waterson discusses this trope in an annotated Calvin And Hobbes book, noting that while it often occurs in newspaper comics he decided to give Calvin's dad a specific job (patent attorney) because specificity is always funnier than generality.
  • September 25, 2011
    Auxdarastrix
    I'm not sure this trope is sufficiently distinguished from White Collar Worker, especially in the name. Maybe change it to be specifically about how fictional parents often have undefined jobs, and rename it accordingly. Or make it about any vaguely defined job, white collar or otherwise.
  • September 25, 2011
    foxley
    A running joke in Friends is that no one can ever name what Chandler's job is, or accurately describe what it involves.
  • September 26, 2011
    somerandomdude
    The key to this trope is that their actual job is never really defined. The job of a White Collar Worker is often defined; analysts and accountants are common.

    In its current form it's a subtrope of White Collar Worker, but broadening it is a possibility.
  • September 26, 2011
    Topazan
    • Played For Laughs in That70s Show. It's 'take your child to work' day, and everyone has to spend a day at their parent's workplace and write a report on their job. Kelso spends most of the day trying to understand what his father actually does, and after listening to one vague and confusing explanation after another, decides to just pretend his dad's a farmer for the report.
  • September 26, 2011
    Irrisia
    Played for laughs in Homestuck, where John goes into a Heroic BSOD when he discovers his dad is some kind of boring unspecified office worker, rather than a street corner clown.
  • September 26, 2011
    TrustBen
    Hi and Thirsty from Hi And Lois both work for Foofram Inc, but the known specifics of their jobs are limited to "sitting at a desk."
  • September 26, 2011
    lebrel
    I'm seeing a lot of overlap with What Exactly Is His Job.
  • September 26, 2011
    Micah
    I think What Exactly Is His Job has trope-decayed into overlap with this. Going by the description, the "job" in the title means "plot role", not "place of employment", but the quote and a bunch of the examples suggest otherwise.
  • September 26, 2011
    DaibhidC
    • Daddy Pig in Peppa Pig works in an office. His job is literally rubber-stamping documents. A collegue's job is "using a computer". That's all we get.
  • September 26, 2011
    foxley
    On Rugrats, Chuckie knows that his father's job involves 'pushing paper' and imagines that it involves pushing huge stacks of paper around with a broom. Justified in that a toddler would have no idea what an office job involved. Of course, the viewer also has no idea what Chaz's actual job is either.
  • September 27, 2011
    Chabal2
    Roger Fox from Foxtrot. How important his job is is unclear, he is often summoned by his boss, but is incapable of dealing with a computer.
  • September 27, 2011
    KamenZero
    How about Dilbert? I don't read regularly, but I never see any mentions of the job Dilbert does, just that he does stuff. I could be wrong, though
  • September 27, 2011
    c0ry
    Dilbert is most definitely a computer programmer.
  • September 27, 2011
    packardcaribien
    They call Dilbert an engineer, but I suppose that means a Software Engineer. If they haven't mentioned it in the comic, It was certainly apparent in the series.
  • September 27, 2011
    foxley
    Dilbert is definitely referred to as a software engineer in the strip. When he calls himself an engineer, his mother asks if he builds bridges or drives trains. What the company he works for does is more of a mystery.

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