Pen Pushing President
Being in charge mostly means signing and stamping mountains of papers.
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(permanent link) added: 2012-11-06 11:34:44 sponsor: Lyendith (last reply: 2012-11-24 06:45:24)

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Who didn't dream to one day be appointed President of a country, executive of a big company, or leader of a big organisation? You can give orders, have a pretty life, and have the most important and spotlight-earning jobs! You can be a hero and a model!

And now that you have won the election, here is a pen and a stamp: warm up your arm, 'cause from now on you will use them a lot. Apparently, the main activity of people in charge is to spend their days with a desk and giant piles of papers as only company. Of course it is Truth in Television to some extent (notably in law-related responsibilities), but naturally, in fiction it tends to be exaggerated to the point of torture. Expect some secretary to occasionally show up in the office with an additional pile, to the dismay of their boss. Usually Played for Laughs to show a less glamourous side of leadership.

Despite the title, it can apply to "Presidents" but also to any job involving some kind of important leadership.

Can be the reason for someone being Kicked Upstairs. May result in Trash of the Titans if disorder comes on top of quantity.

Examples:

Anime & Manga:
  • King Enma in Dragon Ball, as the man in charge of deciding who will go to Heaven or Hell in the entire universe is usually shown chain-stamping files without so much as looking at them, while complaining about his insane amount of work.
  • In Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, Simon has this kind of life in the second part of the story, as President of all humans on the surface. Well, before shit happens at least…
  • Hanaukyō Maid Tai. In one episode Taro finds that one of his daily duties as head of the family is going through a huge pile of paperwork and signing documents.
  • The Hokage is sometimes portrayed like this in Naruto, including Tsunade after she assumed the role. They are by definition one of the strongest fighters in their village, but their job is mostly to assign missions rather than go on them.
  • Etna from Disgaea becomes this in the anime after becoming Overlord. It's hilarious considering her normal personality

Comic Strip

Film
  • In Bruce Almighty, when Bruce is made God for a Day, he is suddenly confronted with the prayers of millions of people--which are presented in one scene as a massive layer of "Post-It" notes covering every wall and surface in his home. He then clears the clutter by instantly converting them to an e-mail format on his computer ("You've got prayers!").

Literature
  • In Rainbow Six, John Clark laments that he's a bureaucrat and not an elite counter-terrorism soldier like his men. Rainbow jumps out of helicopters and trains to put bullets between eyes with perfect accuracy, Rainbow Six sits at his desk and has to justify the dollar value of each bullet.
  • Sam Vimes spends a few Discworld City Watch books lamenting the piles of paperwork he's obliged to deal with as its Commander. Eventually averted when he recruits some secretarial help, first from the Gooseberry-imp and then from A.E. Pessimal.
    • Averted by Archchancellor Ridcully, who just lets the paperwork pile up on his desk, periodically bins it, and assumes that if anything is really important someone will start shouting soon enough.
  • In Captain Vorpatril's Alliance, Ivan notes that while many people are envious of Emperor Gregor Vorbarra's power, he's never heard of anyone being envious of Gregor's desk.

Live-Action TV
  • The Stargate SG-1 episodes "Zero Hour" and "Lockdown" played this for laughs as Jack O'Neill settled into his new job as commanding officer of Stargate Command. Both episodes featured an instance of sorting through piles of reports and memos to find something.
  • This is the basic concept of Yes, Minister and sequels.

Video Games

Visual Novels:

Western Animation
  • In Ren and Stimpy, when Ren becomes president of Stimpy's fan club, this is all he does, and it leads him to have a mental breakdown.
  • Commander Nebular from Buzz Lightyear of Star Command, due to being the Space Ranger's commander, is forced to constantly do paperwork by his robotic desk.
  • The Simpsons Movie: The President is dissapointed that, instead of leading the country, he is forced to spend his days signing papers and approving motions.

Real Life
  • In the military, this is often mockingly referred to as a "Chairborne Ranger", a high-ranked officer who spends his days behind a desk in a cozy office yet pretends to know how life is on the frontlines.
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