Working nine to five, what a way to make a living
A modern office employee. The name derives from workplace dress codes in the mid-20th Century; factory laborers typically wore blue work shirts, jumpsuits, or other uniforms, while managers and technical or professional staff wore white business shirts and ties.
As office machinery such as the typewriter, adding machine, mimeograph etc. became available starting in the latter half of the Nineteenth Century, clerical workers began shifting their skill sets from the Clerk
to the modern White Collar Worker. In particular, many women joined the workforce, though they tended to be stuck in the lower-ranked and lower-paying "pink collar" office jobs. (This last has improved over the decades.)
The White Collar Worker is a staple of the Work Com
, but can be found in any work of fiction that requires office scenes. Subtypes of the White Collar Worker include Workaholic
and Sassy Secretary
The natural habitat of the White Collar Worker is the office cubicle. Their natural enemies include bosses of all kinds except "benevolent
" and their more obnoxious co-workers. As for their work...well, white collar jobs are kind of boring to look at most of the time, and one set of paperwork looks much like another. So the details of the work are usually not examined closely. Indeed, often the exact position or job description of the characters will deliberately be left vague. This gives greater plot flexibility, especially when the Pointy-Haired Boss
decides to give the hero some wacky project that would seem to have little to do with the job, normally.
Compare their Japanese counterparts, the Salaryman
and Office Lady
- The weather reporter in Calvin and Hobbes: The Series is fed up with his job.
"And now that that's all done with, please enjoy this song from Lonestar, while I sit in my little cubicle, only being paid minimum wage to tell you ungrateful fools this stuff!"
- Most of the cast of 9 to 5. The heroines are stuck in "pink-collar" positions.
- Office Space; the characters are mostly computer programmers.
- The narrator in Fight Club, though he actually goes into detail about his job and is seen doing it.
- Mr. Incredible becomes one of these after the Super Registration Act. He hates it there.
- Italian Black Comedy movie series Fantozzi has the titular Butt Monkey-slash-Chew Toy protagonist, Ugo Fantozzi, showing very clearly to be one, to the point the movie series is mostly known in English languages as White Collar Blues.
- The 2010 independent film Drones, where office employees are frequently compared to bees (hence the title). The main character finds out that several of his coworkers are aliens working undercover.
- Working Girl is a perfect example of this trope.
- The Crowd : A very early film example, showing the main character at his desk.
- Vernon Dursley in Harry Potter appears to be something in middle management rather than a mere drone, and probably not a very good one, but close enough; the line between the two sometimes gets a bit blurry anyway.
- Adam Cassidy in Paranoia works as one in the start of the book, with his injustice at the company executive's excesses and his endless boredom causing him to pull off a huge prank that puts him into the position of being blackmailed for the rest of the book to do the CEO's bidding and engage in corporate espionage.
- Most of the cast of The Office, both British and American versions. Unlike some of the other examples here, we do know Wernham-Hogg/Dunder Mifflin's business: they sell paper.
- However, that fact is, at the end of the day, more or less irrelevant to the story, as evidenced by the fact that the German equivalent, Stromberg, is set at an insurance firm, with essentially no change to the dynamics or humor of the show (except being much more German).
- For the first seven years of Friends, Chandler Bing worked an unstated office job at an unknown company. Even Rachel and Monica don't know what he does. Whatever it was, he was important enough to have his own office.
- He started (in the first season) in a cubicle processing data related to resource utilization, and was soon promoted to a supervisory position in the same company and department.
- Drew Carey and his co-workers on his show.
- That '70s Show had an episode in which Kelso's father attempts to explain precisely what his job entails. It becomes depressingly evident that even he isn't sure anymore.
- The cast of the Fred Savage show Working, which not only left the workers' positions and duties vague, but never explained what, if anything, the company did.
- Better Off Ted has Veridian Dynamics, which appears to do or own another company that does almost anything. Most of the characters in the show work in the research and development department though.
- In the Italian Black Comedy Work Com Caméra café, many characters are borderline workaholics, with Silvano being the most obvious example.
- Ditto Dilbert. He's also a software engineer.
- The father of the family in Weesh; another one who's lost track of what precisely it is he does.