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‘The Office’ and the Value of Work

This post was written by Candice DiLavore, program assistant at Reclaim New York and former Values & Capitalism intern.

Recently, I re-watched “The Office” (U.S. version). Even though I have seen every episode multiple times, I still found myself laughing during all of the awkward silences created by Michael Scott. I laughed as Dwight took himself too seriously. I laughed whenever Jim pranked Dwight. In other words, I laughed a lot.

This time around, however, I was particularly moved by Jim Halpert’s storyline. Not because he is a funny character or a romantic character, but because his character, over the course of nine seasons, learned the value of work.

When viewers first met Jim Halpert in season one, he hated his job. “My job is to speak to clients on the phone about, uh . . .  quantities and type of copier paper. You know, whether we can supply it to them. Whether they can, uh, pay for it . . ..  I’m boring myself just talking about it.”

At the end of season nine, Jim Halpert had a very different opinion about his time with Dunder Mifflin Paper Company, “I sold paper at this company for twelve years. My job was to speak to clients on the phone about quantities and types of copier paper. Even if I didn’t love every minute of it, everything I have I owe to this job. This stupid, wonderful, boring, amazing job.”

“When a job is not particularly exciting, it is so easy to miss the merit in the mundane.”

When Jim reflects on his time at Dunder Mifflin at the end of the show, he’s not struck by nostalgia—he genuinely appreciates the twelve years he spent working for that company. His job as a paper salesman allowed him to save money, buy a home, start a family, and eventually become an entrepreneur who helps start a sports marketing company.

When a job is not particularly exciting, it is so easy to miss the merit in the mundane. But there is merit. That seemingly mundane work Jim did for all of those years created a network and the opportunity for him to pursue work he was passionate about.

Although Jim Halpert is just a fictional character, his struggle with a job he was not passionate about is relatable for so many. Just because a job does not offer glory does not mean it’s not important.

  • Nate Russell

    I love this post! I’ve experienced this same exact thing at plenty of my jobs, including McDonald’s and factories. Whenever I find myself thinking negatively about my current situation, the only thing that helps is looking at the big picture and realizing this job is my opportunity to accomplish bigger and better things like getting through college and into a more enjoyable career! Thanks for the post.

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