Bonehead co-worker is all too real
Amy Joyner - Greensboro News & Record
If you work in an office, chances are you know a T. John Dick.
He's a pompous, clueless company man more concerned with following silly procedures than with serving the customer. He's a klutz, a climber and a crackpot. But, boy, he's amusing.
Dick is the narrator of Augustus Gump's debut novel, "The Management secrets of T. John Dick." Imagine if the pointy haired Boss from Dilbert wrote his own version of "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People," and you have an idea of the type of facetious advice offered in "The Management Secrets of T. John Dick."
Still, it's a laugh-out-loud-funny book because Dick, though meant to be a parody of corporate wonks is all too real. (I unfortunately have worked with people just like him. No one at my current workplace, of course...)
Author Gump spent 15 years working as a product manager at electronic manufacturing companies in Europe and Hickory, North Carolina. And that apparently provided him plenty of fodder for his satirical account of life at the top of the corporate ladder.
The aptly named Dick is "an amalgam of all the boneheads I've worked with or for," the author has said. "I've been privileged to know some world class corporate bozos in my life. I don't believe I was unique in this."
T.J. Dick is the marketing manager, and later vice president, for Pumpex-SuperPumps in the fictitious Falling Rock, NC. The company makes industrial pumps, I think. I'm hazy on that because the narrator doesn't really know--or care, for that matter--about the products Pumpex actually manufactures. He's more concerned with the "big picture" and taking a long term view." Dick is also fixated on impressing his bosses with his golf game, his executive mansion and his clean office.
Dick is so focused on the big picture that he's oblivious to his employees' disdain for him, his wife's numerous affairs with construction workers and the complete joke he has become at the Pumpex plant.
As the book opens, Dick and several other Pumpex executives have just moved from Boston to North Carolina to oversee the merger with SuperPumps. SuperPumps was doing quite well until Dick and his crew arrived. The new guys renovated the building, spiffed up the executive restroom, painted the wall Pumpex purple and hung modern prints on them. But they provided little true leadership, effective management or professionalism.
Of course, T. John Dick would disagree.
His marketing department is the "beating heart of a forward-looking company," he says. He is a guy with a strategic mind, not someone wrapped up in details such as whether parts actually fit in Pumpex pumps. He truly believes that the bosses and employees are impressed with his vapid new mission statement and complicated meeting room reservation procedures. He believes himself to be a successful leader, citing such qualities as his ability to delegate and his ability to remain calm in stressful situations as proof.
Throughout the book, Dick finds himself in plenty of stressful situations--all of them self-induced. He inadvertently discloses that his boss' wife is being unfaithful. He accidentally kills one company president and locks another in the bathroom. He is discovered naked with a maintenance man during the company's annual sales meeting. He misbehaves at two business dinners and gets kicked out of restaurants. He winds up in the hospital emergency room after several workplace accidents and causes injuries to his wife and co-workers, too.
Just when it seems things can't get much worse at Pumpex-SuperPumps, T. John Dick makes it so.
If you work in an office, pick up a copy of this book. You'll definitely laugh. And you may cry too, because T. John Dick is too close to the truth.