Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Russell Wiley Made Me Laugh...And Cringe

Russell Wiley Is Out To Lunch
Richard Hine

Russell Wiley Is Out To Lunch made me laugh out loud.  Reading the story of Russell Wiley, trying to survive the downward spiral that is the daily business paper that employs him, was almost like watching an episode of The Office.

Russell Wiley's daily paper is facing a do or die fight for survival.  Politics run rampant through the office. Loyalty is tantamount.  Russell's trying to keep his job, and the jobs of his team, safe.  He's got a bit of a crush on a co-worker. And he's writing astute business articles under a pseudonym.  On the home front, things aren't much better. He and his wife are in a dry spell, and no matter what he tries, Russell can't seem to connect with her. Add to this mix the arrival of the Process Consultant to save the day, and Russell feels as though he might drown.  Until he comes up with his own fail proof plan for survival.

But I also have to tell you about what made me cringe in this story.  And cringe in a good way.  See, I've been that Process Consultant (capitalized here much like Superman might be).  I've been perceived like this Judd has. And I've seen the political office game be played.  The cringing comes from those situations that are so realistic, you know you've been in them, you know what's coming, and you're powerless to stop it, but you're still compelled to watch it unfold. 

Like so many of us, Russell started out young and idealistic, intent on changing the world. Fast forward fifteen years, and Russell is like so many of us formerly young and idealistic kids- schlepping away in a middle management job that doesn't excite him. He's somewhat loath to change his circumstances- there's security, change is hard, and do we really have it in us once we hit our mid-thirties to still change the world?

But you can see in Russell's articles- written under a pen name, and often taking a scathing job at the failings of his own employer- that he has a real passion existing deep within him.  He's frustrated with where his life is, both personally and professionally, and he's desperate for something, anything, to happen.  He gets, in many ways, more than he bargained for.

I found Russell Wiley Is Out To Lunch to be witty and snarky.  I recognized so many of the people and the circumstances as I read through the book, and I found myself cheering for Russell Wiley.

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