Worst Fictional Workplaces

After reading Startup and looking back over my past jobs, I started to think about all of the horrible workplaces I’ve read about in books.  I compiled a list of some of the worst ones below based on recent books I’ve read. 

(The picture above shows Chomper, who already retired and moved to Florida.)

  1. TechScene, a tech news site, and TakeOff, a wellness app startup, in Startup by Doree Shafrir.  Both TechScene and TakeOff were rife with casual sexism, an overinflated sense of importance, and way too much pretentiousness.
  2. Miller Shanks, a London ad agency, in e. by Matt Beaumont.  While this book gives a hilarious look at a dysfunctional ad agency in early 2000, I don’t think I would be laughing half as much if my paycheck depended on any of the crazy characters working at Miller Shanks.
  3. A local paper in 1920’s Barcelona in The Angel’s Game by Carlos Ruiz Zafón.  David Martin’s first job writing penny dreadfuls for a dying newspaper and earning the disdain of his fellow colleagues doesn’t seem like a great gig (although it was probably still better than my first job at McDonald’s).
  4. A New York vineyard in Dead Letters by Caite Dolan-Leach .  I still don’t know how Zelda was able to run her insane family’s winery and deal with her spiteful mother as long as she did.  I don’t blame Ava for skipping off to Paris, but I wish Zelda had done the same.
  5. An admissions office for a top NYC prep school in Small Admissions by Amy Poeppel.  Oh my god, those parents.  And their kids.  I would have quit before my first day.
  6. Your mother’s small town bar in The Flood Girls by Richard Fifield.  Working at your mother’s bar when she hates you, while back in your old hometown where 955 of the 956 residents hate you, is not a healthy work environment.
  7. A state political campaign in The Hopefuls by Jennifer Close.  Volunteering for free on your friend’s campaign, relocating from D.C. to Texas, and working for your increasingly distant, competitive, and stressed husband who is the campaign manager?  I’ll pass. 
  8. A personal assistant/chef for B-list stars in Oh! You Pretty Things by Shanna Mahin.  Any job as an assistant where you get “hazard pay” can’t be good.  Never mind one that requires propping up an actress’s fragile ego and getting caught up in her weird, Mean Girls-like games.
  9. A Chicago ad agency in Then We Came to the End by Joshua Ferris.  Another unforgettable cast of characters at an ad agency, including the annoying coworkers that I swear might be modeled off of some of the people at my office.  Its not as funny when you add in the looming threat of lay-offs into the mix, though.
  10. Despite it not being a recent read for me, I can’t leave Runway from The Devil Wears Prada by Lauren Weisberger off this list for obvious reasons.

Any horrible workplaces you’ve read about recently that aren’t on this list?  Feel free to comment!


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