Sorry Holly, at Dunder-Mifflin, middle school’s not over. Although in middle school, there isn’t nearly as much work-related sexual activity going on. In tonight’s episode of The Office, we learned that Meredith has apparently been prostituting herself with the Hammermill paper rep in exchange for a discount on supplies and steak coupons. To quote Pam, “Wow.”
The episode began with Jim announcing that he and Pam are engaged. The responses from the staff varied quite a bit. Oscar thought they were already engaged. Angela responded to that by clarifying that it was Roy she was engaged to. Andy wasn’t happy that the engagement came so close on the heels of his and Angela’s engagement. Kevin asked if he had to buy them a gift, believing his gift-giving obligation might have been fulfilled during Pam’s previous engagement. And Dwight made sure to mention that Pam’s not a virgin. Yeah, nothing too surprising here. The awkwardness that the announcement brought on was swallowed up when an overjoyed Michael tackled Jim to the ground, leaving speaker-phone-Pam to utter a small apology.
Holly was all set to run her first meeting at the Scranton Branch. She said it’d be “In-Sane!” and she wasn’t wrong. The subject of the meeting was business ethics, which likely had to do with the whole Ryan fiasco. Newly-temped Ryan stood up to clear the air and after expressing some regret over his lack of ethics, he ended up going off on a tangent about hooking up with some Survivor-contestant lookalike when he was in New York. So I guess that evens things out for him in terms of the whole corporate experience.
Holly went down a list of things that are considered unethical in the workplace. She brought up making personal calls on company time and Kelly responded by asking why it’s fair for smokers to take time out to have a cigarette. Having worked in an office environment for years, this is an actual argument that I’ve heard on more than one occasion. As is always the case at these sort of meetings at DM, the group got off topic. Oscar brought up how this isn’t really an ethics discussion, so much as it is just corporate junk that they’re all being subjected to. Andy responded to this by raising an actual ethics question about stealing bread to feed your family. He then admitted to taking Intro to Ethics twice (which means he probably failed it the first time around). Then semi-out of nowhere, Dwight counters Andy’s question by saying the bread is poisoned and that “you’ve been cuckolded but a stronger, smarter male.” Andy didn’t get what Dwight was talking about but we did and judging by the look on her face, so did Angela.
Michael encouraged the staff to admit to some of the things they might have done at the office that might not be all that ethical. He claimed they’d have immunity, so Kelly spoke up saying she sometimes downloaded pirated music on her office computer and Angela fessed up to reporting Oscar to the INS. Then Meredith dropped a doosy on us. She’s apparently been sleeping with Bruce Meyers, the Scranton rep for Hammermill paper in exchange for a discount on supplies and coupons to Outback Steakhouse. I’m sure both Hammermill Paper and Outback are pleased with the free product-endorsement here. In Jim’s words, “Jackpot.”
Holly obviously couldn’t let go of this admission and despite Michael’s efforts to brush it under the rug, she interrogates Meredith about it. Meredith did nothing to downplay what she’s been doing (once a month for six years). She said she didn’t really enjoy the liaisons with the Hammermill guy though she does get a sense of personal gratification from the exchange of goods and services.
Michael used Holly’s insistence on handling the Meredith situation to his advantage by inviting her out to lunch to discuss the matter further. He took her to some tacky sea-themed restaurant shaped like a lighthouse and decorated with things like pirate statues. The meeting didn’t go well in terms of Michael’s attempt to get closer to Holly or Holly’s attempt to resolve the Meredith thing. Michael also managed to throw out two of Holly's meals (the lunch she purchased prior to him asking her out, and her leftovers later). That woman needs to start keeping a list of things of hers that Michaels thrown away (including a perfectly good pair of Counting Crows concert tickets in addition to food).
Holly submitted a full report to corporate and their response was to essentially tell her that with how things are on the "balance sheet," now isn’t the best time for them to give up such a great discount. In other words, if one of their employees wants to give up sexual favors in exchange for a discount on supplies, they’re not going to fire her for it. Again, to quote Pam, “Wow.” The rest of the staff seemed just as indifferent towards Meredith’s “deal,” as they benefited from it with a nice free lunch from Outback.
Michael made things better with Holly at the end of the episode when Holly failed to rally the staff back into the conference room to finish the Ethics meeting. Everyone was ready to leave and it was only after Michael screamed at them to get in the conference room that they finally conceded.
Meanwhile, Jim found a good way to waste company money/time. Rather than working, he decided to log all of the personal time Dwight’s uses. After Dwight made a remark about not ever doing personal things on company time during the Ethics meeting, Jim took it upon himself to prove Dwight wrong. He kept a stopwatch out and started timing Dwight every time he stopped working. Whether it was a yawn or to argue with Jim about what he was doing with the stop watch, Jim clocked it.
Dwight made an effort to avoid doing anything non-work-related. He even peed in an open soda bottle under the desk while filling out a report. Gross. I wish I could say this was the first time Dwight’s urinated in a soft drink container but we all know that’s not true. Jim eventually had to resort to temping Dwight into breaking his work-only mode. When Dwight was in earshot, Jim struck up a conversation with Andy about a recent episode of Battlestar Galactica. In addition to saying the show is just “so so,” (blasphemy!!!) he also brought up wookies, Mordor and Dumbledore when referencing the episode, tapping into some of Dwight’s other known favorites. It was all Dwight could do not to interject. The real laugh came when Andy, who was obviously clueless as to what was going on, said “That doesn’t sound right…”
Now it needs to be said that when Dwight claimed he never did personal things on company time, the first thought that came to mind was all of the time he’s been spending with Angela in the warehouse as of late. I’m pretty sure having sex with another employee on company time, on company property falls under the whole “unethical” thing. Let’s forget that the woman he’s getting it on with is engaged to another employee. Sure enough, according to Jim’s log, Dwight spent 19 minutes and 48 seconds away from his desk, doing something of a personal nature. Cut to Angela buttoning up her shirt. Dwight had less of a hard time admitting that he’s not completely ethical after that.
It’s amazing to me that in this series’ fifth season, the writers are still able to come up with actual office-related issues to address on the show. What’s more, they do such a great job of twisting the issue around to point out everything that’s wrong with the Dunder-Mifflin Scranton Branch… all of which makes up most of what’s great about The Office.