26 May 2008

welcome aboard (and other intra-office maritime references)

(Working in corporate America is bizarre for me. Having spent the great majority of my adult working life either slinging coffee at Starbucks or slinging peanut-butter and jam sandwiches at starving African kids in Johannesburg, this whole office environment is a little weird to me. This week, I’ll share a few of the many stories that are emanating from my time as a corporate lemming.)

Part 1: Welcome Aboard…

Why are we in corporate America so stuck on maritime metaphors? When I started my job here at the office, I probably met 694 people in three days. And I would bet that 687 of those people gave me a handshake, a smile, and a hearty “welcome aboard”.

Welcome aboard? Ok… I work in a cubicle, not on the poop deck, right? Some of the classier office folks told me that it is “great to have you on board”. That is no better. For the sake my sanity, can I call an official moratorium on sea-faring greetings in the workplace? Please?

No more “Jim reeled in another big client.”
No more “Martinez had to walk the plank on Friday – at least he got severance.”
No more “Shipping out”.
No more “Steering the company”.
No more…

I am half-tempted to just go all out with the theme and start referring to everything with its maritime equivalent.

My boss could become “the captain”.
I would no longer work on the northside of the building, I would be stationed on “the bow”.
Accounting (including Ted from Accounting who you’ll hear more about another day) would be on the “starboard side”.
I could start calling my co-workers “matey” and “scallywag”.
I could use the “galley” down in the “hull” instead of the breakroom.
The CEO could always be referred to as “manning the rudder”.

This could go on all day – and maybe only then would the world see just how annoying this whole trend is.

So, lemmings of corporate America, let me set you straight: You are not pirates or sailors or explorers. Using terminology that any of those folks might use does not either make your job more exciting or make your daily vocation any more adventurous than it really is. You sit at a desk, type things, and look forward to casual Friday. Let’s admit that and just move on. Stop pretending to be on a ship and stop welcoming people aboard.



  1. LOL... I seriously think you should start easing all that into daily conversation...start with "ahoy" whenever you greet someone. People will think its kind of cool and eccentric...then really slowly work in the other phrases. Soon you will be yaarrrr-ing all over the office!

  2. do it! though at the risk of sounding too bloodthirsty and uncivilized, I might leave out the pirate-specific ones. plus, this way people will always remember you!

    it does make sense though, all the nautical references - everyone really is "in the same boat" and you either "sink or swim" together... trapped in the same room for the majority of each others waking hours... and I imagine all those motivation speakers have helped dissuade the notion.

  3. George & I laughed out loud. Thanks for sharing -- we've all been there!

    You could also go on and on about being a part of the "team."