This post was inspired by my overly emotional editor, @StephGless, who has a knack for crying, cutting onions getting dust in her eyes at work. She actually loves her job, but her stress levels are a real roller coaster ride…which got me thinking.

One of my favorite movies of all time, Shawshank Redemption, is also a loose metaphor for Corporate America/cubicle life. Bear with me if you think that sounds insanely moronic. If you haven’t seen Shawshank…I feel bad for you…go watch it now, I’ll wait here.

Before we move on, I want it to be known, I was extremely ecstatic when I was offered my first full time job. I felt like a grown up who was ready to take over the world. I know some people would kill for a job they hate due to financial reasons. However, I quickly learned and realized that sitting at a desk for 8 hours a day was not for me. It felt like a punishment of sorts. I felt like I was destined for bigger, better things.

I know there are plenty of people who LOVE their jobs, but if I had to guess, the vast majority or people 21-30, aren’t too crazy about sitting at a desk all day. We go from college, where we have all the freedom in the world, to the most structured setting possible, which leaves very little time for doing anything you ACTUALLY want to do.

I was commuting 30-45 minutes both ways in wonderful Atlanta traffic, dealing with numerous near death experiences on 285 and Roswell Rd (the scariest road in the world). By the time I actually got home, all I wanted to do was eat and sleep. It sucked, it was unhealthy and it made me unpleasant to be around. Not to mention a 9-5 job is no longer a 9-5 job. People are constantly emailing, texting, and calling. You can’t really say no to your boss, so you suck it up and deal.

In Shawshank Redemption, the protagonist, Andy Dufresne, a well to do and very smart banker, is sent to Shawshank for murder. Andy got gangsta’ on his wife after finding her with another dude. He knows he isn’t meant for this kinda lifestyle, he knows he is different from everyone else there, and he knows he needs to get out. He bides his time, he deals with an enormous amount of hardship (the warden, guard Hadley, “the sisters”, and much more), and waits for the right time to leave.

“Andy crawled to freedom through five hundred yards of shit smelling foulness I can’t even imagine, or maybe I just don’t want to. Five hundred yards… that’s the length of five football fields, just shy of half a mile.”

My “crawl” wasn’t as dramatic…I kinda just walked out the front door. However, I feel like our age group puts up with a lot of crap in the workplace because, well, we kinda have to. The job market blows, we need money to survive, and there are a million other people who would love to be in those positions.

While I didn’t commit any crimes to earn my sentence to cubicleville, my world was quickly turned upside down. My dad has worked for the same company for 35 a MILLION years. I had that image in my mind of, HOLY CRAP, I HAVE TO DO THIS THE REST OF MY LIFE. Money didn’t even seem important at that point. I wanted to make a ton of money, but quality of life became more important.

This is basically what I felt like when I walked out of the office on my last day, minus the dramatic rain and taking my shirt off.

There are a lot of quotes from Shawshank that relate well to getting into a better situation. You gotta be at this place 40 hours/week…FORTY! That is nuts. Make sure it’s somewhere you at least enjoy going to a little bit.

“Get busy living or get busy dying.”

This one is pretty simple. If you are unhappy in your situation, whether it be job, relationship, life in general….MAKE A CHANGE! Life’s short — cliche but true. It’s not worth it to be unhappy, so take the appropriate steps to change your situation or make yourself happier.

“Fear can hold you prisoner. Hope can set you free.”

This one is definitely representative of my situation. I was fearful of the unknown. I had the warm blanket of corporate america draped over me. A steady paycheck, benefits, free office supplies! However, as lame as it sounds, the hope and excitement of the unknown and knowing that there was something better out there is what ultimately set me free.

“We only get one chance at today boys” –Pat Dosh

A good friend of mine has instilled this thought in my mind. He’s usually yelling it at the top of his lungs Friday and Saturday nights at The Ivy, but it’s pretty accurate. We get one shot at today, we get one shot at life, make it count, be happy, do what feels right, and push the bad away.

Do you agree with anything I just said? Do you think I’m nuts for comparing Shawshank Redemption to Corporate America? Let me know in the comments or Tweet me @DannyWeiner!


  • ryan johns

    Andy did not commit the murder man. If you remember correctly he was convicted on circumstantial evidence. Elmo Blatch was the guy that murdered his wife.

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