Go Mad: 5 Ways Your Workplace Can Learn from Mad Men

BEFORE CUBICLES, NSFW SITES, AND POLITICAL CORRECTNESS, the office was a daily exercise in escapism, a place to forget about one’s family, a way to move away from the industrial and into the Space Age.

Oh sure, misogyny was rampant and if you weren’t a white upper middle class Christian male your chances of success were equal to that of a dyslexic spider monkey. But overt discrimination aside, that era’s workplace had what ours greatly misses: Class, liquor, and afternoon delights.

Last night, AMC’s acclaimed TV series returned with Don Draper and his merry cast of ad men, a cultural phenomenon and the cool kids’ new favorite TV show following in the footsteps of The SopranosThe Wire, and Reba. Mad Men parties were thrown around the country, where in fantasy, men and women dressed to the nines celebrated their grandparents’ workplaces for everything that theirs aren’t: Drink, sexual escapades, great suits and Brylcreem. But as thisMonday morning rolled around, and folks woke up to Sloe Gin Fizz hangovers and skinny ties wrapped around their genitals, everyone’s lives returned to normal.

But why return to normal? Here’s 5 habits your workplace can stand to learn from Mad Men.

1. Suit Up

It’s become completely acceptable to wear soiled jeans and an untucked golf shirt to work. What started in the 90s as ‘Casual Fridays’ has evolved into ‘Wearing Whatever the Hell You Want Even If it’s Got a Stain Everydays.’ Even corporate offices are a George Costanza fashion show, now. How can anything get done if we’re all going to the office looking like out-of-work Lululemon models? You wonder why we’re in a recession. Get yourself a new business attire, and not from the outlet mall on I5 next to the Applebees. Go get a hair cut that costs more than twelve dollars. Shave at least twice daily, and ladies, I’m talking to you too. Stubble doesn’t discriminate between the sexes. And for the love of Sterling Cooper, if your workplace insists on a Casual Friday get yourself a cardigan and a pipe.

2. Dress the Set

Remember, Mad Men is a TV show. They’re not really drinking 8 tumblers of scotch and smoking 6 packs of cigarettes a day in the back of a vintage furniture store. But they appear to be, and they’re looking cooler than you doing it while having an A1 time of it. So treat your office like a set. Move in some eclectic furniture. Have open packs of Luckys everywhere. Buy yourself a smoke machine. Fill liquor decanters with apple juice, and always have a full tumbler in your hand. Play jazz from the moment you enter the office until the moment you leave. And at least once a day, open the door to your office and scream: “Kennedy’s been shot!” Or “Castro backed down!” Or “the Russians are coming!”

3. Smack that Ass

Look. Somewhere along the line we lost our way. We’ve gotten overwhelmed with prudish political correctness. It’s high time we put some stank in the workplace! What’s the point of having a hierarchy if you can’t occasionally sexually harass your subordinates? From now on, treat your office like a baseball fantasy camp. Every time someone does something well, pat’em hard on the backside. Someone walks by you in the hallway, give’em a good ole spanking. Your secretary brings you your morning coffee, smack that ass!

4. Liquor Up

Okay, forget what was written in number two about apple juice. That was BS. It’s high time you started getting drunk at work. Take the “can’t” out of decanter and de’er right. And get some scotch in the office. A happy workplace is a productive workplace, and drinking makes people happy. Don Draper is drunk from the moment he gets to the office, through his afternoon nap, and straight on into the evening. And he owns a Cadillac and loves up on beautiful ladies! Do you own a Cadillac and love up on beautiful ladies? Exactly.

5. Commit a Little Infidelity

Why do the workers on Mad Men look so cool and seem so happy, even with the fear of nuclear holocaust, sexual equality, and the Vietnam conflict on the horizon? It’s because if they’re not drinking, or smoking, or finding new ways to sell tampons, they’re having sex. Massive amounts of unprotected, edge-of-the-sexual revolution, adulterous, filthy-with-a-sidecar-of-dirty, on-the-boss’-desk-after-hours-listening-to-Charlie-Parker loud sex.

It’s the reason that Don Draper is a creative genius and gets to spend so many nights in luxury hotels after being kicked out by his wife Betty, why Pete Campbell has an illegitimate child he doesn’t know about and is unable to father one with his wife, why Joan gets to boss around all the other secretaries while wearing outfits that would make a transvestite Dolly Parton impersonator blush, and the reason Peggy Olson enjoyed a wonderful extended stay at St. Mary’s on the brink of insanity after popping out Pete’s love/date rape baby.

There’s no recession or union work actions on Mad Men, as there? And the reason for that is promiscuous sexual encounters devoid of respect for the union of marriage or morality. Get this going on in your office, and you’ll experience not just a growth in your pants, but a fiscal growth as well. But this is not 1965. So wear a condom. Not all growths are good.

Mike Spry is the author of JACK (Snare Books, 2008), which was shortlisted for the 2009 Quebec Writers’ Federation A.M. Klein Prize for Poetry, and he was longlisted for the 2010 Journey Prize. His most recent work is Distillery Songs (Insomniac Press, 2011).

Illustration by Lasse Mathiesen Køhlert. Check out his work here and here.

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