There's a great line by Michael Scott at the end of Thursday night's episode, as he, Oscar, Andy and Dwight are sprinting out of the Dunder-Mifflin shareholders' meeting to steal a limo from a company executive.
Anyone who has suffered through this recession working for — or getting laid off by — a company top-heavy with senior management and short on survival strategies had to cheer Michael's explanation for claiming a fat cat's ride back to Scranton.
"Limos are for people who make the company money, not lose millions and have no plan," Michael says.
I can think of at least a few real-world parallels to cite here from the newspaper industry, but I think I'll pull an Oscar and keep my mouth shut. I don't want to tempt the boss to move my cubicle into a coat closet with no Internet service.
As inconsistent as this show has become, when The Office still works, Michael Scott can careen from buffoon to truth-teller and back in one episode. He's still a boob who rehearses his wave and twirl after the company invites him, as the sole branch manager turning a profit, to New York City for the shareholders' meeting.
It never occurs to Michael, who brings along his Scranton posse of Andy, Dwight and Oscar to New York in the limo the cash-strapped company sent for him, that he shouldn't whisper questions into his live microphone about Dunder-Mifflin going bankrupt. And sure, his desperate need to win over the angry shareholders leads him to promise them a 45-day plan to fix the company and go carbon-neutral.
"Day 45, company saved. Day 44, go! What do we got?" Michael asks the company executives during break in the meeting.
But when Dunder-Mifflin's CEO belittles Michael and demands "Where's the off button on this moron?" Michael morphs into Michael Moore. (Or at least into a better-dressed version armed with the pride that comes with winning 17 'Dundee' awards.)
"You're the moron," Michael fires back.
The room is full of overpaid, overfed company executives who have never known the glory of the Scranton branch's annual employee awards, doled out in the back room of a Chili's, and they don't want to hear Michael's pep talk. Dunder-Mufflin's CEO, unaccustomed to being called a moron, tells CFO David Wallace that Michael's backtalk has earned him a bus ride back to Scranton, forget the limo.
But he wasn't counting on Michael snaking a limo from outside the hotel, and as the Scranton crew pulls away, a stock ticker flashing outside shows that Dunder Mifflin's stock — DMI, or "Dummies, Morons and Idiots, because that's what you'd have to be to own it," according to Oscar — is down almost another 7 points.
Back in Scranton, Jim is flexing his co-manager muscles in an attempt to prove to his colleagues that he is too the boss. Apparently he strikes so little fear in them that Phyllis doesn't think twice about taking a two-hour lunch with her husband Bob Vance of Vance Refrigeration and then admitting to Jim that she's a little tipsy.
When he discovers that Ryan has been undermining his authority by telling everyone that Jim doesn't have as much power as Michael, Jim moves Ryan into the coat closet for some solitary confinement. With that subtle move, everyone else in the office snaps back to work.
Now that's management.