In many ways, the opulent parties and narcissistic revelry found in The Great Gatsby are very similar to modern everyday life. If by “opulent parties and general revelry” you are referring to watching Netflix and going to bed at 9:30. In one way, though, Gatsby really is just like real life: all the characters you know and love from the book are located right in your office.
Jay Gatsby is… your boss.
Gatsby dedicated his life to the pursuit of a woman who, it turns out, wasn’t quite worth all the commotion. Oops! It’s like spending four years studying to be a space lawyer only to find out that not only is “space lawyer” not a viable profession (yet), but hold on, wait a second, there, Old Sport, you’ve accidentally gone insane.
Like Gatsby, your boss is an actual human—a human being who once had ambitions that didn’t include listening to your co-worker Raul complain about Carol from accounting’s Alanis Morissette volume control issues. Carol’s sensitive about her partial hearing loss, Raul! You Oughta Know that!
Nick Carraway is… your office enigma.
Every workplace has an employee who’s been with the company entirely too long. The type of person who might sometimes, apropos of nothing, ask you a question like, “What do you think happens when you die?” or “Which Full House character do you relate to most?” The Nick Carraway type specializes in observing and pondering. Office Enigmas stay clear of drama, mildly protest their forced involvement in pointless office endeavors like “Fun Socks Friday,” and employ the “Jim Halpert Look” when a coworker says something nonsensical.
Daisy Buchanan is…your office-adjacent irrational crush.
The Daisy Buchanans of the world are the near-strangers you idealize: “Handsome Coffee Shop Eye Contact Guy,” “Pretty Elevator Chit-Chat Girl,” “Funny Twitter Stranger Who Retweeted Your Simpsons Reference”—real people who are PERFECT, but only appear so because you don’t know anything about them. When expectations meet reality, it turns out that “Handsome Coffee Shop Eye Contact Guy” lists “Getting My Dance On” as his Facebook political affiliation, and “Pretty Elevator Chit-Chat Girl” is the proud mother of over 75 uniquely special guinea pigs, one of which is named Alfredo.
Jordan Baker is…your reminder of why office relationships suck.
You meet a Jordan Baker and think to yourself, “Wowza, this is one of the most interesting people in human history.” Then a month goes by and you think, “Hmm. How hasn’t somebody dropped an anvil on this person’s head yet?” Everybody falls in love with a Jordan Baker at some point in his life. “Death, taxes, and Jordan Baker”‘ is the state motto of Indiana. Okay, it’s not. The state motto of Indiana is “The Crossroads of America,” but I like mine better.
Most encounters with a Jordan Baker type can be summed up by this line from The Great Gatsby: “Angry, and half in love with her, and tremendously sorry, I turned away.” Jordan Baker: great in theory, but maddening in reality.
Tom Buchanan is…your office frenemy.
In a very real way I empathize with the Office Frenemy. I don’t necessarily want to go bowling with him or get together for an after-work cocktail and sing “That’s What Friends Are For,” even though I’m quite fond of both that song and friendship, but I understand his thinking. The main objective of the Office Frenemy is to get ahead by any means necessary. In his mind, everything he does is completely justified. And we’ve all been there. I once said to a cute girl I met in a bar, “Wow—I find The Big Bang Theory hilarious, too!” Personally, I refer to that dark encounter as the “day the music died.” My self-respect is the music.
Owl Eyes is…your IT guy.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned while working in an office, it’s that you want to befriend your IT Guy. Yes, this friendship means you’ll be forced to endure a barrage of chit-chat about the egregious inaccuracies of the television series Homeland, the underrated brilliance of the F1 key, and mysterious “jokes” about iPhones, but when the chips are down, you want the IT Guy to take your questionable Google search history to the grave.
How many characters from The Great Gatsby work in your office?