World War II Advice: Defeat The Enemy By Being A Terrible Employee

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iStock

At the height of World War II, with the Allied powers battling the encroaching Axis powers on multiple fronts, any little bit of assistance helped. Though citizens in the United States, Britain, France, and other similarly minded nations could freely dedicate their efforts to defeating Germany, Italy, and Japan, residents of those rival countries sympathetic to the Allied cause had little recourse to openly offer any help. To tap into those suppressed networks of support, the Office of Strategies Services (precursor to the modern CIA) published a “Simple Sabotage Field Manual,” distributed by pamphlet and targeted international broadcast.

The instructions direct ordinary citizens to obstruct the functioning of their local governments and economies with a series of outwardly normal, but secretly disruptive actions. According to the manual’s introduction [PDF], “sabotage varies from highly technical coup de main acts that require detailed planning and the use of specially trained operatives, to innumerable simple acts which the ordinary individual citizen-saboteur can perform.” Luckily for that ordinary citizen, “simple sabotage does not require specially prepared tools or equipment […] and it is carried out in such a way as to involve a minimum danger of injury, detection, and reprisal.” 

The suggested acts range from openly seditious (start fires, slash military vehicle tires) to brilliantly subtle, the latter variety of which read hilariously like a guide for how to be terrible at your job:

For train conductors: “Make mistakes in issuing train tickets, leaving portions of the journey uncovered by the ticket book; issue two tickets for the same seat in the train, so that an interesting argument will result.” “Make life as uncomfortable as possible for passengers. See that the food is especially bad, take up tickets after midnight, call station stops very loudly during the night, handle baggage as loudly as possible.” “Switch address labels on enemy baggage.”

FOR FARMERS

“Feed crops to livestock.” “Spoil fruits and vegetables by leaving them in the sun.”

FOR MAINTENANCE WORKERS

“Be inefficient in cleaning.” “Jam paper, bits of wood, hairpins, and anything else that will fit, into the locks of all unguarded entrances to public buildings.” “Forget to provide paper in toilets.”

FOR RIVERBOAT CAPTAINS

“Spread false rumors about the navigability and conditions of the waterways they travel. Tell other barge and boat captains to follow channels that will take extra time, or cause them to make canal detours.”

FOR MOVIE THEATER PROJECTIONISTS

“Ruin newsreels and other enemy propaganda films by bad focusing, speeding up or slowing down the film and by causing frequent breakage in the film.”

FOR RADIO ENGINEERS

“Overmodulate transmissions of talks by persons giving enemy propaganda or instructions, so that they will sound as if they were talking 'through a heavy cotton blanket with a mouth full of marbles.”

FOR TELEPHONE SWITCHBOARD OPERATORS

”Delay putting enemy calls through, give them wrong numbers, cut them off ‘accidentally,’ or forget to disconnect them so that the line cannot be used again.” “Tell important callers the boss is busy.”

FOR BUS DRIVERS

“Go past the stop where the enemy wants to get off.”

FOR TAXI DRIVERS

“Waste the enemy’s time and make extra money by driving the longest possible route to his destination.”

FOR COAL MINERS

“A slight blow against your Davy oil lamp will extinguish it, and to light it again you will have to find a place where there is no fire damp. Take a long time looking for the place.” “Send up quantities of rock and other useless material with the coal.”

FOR OFFICE WORKERS

“Misfile essential documents.” “Multiply paper work in plausible ways. Start duplicate files.” “Make mistakes in quantities of material when you are copying orders. Confuse similar names. Use wrong addresses.” “Even it you understand the language, pretend not to understand instructions in a foreign tongue.” “Spread disturbing rumors that sound like inside dope.”

FOR ADMINISTRATORS

“Insist on doing everything through ‘channels.’ Never permit short-cuts to be taken in order to expedite decisions.” “Make ‘speeches.’ Talk as frequently as possible and at great length. Illustrate your points by long anecdotes and accounts of personal experiences. Never hesitate to make a few appropriate ‘patriotic’ comments.” “When possible, refer all matters to committees, for ‘further study and consideration.’ Attempt to make the committees as large as possible - never less than five.” “Bring up irrelevant issues as frequently as possible.” “Hold conferences when there is more critical work to be done.”

And for ordinary folks with no opportunity to engage in any of these other acts of simple sabotage, the OSS has a number of suggestions for actions anyone can take, from prank calls to general rudeness: “Hamper official and especially military business by making at least one telephone call a day to an enemy headquarters; when you get them, tell them you have the wrong number. Call military or police offices and make anonymous false reports of fires, air raids, bombs.” “Audiences can ruin enemy propaganda films by applauding to drown the words of the speaker, by coughing loudly, and by talking.” “Report imaginary spies or danger to the Gestapo or police.” “When the enemy asks for directions, give him wrong information.” “Act stupid.”

Under “Possible Effects,” the manual declares that “occurring on a wide scale, simple sabotage will be a constant and tangible drag on the war effort of the enemy.” While there’s no measurable data on how many people were inspired by the distributed pamphlets to subvert the Axis powers from within, that might even be considered a sign of their success; after all, no one was ever outed as an enemy sympathizer simply for being very bad at their job. However, decades later, the war long over, some of these actions still seem suspiciously prevalent in particularly inefficient workplaces everywhere. If anything here seems too familiar, keep an eye out for possible subversives among you—or maybe just nudge your coworkers to pick up the slack.

[h/t Business Insider]

Mifflin Madness: Who Is the Greatest Character on The Office? It's Time to Vote

Steve Carell, as Michael Scott, hands out a well-deserved Dundie Award on The Office.
Steve Carell, as Michael Scott, hands out a well-deserved Dundie Award on The Office.
NBC

Your years of watching (and re-watching) The Office, which just celebrated its 15th anniversary, have all led up to this moment. Welcome to Mifflin Madness—Mental Floss's cutthroat competition to determine The Office's greatest character. Is Michael Scott the boss you most love to hate? Or did Kevin Malone suck you in with his giant pot of chili?

You have 24 hours to cast your vote for each round on Twitter before the bracket is updated and half of the chosen characters are eliminated.

The full bracket is below, followed by the round one and round two winners. You can cast your round three vote(s) here. Be sure to check back on Monday at 4 p.m. ET to see if your favorite Dunder Mifflin employee has advanced to the next round. 

Round One


Round Two


Round Three


The Office Planned to Break Up Jim and Pam in the Final Season—Then (Smartly) Thought Better of It

Jenna Fischer and John Krasinski star in The Office.
Jenna Fischer and John Krasinski star in The Office.
NBCUniversal Media, LLC

Jim Halpert and Pam Beesly's relationship in The Office was truly a romance for the ages. Fans were delighted when, in Season 3—after years of flirting—John Krasinski and Jenna Fischer’s characters finally got together. But an alternative plan for the show’s ninth and final season saw the couple going their separate ways.

Season 9 saw one of the most stressful storylines the show had to offer when Jim took a job in Philadelphia and Pam struggled to take care of their children on her own back in Scranton, putting intense strain on their otherwise seemingly perfect relationship. In one unforgettable scene, a particularly tense phone call between the couple ends with Pam in tears. Fischer’s character then turns to someone off camera named Brian for advice.

As Collider reports, Pam and Jim's relationship could have taken a turn for worse in the final season—and the writers had planned it that way. As recounted in Andy Greene's new book, The Office: The Untold Story of the Greatest Sitcom of the 2000s, series creator Greg Daniels sat down with each of the show's stars before starting the final season to discuss where their characters would go. John Krasinski, who played Jim, pitched the idea of putting Jim and Pam’s relationship on thin ice. According to Krasinski:

"My whole pitch to Greg was that we’ve done so much with Jim and Pam, and now, after marriage and kids, there was a bit of a lull there, I think, for them about what they wanted to do … And I said to Greg, ‘It would be really interesting to see how that split will affect two people that you know so well.'"

Several writers weighed in with ideas about how they might handle a split between Jim and Pam from a narrative standpoint—though not everyone was on the same page.

Warren Lieberstein, a writer on the series, remembered when the idea of bringing Brian—the documentary crew's boom operator—into the mix. “[This] was something that came up in Season 5, I think," Lieberstein said. "What if that character had been secretly there the entire time and predated the relationship with Jim and had been a shoulder that she cried on for years?’ It just seemed very intriguing." Apparently, the writers thought breaking the fourth wall would jeopardize the show, so they saved it for the last season.

Writer Owen Ellickson said there was even some talk of Pam and Brian “maybe hooking up a little bit," but the negative response to the storyline led the writers to "pull the ripcord on [Pam and Jim's separation] because it was so painful to fans of the show." Ellickson said that they backtracked so quickly, they even had to re-edit certain episodes that had already been shot to nix the idea of Jim and Pam splitting up. Which is something the show's millions of fans will be forever grateful for.

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