Subnormality #99: “The Service”

December 8, 2008


Here it is and sorry it was late. I have to…go over there now…

Don’t look back in anger,


98 Responses to “Subnormality #99: “The Service””

  1. bachterman Says:

    personal experiences of jobhunting? 🙂
    the comic is worth the wait. excellent-o!

  2. Balau Says:

    I just realized the meaning of the riddle… brilliant!

  3. SteveCentra Says:

    NO! The pink hair! You bastard!

  4. Ali S. Says:

    Wow. You’ve pretty much summed up my job hunting experience. Except instead of waiting tables I’m doing inventory counting for various stores. Argh.

  5. David Baker Says:

    My favorite part, the newspaper headline that says Lou Reed Revealed to Be Elaborate Practical Joke”

  6. Leak Says:

    Holy Fu…

    A whopping 4MB? Whoa… 🙂

    Also… LOL.

    np: Surf City – Dickshakers Union (Surf City)

  7. The Rev Says:

    That was beautiful.

  8. I’m gonna be a slacker when I grow up!

    with a skateboard.
    a slacker with a skateboard.

    the point is you’re awesome.
    but depressing.
    Is my sad contagious?

  9. Questo's Dad Says:

    Only 7 bucks for quite possibly the greatest concert ever conceived? Let me call up my good friend Jerry O’Connell so he can slide me to that wicked awesome alternate universe. I’m not so optimistic to think that job hunting/getting/retaining is easier in any world. Well done, well worth the wait, Wade Welles-tastic.

  10. iamafish Says:

    oh no! she has to get a job! what a pitty… although i can sympathise with how dificult that can be.

  11. iamafish Says:

    sorry for the double post, and the entire irrelevance of this, but i was looking at some of the older comics and saw a mistake (which must be intentional…) Oedipus had not married his mother by the time he defeated the Sphinx, he defeated the Sphinx and thus was made king of Thebes, thus marrying the former queen (widowed, by Oedipus, unintentionally), who happens to be his mother. yeah it’s a screwed up myth. yay for sacrificing humour in the name of historical correctness!

  12. Leak Says:

    Errr… is there a particular reason why the Subnormality homepage itself (i.e. is still “7 Dichotomies in a Bar”?

    Just thought I’d mention it…

    np: Benni Hemm Hemm – Frifpjófur Og Ingibjörg (Ein Í Leyni)

  13. Elana Says:

    i absolutely love your comic and post it to my blog every chance I get in the ‘shared items’ on sidebar. Hilarious! Thank you for bringing tears and laughter to my day.
    Please stop by if you have a sec.



  14. Michael Ezra Says:

    Oh…my…Sphynx. That was by far your best one yet. I fucking love it. I hope you don’t have six kinds of repetitive strain injury after drawing and lettering all that.

    And I agree with David Baker’s above comment about the Lou Reed joke, which nearly knocked me off my chair. (The funny thing is, it’s usually just his Metal Machine Music album that people speculate was meant as a joke or, as Rolling Stone–I think–put it, “a giant ‘fuck you’ to the music industry.”)

  15. Steven Bilyeu Says:

    Your comics make me want to burn the world. Congratulations.

  16. Parry Says:

    I love the title, “service.” It’s like the whole strip builds up to the last segment, with the dissatisfied diners.

  17. Generic Human #47 Says:

    Holy shit, I literally just started a job like that one month ago, and thought “I hope that working here doesn’t make me as bitter as all the other employees seem to be”. That’s spooky, man.

  18. Kurdt Says:

    Wow. Hilarious, sad, and horrifying all at the same time. It must feel weird to have people tell you how awesome your work is all the time, but yeah, it rules.

  19. Toronto Says:

    the new strip doesnt show on the main page (its still the strip from last week). the link from the blog post works.

    I found the strip this week really depressing. but I like it as always 🙂

  20. Okay, so what happened was, i finished the comic like a couple hours before i had to take a train, and then i forgot to update the actual main page when i was updating everything else, and now i’m out of town, so i have to look like an idiot until wednesday night when i get home and can fix everything. Oh well. Those that read the blog will see the comic, so good on yer guys, and thanks for the comments as usual!

  21. Kiwi Says:

    S-so sad, so true.

    Comic looks +awesome this week (as you said, it looks like it took the extra time)

  22. Carlton Says:


    This one makes me want to tip more generously in the future.

  23. pedals Says:

    well if she quits after the first day then its pretty much the story of how my month has gone

    only I was cold calling people *shudders*

  24. Camille Says:

    I #99 is so awesome, I wonder how great #100 will be 😀
    Poor girl breaks my heart (and my dreams, I’ll probably end up like her, yay literature student!)

  25. Nixon Says:

    I had a job interview at IKEA about 4 months ago and I swear that the guy from 3.30 pm is the same guy who interviewed me. The job was just your regular storage and service deal but he kept asking me wierd questions, like “who is your most/least conventional friend?” and “where to you wish your parents worked?”.

    It turns out that this guy had made his own questionare that he was giving to all the applicants for the job. This is totally unethical but I didn’t say anything because I didn’t want to ruin my chances of getting the job.

    Later I was talking to some friends and it turns out one of them knows the guy who interviewed me. My friend tells me that my interviewer flunked out of collage, where he was studing Human Recources. The same education that I’m getting only I’m a few years younger than him (haven’t flunked out yet mom!).

    Anyways, the IKEA guy calls me up a couple of weeks later to inform me that I didn’t get the job. Not a big surprise, I dont have a lot of experiance in that line of work. Where it gets weird again is when he procedes to tell me why I was’nt hired. I was, and I quote “unreachable” and “inauthentic”. This according to his home-made, un-standardized and un-ethical questionare.

    I was so taken aback that I just said something like “yeah ok…thanks for calling anway” and hung up. But the more I think about it the more mad I get. Are we as job aplicants really suposed to put up with this bull shit and then be all thankfull and happy that we got a job that still won’t pay the bills and that leads us no where?

    I hope that when I get my degree and and start working with HR or even as a recruiter that I won’t treat people like this guy did.

    Oh yeah, and the comic rocks to.

  26. Michael Ezra Says:

    “Are we as job aplicants really suposed to put up with this bull shit and then be all thankfull and happy that we got a job that still won’t pay the bills and that leads us no where?”

    That’s the problem with our system, isn’t it? In past centuries one usually learned a trade or profession from one’s parents and got right to work in one’s teenage years or early adulthood (there being less of a distinction between the two then), and generally, unless there was a disaster like a famine or invasion, could count on working at that job for life.

    Now even those who want to do the same kind of work as their parents have to go to university, community college, or vocational school, complete with huge student loans to pay for it. Then they have to jump through hoops applying for jobs where often it’s someone with connections to the employer who gets hired, making the whole process pointless. And even if you’re lucky enough to get a decent-paying job, even better one that doesn’t rob you of all joy in life, you could still get laid off at any time through no fault of your own and have to go through the demeaning job hunting process all over again.

    Problem is, we can’t go back to the old days of apprenticeship and guaranteed employment for life. And few people really have what it takes to sustain their own business (I know I don’t). Some people talk of “guaranteed income” for all citizens, but that would require far more government taxing and spending than most voters would tolerate. So what do we do…

  27. Di Says:

    I didn’t understand the riddle…
    Great detail in the comic, if I were her I would forget about the job and go for those 12 cent beers.

  28. Dan Says:

    I’ve never waited tables but the co-worker types definitely apply to most jobs I’ve had!

    I’ve got to assume that you’ve lived through that kind of job search to get it so dead-on. It’s ridiculous how hard it is for intelligent and qualified young people to get a job that’s worthy of their full capacity in today’s economy. I just got called to the bar as a lawyer and spent almost 6 months on unemployment before accepting a bottom-of-the-barrel position.

    Here’s hoping some of us can remember what it’s like to be young and fresh out of school when we’re on the hiring side of the desk instead of just falling back on nepotism as a policy.

  29. Damien Says:

    Thank you for capturing so completely the life I lead for six months this year.

    I have recently discovered your comic and may I say that you have truly achieved what I once aspired to.

    Thanks again and please don’t stop.

    I’m not alone.

  30. Fenn Says:

    Brown-Haired Girl does not have the same ring to it.

    My job is almost exactly like this, except for the evil dancing clown from hell. Ours doesn’t dance.

  31. Even better than the last one. You are on a roll sir.

  32. spencer Says:

    hhaha i love this! I just love that long ass build up to the final panels about the dissatisfied customers…brilliant!

  33. Dan: Well said, well said.

    Damien: Don’t stop aspiring now. One day the Sinister G-Men will come for me, and one of the other scrappy rebels will have to take over the comic. Or something. Glad you’re not alone, at any rate. I thought maybe I was alone until i started this comic.

    Fenn: “Ours doesn’t dance.” Ha!

  34. Bono Says:

    Spelling out the whole joke like that shouldn’t work… but it does! Love the comic. ~Bono

  35. Frankus Says:

    I thought the newspaper headline was the best.
    ‘Lou Reed Revealed to be Practical Joke’.
    You had me at that point.

  36. Mister X Says:

    Oh ho! So true to life. Like a mirror, if I were young, attractive, female, and not easily tricked into believing that electronic engineering was a great field to go into (debt with).

    I just learned today that over one month ago, a military technology contractor had called about my resumé, at a number that is not mine, but the person who owns the number knows me well. Apparently it was not important to tell me of such a call.

    I currently work for AT&T as a phone monkey, and suicide is now my every other mentally-articulated word.

  37. EvilEngineNumberNine Says:

    A good thing to take away from this comic would be to BE NICE TO YOUR FRIENDS IN THE SERVICE INDUSTRY! They work crappy, low-paying, sometimes hellish jobs. Tip your waiters and be nice to everyone in customer service, we have the shitty jobs so things can be more convineiant for you, the LEAST you can do is not treat us like shit for forgetting you wanted mayo instead of mustard.

    Awsome comic even though it made me depressed. Keep up the great work. I’ve yet to read one of your strips that didn’t outright impress me with it’s sublime wit.

  38. migue Says:

    pink-haired girl is awesome except when she is not pink-haired. Please, give her some life again. Pink-hair her again. =)

  39. Mark Temporis Says:

    Always be nice to your servers; you might spit on them, but what goes into your food when you’re not looking?

  40. Jonh O Says:

    pink-haired, the sane one. Kinda like her!

    This strips are really good in a twisted, ironic, and priceless way.

  41. Innominate Says:

    This comic is amazing! Every detail works. For those who haven’t figured out the riddle yet: three cups [of coffee] in the morning, two legs [for walking to interviews] in the afternoon and four tables [to wait on] in the evening.

    PHG looks horrible at 5:42 and the beginning of 6pm. The eyes are recessed and she’s going “Oh dear god this is not a dream”. She’s not meant for a hellish job! Ah, feeling sorry for a fictional character. A sign that your comics are brilliant.

    Pwease mistaw, pwease stop spweading the sad nau?

  42. Rob Retter Says:

    Hmm…so Microsoft and Google aren’t the only places you bump into bullshit like the “Pulling a Lever, Inc” guy asks. Of course, in those places, he’d be throwing some arcane puzzle-twisty combinatorial or linear programming-based problem into the mix. Odd thing to me is that all I ever really wanted to find when interviewing a job applicant was just some basic communication ability, reasonable curiosity, and an inkling that a brain lurked in there somewhere.

  43. pillota Says:

    Reading this made me feel sad…

  44. ltzanders Says:

    That about sums up post grad school. Not so much the waiting of tables but the lenders with their incessant mailings of how my loans will be going into repayment and feeling utterly screwed. Employed but still screwed. Anyways loved the comic even though it’s a misery company scenario for me right now.

  45. Robert B Says:

    *snif*… *sniffle*…. Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah! I can has unicorn chaser nao?

  46. Charlemaigne Says:

    AGGGHHHH!!!! I am so depressed! Good comic though. Not what I would call a “funny”, but damn good.

  47. Dan Says:

    A fantastic comic. One of your best yet.

  48. arkonbey Says:

    hey! Way to depress the bejebus out of me! Thanks!

    I must say, though, that as a retail veteran myself, I think that EVERYONE should would at least six months of food service or retail. That’ll teach ’em to be more tolerant. Not that I haven’t had some crappy service at terrible restaurants, but many people wouldn’t recognize good service it it bit ’em in the butt.

  49. tris mccall Says:

    c’mon. Metric should be headlining that bill.

  50. mr. purple cat esq. Says:

    Great stuff man!! truly great! no cheap 3 panel absurdist reflex laughs for you!!
    my only criticism… (and im a paying customer so it is only right that i criticize your work!) in the last panel the couples’ expressions are a bit odd.. it kind of looks like they’re plotting something. i thought there was some kind of signifigance to it, i was trying to figure out how it related to the blue thing the woman is holding… but maybe im just crazy!
    keep up the good work!!!

  51. mr. purple cat esq. Says:

    ooh!! i just noticed the spine in the trash can in spineless jims!

  52. Jarrod Says:

    This is the best thing ever.

    “The Service” made my day. Thank you ever so much.

  53. Suntiger Says:

    Quite funny, though I think Pinky had the misfortune to meet every weird-ass interviewer there is on the same day for narrative expediency.
    They were the exception when I searched for a job, not the rule…

    7$ for *that* concert?! Sign me up!

    The “Practical Joke” and “John Lennon still dead” news articles were hilarious.
    Also, the expressions on people’s faces were great throughout.

    An answer to the riddle could be either a yuppie or a waitress, though I assume it’s the later based on what happened to Pinky.

    Speaking of Sphynx, I’m a bit surprised the military hasn’t showed up to a) kill her or b) recruit her. 😉
    Btw, the offer still stands. I’ll help her sort her fiddly DVD’s, type, write things and other such little details that i easier with hands in exchange for not getting eaten and a reasonable wage.
    *wriggles thumbs*
    Really, it’s a bargain.

    • Brennan Barrington Says:

      Some Italian soldiers tried to kill her in one strip set in the Renaissance era, but the pike one of them used broke apart and didn’t even wake her up or hurt her visibly. The soldiers then ran off. I can’t imagine bullets having much more of an effect, and she could just fly away; using anything heavier than that on her would probably cause collateral damage and might not even work anyway. Or maybe there’s some reason she has to exist…related to Hell possibly?

  54. Mediakill Says:

    Absolutely fucking brilliant. By far the truest depiction of soul-destroying restaurant work I’ve ever seen.

  55. jay Says:

    When did Uranium City get a University?

  56. B Holmstrom Says:

    Just got the T-shirts we ordered last week. They look terrific. Can’t wait to parade that sphinx around.
    One satisfied customer

  57. C.P. Says:

    Among your caricatures, you forgot “hard-working immigrant who has never had the luxury of worrying about ‘selling out to the man’ and is happy to earn enough money to put food on the table, even if s/he has to work a crappy job at first, because s/he hasn’t had a pampered American upbringing.” Besides the negative outlook (that refuses to see anyone BUT the waitress as human), though, it’s brilliant, down to the last panel, when you have that sort of “Ahaaaa” moment. Really good job.

  58. VideoGeek Says:

    Everyone catches the Lou Reed joke, but does anyone else recognize the Louis Black homage? It was so funny milk shot out my nose. From the coffee I drank yesterday.

  59. Leak Says:

    Gotta love how the desk at “$ome Bull$hit Office Job Ltd.” is sewn together from the hides of what probably are ex-employees… 🙂

  60. VideoGeek: “Oh no, there’s the hippo!!! Run, little man, ruuuuun!!!”

  61. Marcus Says:

    That was awesome! I used to be a server and that is such a accurate reflection of how it really is!!!

  62. Martin Says:

    oh, that poor girl. :3

    do continue the story! great to see how common experience binds us together. i’m from the philippines, and i’m definitely recommending this series to my friends. 🙂

    as a calvin and hobbes fan, i think you’ve managed to capture the observant spirit of bill watterson’s strips. this is good stuff, and it’s always great to see insightful reads like this one.

  63. Opt To Miss Says:

    This is so ridiculously true to life. I’ve had that call, that job hunt, and even that eventual job (only intelligent person who quits three days later included)

    A lot of people don’t understand what anyone in the service industry has to deal with on a daily basis and just opt to treat waiters and waitresses like mindless machinery with no other goals in life but to serve them.

    This comic should be printed in booklet form and inserted into every restaurant menu for the enlightenment of the unappreciative masses.

  64. Stutkhartz M Says:

    Reading this convinced me not to cut my hair.

  65. Michael Says:

    You know, as a theatre student this one hits particularly close to home, because it’s like a nightmare vision of my life in 3 years time.

    Although instead of recoloring my cranial hair covering, they’d make me shave my Viking beard and cut off my Jesus-like hair.

    Incidentally, your comics inspired me to take up pencil again, and I’m currently working on a eulogy for punk in between finals and rehearsals.

  66. Michael: This eulogy for punk intrigues me. I’ll hope you’ll post it online or something.

  67. Sean Says:

    Wonderful; and wonderfully soul-crushing. I do not miss the days of job-hunting myself and rue the day I may have to once again.

    But I will think of this comic when I do.

  68. Gabe Says:

    so the the “hippo eats dwarf,” reference was KIND Of amazing…


  69. Zev Says:

    So. Dec. 14’s strip?

  70. Michael Ezra Says:

    Zev: See latest blog post.

  71. simon Says:

    That was worth a 2 week wait, if a little grim. Cheer up folks, it’s only going to get worse!

  72. John Says:

    You sir, astound me.

  73. Odd Object Says:

    I found your comic as I sat here pouring over job listings online. It hit home almost a bit too well. You’re not spying on me, are you? That would be very uncool.

    I’ve been through a total of 36 interviews in the past five weeks. My hair color went from black and fire-red, to black, to brown. I had to take my earrings out so often that the holes started closing up. Had 8 when I lost my last job. I’m down to two, and they’re apparently too “punk” because they’re 16 gauge.

    I’ve told by HR people that I look too depressed to work for them. I’ve been asked all manner of ignorant questions about hypothetical situations that, in my 15~ years of working, I’ve never once witnessed. Been told I’m under, over, not even close to being qualified. Fed every bullshit line about why they’re not hiring despite the sign in the window.

    Starting to feel like I have “don’t hire me” stamped on my forehead.

    Sorry, a bit too much coffee this morning. I apologize for the rant. Great comic. Perfect balance of gritty subject matter and humor. Just uhh…stop writing about me. O.o


  74. SpecialBlend Says:

    Best comic I’ve read in awhile!

  75. Michael Says:

    I think you summed up the college graduate job hunt/work experience beautifully (shudder).

  76. Stutkhartz M Says:

    I think these guys deserve some credit:

  77. Andrew Says:

    Ah, that poor girl 😦
    Rarely does a comic strip make me feel really sorry for a character.

  78. Sam Says:

    Yeah, whoever wrote this is well spoken

  79. August Says:

    Hey paper planes by MIA, didn’t think anyone else had that song as their ring tone 🙂

  80. Hyetal Says:

    This is basically genius. I’m pretty sure every job is like this. More people should be reading this before they complain about whatever service their receiving from whatever industry they’re encountering.

    It must scale up like a fractal. The coworkers, the interviewers, the stylist and bank employee must all have stories like this leading up to their presents. A guy is a dick when he interviews new hires because he’s been with the company for 35 years, they still call him “Mike” instead of “Mark,” he hasn’t gotten a raise since 1998 and they canceled his retirement plan years ago without telling him. So why should he care how he treats some smug bitch who he’ll never see again? Same with the idiot dishwashers, the patrons… everyone. It’s the cycle of our society which we all, in some way, perpetuate.

    But some of us make a brilliant comic that sums it up nicely and gets some of us to stop and think about it.

  81. Alex Says:

    The future of a liberal arts major.

  82. lora Says:

    lol wish i had a orange spoon 😛

  83. So true.. and I just lost it at the clown. I just lost it. Perfect timing. I havn’t laughed that hard at something in a LONG time. Thank you for that!

  84. Corinne Says:

    Ohhhhh this makes me sad, about a year ago i too sold out and recoloured my pink cranial hair covering. Granted, it is black instead of brown, but thats not far off. Being an adult sucks donkey.
    Also, what the hell does overqualified even mean anyway? I have grown to loathe that term.

  85. this just made me so sad, ive benn thru the same shit

  86. Anthony H. Says:

    Noooo! I loved her pink hair!

  87. Tomas Catz Says:

    soul sucking is what society is made for right? i miss her pink hair already ;_;

  88. Hank Says:

    This webcomic is like a glimpse into an alternate reality where I (a lazy, somewhat depressed, perpetually daydreaming nearly-30-year-old with a vague sense of undefined entitlement) got off my ass and wrote webcomics from the perspective of a lazy, somewhat depressed, perpetually daydreaming nearly-30-year-old with a vague sense of undefined entitlement, and those webcomics were well-made and enjoyed by many.


  89. mootpoint007 Says:

    I’ve been reading these comics backwards, and it seems that whoever the author is really criminalizes people who complain about bad service, I understand that in this comic the woman is coming from a bad place and doesn’t deserve any shit–but much too often it’s just some jackass who huffed paint in high school zoning out; they could use a reminder as to what their job is.

    I know I sound like some fifty year old stingy man but, this comic really has been coming from one view point which I find kind of annoying because of all of the preaching it does about introspectiveness.

  90. evolver Says:


  91. Soulless Laborer Says:

    This is my life, working at game stop.
    I mean it. It’s my life. Those people? I know them. God help me, I need a “real” job

  92. basiamc Says:

    -sigh- Stop it, I’m already depressed.

  93. Sean Britt Says:

    so I guess you’ve never worked in a restaurant before. ha.

    The only thing you might add would be the second job (the one that has real societal value, like teaching or nursing) but is so grossly underpaid that it requires continued supplementation through slave labor.

  94. Cedric Says:

    This one makes me stop reading and start thinking about why it made me so sad.

    So if you can’t preserve the ambition/self esteme you had once young as soon as you start working,
    that makes you a desillusionned sociopath.
    But on the other hand, in the unlikely alternative where you actually manege to live by your ambition, then what do you think you will become, feeling constantly “above the herd” ?
    The sad truth is : you will be a sociopath no matter what.
    Welcome abroad, kids !

  95. Eamonn Says:

    Strangely, I was listening to ‘Straight to Hell’ when I read the first panel, where the phone rings.

  96. Brennan Barrington Says:

    This is why I’m so glad I’m an engineering major and I’m good at it. Everyone needs engineers.

  97. Shaquan Says:

    Wow. Just wow. You’re used to it by now, i’m certain. But…man was that potently entertaining. It had Pulp!.

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