There’s a lot of disturbing information coming out about Matt Lauer’s conduct behind the scenes at NBC (namely: the sarcastic-air-quote-implied “allegedly” scumbaggy parts of it), but the aspect of the story that has most captured the nation’s imagination is the fact that apparently he had a special button installed on his desk that could lock his office door from the inside. According to The New York Times, this wasn’t that unusual for security reasons. Or, as Lauer interpreted it, the “security” of not getting interrupted while trying to make sexy with his underlings.
In 2001, the woman said, Mr. Lauer, who is married, asked her to his office to discuss a story during a workday. When she sat down, she said, he locked the door, which he could do by pressing a button while sitting at his desk. (People who worked at NBC said the button was a regular security measure installed for high-profile employees.)
The woman said Mr. Lauer asked her to unbutton her blouse, which she did. She said the anchor then stepped out from behind his desk, pulled down her pants, bent her over a chair and had intercourse with her. At some point, she said, she passed out with her pants pulled halfway down. She woke up on the floor of his office, and Mr. Lauer had his assistant take her to a nurse.
Look, inviting people into your office and then locking the door behind them using a special button without standing up is more than just a power move. It’s creepy AF. Like, what the fuck did NBC think that shit would be used for? Especially if they were only made available to “high-profile” employees who, you know, actually had enough power to leverage in the harassment of their colleagues.
But there’s another takeaway here that I feel like people aren’t fully appreciating…
Companies will pay to install and maintain special buttons in offices! That’s a thing that happens! Why didn’t I know when I still had an office?! The fact that at NBC those buttons only locked doors is a massive failure of imagination on their part, and frankly Lauer’s behavior is now tarnishing all the potential good a secret office button could do. In addition to, you know, the way his behavior caused emotional and professional harm to multiple women. What I’m saying is that there is a lot of blame to be heaped on fucking Matt Lauer, and while I can’t help the women, perhaps I can redeem the button.
So, in no particular order, here are a list of alternative functions a secret desk button could serve in lieu of just locking a goddamn door. Feel free to take these to your bosses, as the business merits of any single one of them are apparent.
- Whiskey button: Have it dispense whiskey on command. Can be substituted for other alcohols, or if you’re a super senior executive, maybe you get a whole minibar of booze buttons? This is a personal Overlord favorite.
- “Do Not Disturb” button: Do you have co-workers who barge in on you? Push a button to illuminate a status sign outside of your office. Think an “On Air” sign, only applicable to non-radio hosts. Maybe you’re “Eating Lunch” or “On A Call” or “Definitely Not On Reddit Right Now” — but why get that specific? If you have to go with one status, pick “Do Not Disturb” and then leave that shit on from the moment you get to the office in the morning to the moment you leave.
- Coffee button: Can be combined with whiskey button. Personally I’d want a special Cafe Con Leche button. Saves you the trip to the office Keurig and the ensuing awkward chit-chat with the HR director who seems to fucking LIVE at that machine. Like GAWD Lisa, just buy a bigger mug and fill it with a few k-cups, then go back to your desk and STAY THERE. You’re making the rest of us nervous.
- Ninja Star button: Courtesy of TK, who is really into having on-demand weaponry just a button click away. Which, as far as security measures go, is definitely a bolder and more proactive step than insta-locking doors. Can be substituted with any weapon, like perhaps those pendulum blades that will turn your office into a temple raid.
- “Shhhh”-ing button: Use this to silence your colleagues when they talk too loudly outside your office. Or when they talk. Like, at all.
- Escape Hatch button: Could be a chute that drops you directly to the sidewalk outside. Could also be placed by your door to drop other people to the sidewalk outside.
- Hologram button: Engage a lifelike hologram of yourself to make it look like you’re doing work when in fact you’re out getting your brows threaded or whatever. Can also be used to create holograms of your fave bands to entertain you while you’re working on that TPS report.
- Robo-snack button: Press it and a robot, or even a roomba, emerges from a hatch in the wall. Here’s the thing though — the robot is carrying an assortment of your favorite snacks, like those crazy British chips (“crisps,” fuck off) that taste like shrimp or pickled onions or roast chicken or whatever. And then it retreats back into the ether. Caveat: if you’re gonna leave delicious snacks in secret wall chambers, make sure your office is being proactive with the pest control.
- Laser light button: Duh. It creates a laser light show. For when it’s party o’clock.
- Intercom button: Ok, intercoms aren’t original. But then again, how many of you have actually had one installed in your office? What better way to shame people for being late to a meeting than bellowing at them from speakers situated throughout the ENTIRE FLOOR?
- Retractable wall button: This is for those of you who work in open floor plan situations, where you’re set up on long shared desks that “encourage communication” or whatever. Just because you don’t have an office doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have a button. And as someone who spent many years at a team table, I can tell you — if I had a button that would erect dividers between me and the dude schmoozing on the phone next to me, I WOULD HAVE.
- Fake Call button: Have you ever had a meeting with someone that would NOT end? They just keep chatting the day away instead of wrapping up and getting the fuck out. I had a boss who would make me interrupt her meetings with fake emergencies when that was happening, but with the push of a button you can do the interrupting yourself! Just hit the button, and your phone will ring. Then you can say, “Oh sorry — I’ve got to get this. Talk to you later!” and cold shoulder them out of your office.
If you had a secret, magic work button, what would you want it to do? Dream big. But don’t dream creepy, ‘kay?