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The single most pointless class I ever took in high school was economics. What should have been Adult Orientation 101 turned out to be nothing more than how to balance a checkbook (basic addition and subtraction) and "generic food is just as good as name-brand food" (how to boldfaced lie to teenagers). I really hope it's changed since then, but just in case it hasn't, I'm offering some useful real-world lessons about jobs that I think every high school should adopt and pass along. Lessons like ...

Don't Be Afraid of the Phrase "Ass Kisser"

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There aren't many types of people more terrible to work with than ass kissers. Movies and TV shows love using them because it's the easiest way to create an instant villain and get your hand to involuntarily curl into an asshole corrector. They're shameless, manipulative, self-serving slime -- who the hell wants to be thought of as that?

Well, that's kind of the problem. Those exaggerated caricatures we see in movies are pretty rare to find in real life. True ass kissers are more subdued, because being called out would ruin their method of climbing the ladder. Since this makes them more difficult to spot, anyone who is even slightly polite and helpful to the higher-ups ends up getting that label from the petty twats you work with. This isn't a trivial matter. I've seen it freeze careers like a Zack Morris timeout.

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Damn you, Zack Morris! Your inability to control your power has killed an innocent man!

It's all because you're most likely going to be interacting with your co-workers much more frequently than your boss. If you're viewed as an ass kisser, you're going to spend the majority of your day in a hostile work environment, because many of them will be sexually aroused from constant fantasies of your violent death. Since it's human nature to want to be liked, it's extremely easy for a person to do what's expected of them -- no more, no less -- in favor of fitting in and avoiding the negativity.

The problem is that the biggest promotions and raises aren't given to the people who do what's expected of them. The big ones are given to those who do more than what's spelled out in their job description. Am I telling you to start kissing ass? Hell no. Unless that's your thing, in which case I don't care if you flat-out french their butthole. What I'm saying is that you can't let your performance be dictated by how your co-workers will interpret it.

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Hopefully they'll have the decency to call you names behind your back.

Remember, many of these assholes probably won't even be working there in a few years anyway. And of those who are, wouldn't it be better to be their boss than constantly begging for their acceptance? I suppose it all depends on what you want out of the job. Speaking of which ...

Don't Keep Your Goals (and Accomplishments) to Yourself

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Most of us have been brought up to exercise some semblance of modesty. Braggarts are every bit as neck-punchable as ass kissers, so we learn to either tone it down or accept a life filled with eye rolls and truncated conversations. The downside to that belief is that it keeps you under the radar at work. Sure, that's a great place to be if your job depends on Gordon Ramsay not asking for your chef's jacket, followed by a tear-filled interview about how the world hasn't seen the last of you. It's not so good when it comes to real-world performance reviews that define your pay scale.

Unfortunately, letting your boss know about your accomplishments is an acquired talent. You have to be careful how often you let people know, as well as what tone you take when you do it. Otherwise you come off as an attention whore who's just fishing for a pat on the back. Don't do it enough, and they'll just assume you're doing what's asked of you and no more.

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"Oh, hi, Chad. I wasn't even aware you still worked here."

See, the problem with many employer/employee relationships, especially in a workplace that has a lot of workers, is that when you see the boss, it usually means something bad has happened. Someone has fucked up a report or flooded the mail room with fish again. Managers want people who can do the job without them having to stand over your shoulder. The whole point of your position existing is so the boss doesn't have to worry about that job and can concentrate on other facets of the business, like telling Jack Lemmon to put that coffee down or practicing his "brass balls" speech.

The better you do, the less time they have to take out of their day to check up on you. And the less they interact with you, the less they know about you and what you bring to the table, not just in a corporate environment, but in pretty much any job at all. You find yourself covering other people's shifts and working extra hours, but you don't get so much as a nod from the manager. Or you work in a factory where you put in the same number of hours as everyone else, but you produce twice the amount of product, without so much as a simple "good job" from your jackoff supervisor. Every day you understand the appeal of arson just a little better.

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Let's just hope for their sake that your insurance doesn't lapse.

It's their job to make sure you don't fuck up, because if you do, it's their responsibility. It's your job to make sure they know it when you go above and beyond. Not in a bitchy "I'm overworked" manner, but in a way that just lets them know, "I'm putting in more than is asked of me. Please keep that in mind when it comes time for raises." The same is true for your goals. The odds of your boss just handing you your dream job based on your past performance is about the same as your celebrity crush giving you a genital massage. However, if you've made it perfectly clear to them that your goal is to work your way up to a particular position, you'll be surprised how many bosses will tailor your workload in preparation for that.

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Networking Is as Important as Your Job Performance

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For those not in the know, "networking" is a term used in business and entertainment that boils down to "socializing for personal gain." Celebrities attend high-profile clubs so their picture ends up in tabloids and magazines, hence keeping their name in the public eye. Business people attend parties, lunches, and satanic cult sacrifices so they can meet new contacts in the industry or make their current bonds stronger. It's a weird idea to people whose jobs don't rely on it, but it doesn't mean they're exempt, as douchey and pretentious as it all sounds.

I used to run a website for a group of auto dealerships. The job itself was awesome, but I hated almost everyone I worked with. Every year they had a big Christmas party, and every year I blew it off. The idea of hanging out with people I regularly envisioned enveloped in flames was excruciating. What I didn't understand at the time, though, was that these after-hours social gatherings were creating tighter relationships between all of them, while pushing me further and further outside of their clique. To them, I probably appeared to be an antisocial asshole. They weren't entirely wrong.

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What? Sitting in the bathroom and listing the names of my enemies is cathartic.

A few years later, the dealership was forced to cut costs and positions, and they didn't hesitate to give me the finger and send me out the door. In fact, I was their very first cut. Now, that's not saying that if you don't attend your job's social gatherings, you'll be standing in an unemployment line while your old boss masturbates to your lust-quenching tears, but you should know that it absolutely can work in your favor.

What a lot of first time workers don't realize is that when deciding on a promotion, a manager doesn't just base his decision on who does the best job or who puts in more hours. Trust is an enormous factor. If they put you into a position of authority or increased responsibility and you fuck it up, it's as much their fault as it is yours. So between two applicants with relatively equal skill, the one who's getting the job or promotion is the person that manager knows and trusts the most.

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"You'll notice I've placed bags of cocaine and a prepaid cellphone under each of your chairs ..."

Does that mean you have to attend every company function? No. Make too much of an effort to socialize, and you'll just be annoying ... or worse, fall into ass kisser territory. Just taking the time to say hi during mutual breaks or talk about their interests before your shift starts is a great way to warm up to them. Short of throwing out free blow jobs and blackmail, it's the easiest advantage you can give yourself in a job.

New to the Company? Expect Shitty Tasks

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I don't know anyone who hasn't complained at some point that he does all of the work while the manager just sits on his ass in the office doing jack shit all day. I'd say it's a rite of passage, but I know 40-year-olds who still say it. Part of that is not knowing what it is a manager does or the level of personal responsibility they're required to take with the business, which is understandable -- you can't know it until you've worked it. But the other part is that the worker gets piled under so many shitty tasks that every other position seems easy by comparison.

Unfortunately, it's true that new hires and low level workers get stuck with a ton of menial shit that any monkey could fling. It feels like punishment or an initiation, but in most cases, I assure you it's not. You have to remember that the person who hired you most likely doesn't know you. Because of that "personal responsibility" and "trust" thing I keep bringing up, they're going to naturally hand down easy, foolproof bullshit until they know you're not going to destroy the company with constant fuckups.

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That's hot dog acid. He died four hours later.

That sounds crazy, since they studied your application, interviewed you, and trusted you enough to hire you. But you have to understand that there's a huge difference between you on paper and you in action. My wife once hired a woman who interviewed perfectly, but once she was on the job, it turned out she was physically incapable of counting money. They worked at a loan company that handled cash six days a week.

So are you being tested? Yes, in a "make sure there are no turds in the pool before diving in" sort of way. But it's a good thing, because it's probably the most influential time of your career. There won't be many, if any, times when you are watched and judged as closely. Not just with your performance, but the way you handle and react to the job. Your ability to do it without being a bitchy little douche will dictate how fast you get to hand off those chores to the next poor bastard they hire.

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"Welcome aboard. Come with me, and I'll show you where the garbage tasting room is located."

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Recognize the Benefits of a Lateral Move

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As far as growth and pay are concerned, this is easily the most important lesson I ever learned about the working world. Listen up, kiddos, because nobody ever told me this shit, and I really wish they had.

Let's say you're capped out on how high you can be promoted in your department. You're a supervisor and the direct boss of the whole jade division of the cock ring factory. You learn that there's a new position open in the pig tail butt plug warehouse, but it's 25 cents less per hour, and you'd be the lowest person on the totem pole.

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But at least it's better than "dildo tester."

Many people wouldn't even consider the pay cut, let alone the loss of stature, but the fact that there is room to grow makes it an investment. Not only are you giving yourself the opportunity to surpass where you currently are, you're also building a more diverse knowledge of the company, padding a resume that most of your other co-workers likely don't have unless it's from a customer standpoint, in which case ... ew.

Lateral moves are scary because it's putting you into unfamiliar territory. Your brain panics, trying to convince you that you're throwing away everything you've worked for on a risky bet, especially if that lateral move means switching employers. The idea of starting from scratch sucks, but that's the whole nature of growing. It's like switching gears in a stick shift. There's a short time where the car has to coast while the clutch is pushed in. You're not gaining ground until the next gear engages ... but if you never go up a level because you're afraid to push down the clutch, you can only go so fast.

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And let's face it, if you can't get up to 88 miles per hour, you'll never almost fuck your mom.

It's not an easy decision to make. Nor is it always the right one. I'm just saying it's worth the consideration if your goal is more money, responsibility, and authority. I know a guy who's had the same assistant manager job for 25 years, and he's perfectly happy with it. He's told me many times that he's as far as he ever wants to go with the company, and that's totally fine. But he didn't get to that point without understanding all of these lessons. It's just too bad we didn't learn them before jumping into the adult world.

Your move, high school. We'll talk about improvements to sex education later. You may need a lawyer for that one.

John is an editor and columnist right here at Cracked, with a new article every Thursday. You can also find him on Twitter and Facebook.

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