Gofer

Gofer

[goh-fer]

A gofer or go-fer (gopher) is an employee who is often sent on errands. i.e. Like when an executive sends the employee to purchase coffee beans. The term originated in North America, with the phrase dogsbody being a similar British term, and dog robber an American military one. ("Gofer" reflects the likelihood of instructions to go for coffee, dry cleaning, or stamps, or to make other straightforward or familiar procurements.) While often regarded by employers as a menial position, many gofers view the job not only as an achievable position (similar to "working in the mailroom") for "starting at the bottom" of an industry, but also (especially in the entertainment industries) as a means of gaining the attention of influential figures who may be dramatically helpful to the gofer: Edward Burns's submission of his first self-financed production to Robert Redford is described as a successful use of the strategy. Stan Lee of Marvel comics fame also started his professional career as a gofer for Martin Goodman's comic book office in the years before World War II. Likewise gofer may refer to a junior member of an organisation who generally receive the most vexing and thankless work. Law firms with a top-heavy management structure, having not enough junior lawyers to take care of menial yet necessary tasks, can be referred to as having "too many loafers and not enough gophers".

One early reference to the term gofer as an occupation was made in Season 1 of the television series The Muppets when Scooter was given the job because his father owned the theater that the Muppets performed in. The pun was that Muppets were based on animals and a [(animal)|gopher] is also an animal.

References

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