Office Mysteries: Who started first?

In this series, Flonkerton investigates some of the unanswered questions from “The Office.”

mystery-roof.jpgQuestion: Who started at Dunder Mifflin first, Jim or Pam?
status: unsolved
In “Launch Party”, Pam and Jim share a cute moment on the roof when they revealed to each other the moment they knew they liked each other. Not surprisingly, Jim confessed he liked Pam from the first moment they talked on his first day. Wait, his first day? Didn’t Pam start after Jim? Did the writers goof, or have fans been falsely assuming Jim started before Pam?

What we know

  • We know in Season 2 that Pam had been engaged for 3 years.
  • We know that Pam was engaged when she and Jim first met, so one of them started in 2002 or later.

The Theories
Theory 1: Jim started before Pam, and the “Launch Party” conversation is a continuity error.
supporting evidence
1. In “The Secret” Jim says to Pam, “I had had a crush on you when you first started here.” In the same conversation, Pam said “I thought that maybe you did when I first started.”
2. In “Dwight’s Speech” Ryan makes a comment that Jim “has been working at the same place for 5 years.” Since Pam has been engaged for 3 years as was engaged when she met Jim, this indicates Jim started 2 years before Pam.
3. (it’s a stretch, bear with me) In “The Merger” Michael spoofs the SNL video “Lazy Sunday” for his orientation video. Jim tells the cameras that the video Michael showed on his first day was a spoof on the Blair Witch Project. If we go with Ryan’s 5 year comment, then Jim started working at DM in 2000/2001. BWP came out in 1999, so it would have been and appropriately topical spoof.
4. On Jenna Fischer’s Myspace, under the companies section (bottom of the left hand section), it says Pam has worked at DM since March 2002.

Theory 2:Pam started before Jim
supporting evidence
1. In The Secret, Jim may have said he had a crush on Pam when she first started, but then 5 minutes later in Michael office, Pam says, “Yeah, he had a crush on me when he first started”, meaning perhaps Jim’s previous line was the flub.
2. Ryan never made an effort to get to know Jim, or anyone really, so his comment in “Dwight’s Speech” that Jim had been working there for 5 years may have just been a guess, or an exaggeration to prove his point.
3. Unlike Pam’s engagement, where “3 years” was constantly reiterated, Ryan’s comment is pretty much the only specific reference to how long Jim has worked at DM, and it was likely just an off-hand comment. The writers were possibly trying to keep the dates ambiguous.
4. And of course, In “Launch Party” Jim confesses to Pam he liked her ever since his very first day.

So there are Flonkerton’s Theories. Questions? Comments? New evidence or just a different theory altogether? Please post!

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14 thoughts on “Office Mysteries: Who started first?

  1. I have no mystery-solving evidence…just more evidence to muddy the water.

    In “The Pilot”, Michael comes out of his office with his obnoxious “Whazzup” and Jim’s reply is “Whazzup! I still love that after seven years.”

    Which would also mean Jim worked there before Michael was regional manager, but that’s another investigation all together…

  2. Jim actually says “you still love that… after seven years”

    meaning the joke was seven years old, not necessarily that jim had been working there for seven years

  3. In one of the episodes (can’t remember which) Pam explains that she warned Jim of Dwight on his first day.

    ~But the picture of Jim and Dwight in the “old days” is hilarious. haha

  4. There’s also the talk of Jim taking Pam to Cujino’s (sp) on her first day but it’s possible this is a deleted scene I can’t remember at the moment.

  5. I remember that scene where Jim said something to the effect of on his first day he met “the perfect girl who was engaged to somebody else…” it definitiely insinuated that he started there after pam had already started…. but you are right, Gin, it could have been a deleted scene…

  6. I’m super late to this but I was doing a Google search because I was curious. In the Launch Party episode, during the conversation on the roof, didn’t Jim say that on his first day, Pam said to him something about “You will never forget the time before meeting your deskmate (Dwight)”?

    I’m so confused.

  7. I’ve recently become obsessed with this show (watched the Pilot last sunday and finished the season 4 finale on wednesday).

    I love that Jim says he liked her from the first time they spoke… but I’m pretty sure that Jim started first. Pam did say during “Launch Party” on the roof that she showed Jim to his desk on his first day. The comment Jim made about taking her to Cugino’s WAS a deleted scene so technically we have to act as if it didn’t exist, because there’s also a deleted scene where Michael’s Worlds Best Boss coffee mug gets smashed but it’s seen later in the show since technically the smashing never occurred because it never aired. In “The Secret” Jim does say that he had a crush on her when SHE first started… and since “The Secret” aired before “Launch Party” we must assume that Launch Party was the mistake since it came after chronologically.

  8. Diana – thanks for commenting and welcome to the Office Flandom! It sucks you in, doesn’t it? I rented the 1st disc of season 2 on a whim back in Sept. 06, and I went straight through it. I went to 3 different Blockbusters to find the 2nd disc! Needless to say, I was all caught up by the next new episode.
    Anyway, thanks for your comment. This is certainly one of the more muddled mysteries on the show. It seems the writers themselves aren’t sure who started first! But I like my fangirl-vision of a bored Jim, ready to walk out on his job until a vision in a cardigan walked in and he decided it wasn’t so bad 😉

  9. My theory is that Jim and Pam both started working at Dunder Mifflin at different times on the same day. Pam had a brief training day while Jim was away at some sales training thing and during that time she observed Dwight. When she comes in for her first official day, it’s Jim’s first official day too and Michael tells her that her first task is to walk Jim over to his new desk and that’s when she tells him that he’ll never go back to the day before he meets his new deskmate Dwight.

    This is the result of thinking WAY too much about this.

    Also, I remember reading an interview with one of the writers or someone where they said that deleted scenes do count as part of the show.

  10. It’s just sloppy writing.Like how Pam would fake PMS to get out of vollyball practice and hang out in the art department but then went to vollyball camp most summers by the end of season five.It’s only a T.V show and all of the writers don”t remember the continuity as much as the fans who watch the show several times.

  11. Although ‘The Secret’ was aired before ‘Launch Party’ I think that whatever happens later in the show should be what we should assume about the timeline of the story since that is what’s fresh in the writer’s mind and that is where the story is supposed to be heading (although in this case this has nothing to do with the future storyline). So in this case I think I will assume that Pam worked there before Jim did just based on what they said in ‘Launch Party’.

    haha sorry if that was confusing my wording was weird.

  12. Pam started first. In addition to Pam’s contradictory statement to Michael in The Secret episode, there is another episode where she speaks of her first words to Jim- which were something to effect of it being the end of the life as he knows it as she walks him to his desk and his new desk mate, Dwight.

    • First off, I’m pretty excited about a new comment on the site! Don’t get too many of these any more! I agree, other than the kitchen conversation in “The Secret” the signs point to Pam starting first, I just remember before ep 403 “Launch Party” (where Pam said she walked Jim to his desk) virtually every fanfic and meta post I read until that point assumed Jim started first, so I recall the fandom being pretty confused. But I do still think they started working at Dunder Mifflin fairly close to the same time (within a few months), and that lead them to form such a strong bond.

  13. Still funny after 7 years I believe refers to when that commercial was hot, not how long Jim worked there. That’s how I took it but am not positive.

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