Business and employment-oriented website LinkedIn is the place to go for job opportunities, internships and professional networking. For one man, however, the social media network is the perfect place for unexpected conversations.
On Monday, September 5, Alexander Cohen, a product manager at a large healthcare startup in Austin, Texas, posted a truly one-of-a-kind money-saving hack he claimed to attempt during a company trip.
“I’m traveling for work and instead of eating a fancy dinner out, I’ve decided to cook a cheaper meal in the hotel room,” reads the post on LinkedIn, which has been liked more than 1,400 times. “Even though the hotel room didn’t have a kitchen, I managed to use the coffee machine to cook chicken with butter and garlic.”
Cohen continued to say in the post that although his company allows him to expense dinner while traveling, he wanted to save money because he knows “that every dollar counts on the P&L” (that means profit and loss account for those not familiar with accounting lingo.)
“It’s the little things that get you promoted,” he said.
Cohen completed his unique take on cost-cutting measures by adorning the post with the hashtags work, money, hotel, coffee, promotion and career advice. If you’ve ever used a coffee machine in your hotel room (to actually make a cup of coffee, that is) you personally may be wanting to add #Horrifying or #CallTheFBI to his suite of hashtags.
This turn of events led a few people on the LinkedIn post and around the Internet to squint their eyes and wonder if his post was serious or not, taking to the comments to let their concern be known.
“I take it they’re not counting the sick time you’ll need for giving yourself salmonella on a business trip?” said one commenter on LinkedIn.
“I assume you pre cleaned the chicken in the toilet bowl first,” said another user on LinkedIn.
“This is satire, right? It has to be satire,” said a LinkedIn user, to which another user replied that one could also do “chicken satay.” People are so clever.
Cohen’s post actually went viral on three separate social media platforms: first on LinkedIn, then again on Twitter, where the post received 82,500 likes and more than 5,440 retweets and finally Reddit, where the post garnered 6,200 up votes and hundreds of comments.
“I feel like I’m allowed to sue you for this,” said one user on Twitter.
Another pair of users shared their own cost-cutting hacks with a wink.
“True Story — Happened with me: I was on a work trip once and got hungry at midnight after working 6 hours,” said the user on Twitter. “I wanted to save some money for the company I worked for. So made fried eggs in my hotel room using my company laptop.”
“I went through this too. I was traveling for work and decided to have a barbecue on the iron to save money for the company I work for,” said another Twitter user along with a precarious iron griddle setup.
Cohen later commented on his own post asking if anyone knew “how to get the taste of chicken out of the pot” because someone reported him to hotel management and was “threatening to charge the company card” he had on file.
At this point many of the commenters realized that his post might have been in jest and helped to relax the mounting terror of the comment section by replying to the serious concerns of some folks.
“I am sure you are joking cause otherwise, what about the guests who will use that coffee machine after you?” said one concerned commenter on LinkedIn. “They have to drink a coffee with a chicken flavour. I think you are selfish for doing that, assuming you are saving. Also, not hygienic at all. It damages the hotel’s assets too.”
Another LinkedIn user responded to that comment by reciting the definition of the word satire to indicate the likelihood that the post is a joke, which caused the original commenter to reply, “Thanks, Eminem.”
If you’re wondering if Cohen was indeed serious or not, we went straight to the source to find out.
“I wasn’t even traveling at the time,” said Alexander Cohen to TODAY Food in a direct message on Twitter. “I was actually at the Austin FC game at the time and we were delayed because of rain so I figured I’d have some fun.”
Taking a look at Cohen’s presence on social media, his comedic takes on personal finance, the restaurant business, the job market and other professional subjects allows for a fair bit of LinkedIn crossover, which he said he takes advantage of.
“I love posting satirical stories to LinkedIn (almost as a hobby now) because no one expects jokes on a ‘professional’ social network,” he said.
“When you lied on your resume and landed a remote job that required 10 years of experience but you have none,” reads one of his other posts on Twitter.
In another tweet saying he doesn't understand how Chili's, Applebees, Olive Garden and Red Lobster "are still in business," his words are causing another bit of heated conversation and jokes. There’s a theme to his social media output that stirs conversation, to be sure.
“I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t enjoying how far this thing has spread,” said Cohen, adding that he was surprised at how viral the post truly went. “I did not expect it to blow up across other platforms like it did,” he said.
When asked what he would say to people who think LinkedIn is not for jokes but for serious and employment-minded professionals only, his reply to the rise-and-grind bros, networking divas and connection collectors is simple.
“Work is work,” said Cohen. “Go outside and enjoy life.”