Posted by Jamie C. Baker
I had one of those days on Monday. I can tell I complained far too much that day, but I also know I’ve held back the majority of my complaints and still had bucketloads to bitch about. I arrived at the office to find a broken printer cartridge on my desk that had been wrapped in a dirty towel; apparently leaving me a note to say we need to order another wouldn’t suffice. I was asked the same question about forms that I don’t have by eight different people because the first person who asked me did not believe me when I said I don’t receive the forms in question and thought it appropriate to ask others to ask me. My fat waste of life coworker had been hacking up her bloated lungs all morning, refusing to stop until she gets an “aww, are you okay?” from someone in the office OR has something to gossip about. Someone’s lunch smelled like burnt green beans and the smell refused to dissipate. A woman came over to ask me a question while stuffing crackers in her mouth, decided it was appropriate to talk with her mouth full, and spit food on my desk. Oh, and some asshole was clipping their nails.
If my husband and I didn’t ride to work together, I would have abandoned the office before I had a chance to dig into my lunch and try to scarf it down before someone invades my space and stares at my food while asking me pointless question after pointless question. I would love to blame my bad attitude on lack of sleep or too much pizza last night, but I can’t honestly place blame anywhere but on the socially retarded dickwads that I work with. The few gems in my office are so far away from my desk that their good behavior is almost always masked behind the cloud of rudeness and bullshit created by the rest of the employees here. The thing is, it is painfully simple to knock the crap off and act like a human being, resulting in people such as myself to keep a firm grip on their sanity and not fantasize about stapling you to a wall. Here’s how:
1. If someone is eating, back the hell off. The printer running out of paper is not a life or death situation and likely can be figured out yourself. There’s no need to butt into someone’s lunch to inquire about extra reams of paper. If you’re not in need of something, piss off; it’s horribly rude to stand around someone who’s trying to enjoy their Subway, especially if you’re one of those creepy folk who stare at food like a starving dog.
2. If YOU are eating, retreat to your area. Don’t talk with your mouth full, don’t lick your fingers as you point out key areas on a spreadsheet, and don’t assume your coworkers are okay smelling your horrible onion breath as you munch on your meal in the middle of an impromptu meeting. Your meal should not be intrusive to others. That includes your after lunch gum; we don’t need to hear you popping and cracking.
3. Use your own trash can for your own trash. If it’s a small wad of paper or something equally as unassuming that you’re trying to dispose of, it’s fine to use whatever trash can is the closest. If you’re spitting out gum, getting rid of a cup that is still half full of a beverage, throwing away food wrappers, or anything else that smells, spills, or has your bodily fluids on it, use your own trash can or use a communal one (bathroom, cafeteria, etc.) It is NOT okay to use a can that sits beside or underneath a coworker’s desk and is part of their working area. They don’t need to smell the remnants of your lunch, deal with your spilled coffee when the janitor comes around to change the bags, or have you throw your used Kleenex in the can that sits three feet from you and hope they don’t catch whatever nastiness you have.
4. Leave your smelly food in the cafeteria. If you brought Brussels sprouts and salmon for lunch, maybe you should eat your lunch in a common area and not at your desk. If you lunch stinks and you bring it back into the office, the office now stinks. If you don’t eat it all and chuck it in your wastebasket, the smell gets to linger and drive everyone batty. You might like the scent of garlicky food. Your neighbor across the aisle may not.
5. Don’t be a pest just because you don’t like an answer. If you ask someone a question and don’t agree with the answer you receive, find a supervisor or just ask someone else. Do not go around the office and request that everyone ask the same question of the original person in order to see if one of them receives a different answer than the one you got. Most people you work with aren’t hateful assholes who are withholding information from you out of spite. Chances are, you’re just asking the wrong person or searching in the wrong area.
6. If you’re emailed a question, you can email an answer. Some people prefer to communicate electronically rather than call or do it face to face. Unless the answer is insanely complex or requires an alternate communication method, just email back an answer and pat yourself on the back for being a good helper.
7. Leave the bathroom activities in the bathroom. At your house. Clipping your nails, especially your toenails, is not an office appropriate activity. Neither is flossing, as the junk extracted from your teeth can have a tendency to fly onto communal surfaces surrounding you. Farting happens, but you should avoid making an event out of it or letting one rip in someone else’s area without a second thought. If you must be one of those people who brush their teeth at work, at least try to be discreet, wait until the restroom is empty, and don’t spit everywhere.
8. Mind your own business and let people be ignorant to yours. I need to know that you have a doctor’s appointment later so I don’t go looking for you, but I don’t need to know that it’s a colonoscopy and you’ve been drinking laxatives in preparation. Don’t overshare, don’t take personal phone calls and have loud conversations, don’t be a gossip, and don’t pry into people’s personal affairs.
9. Don’t overstep your boundaries and try to manage people you shouldn’t. If someone is stealing or doing something horrible and obviously against policy, definitely go to your manager or theirs and try to get the situation rectified. Do NOT, however, insert yourself into the business of the guy in accounting who you are SURE isn’t doing his job and try to spy on him to catch him screwing up, don’t take it upon yourself to track his attendance and keep a record of all the days he runs a couple of minutes behind, don’t add to their workload when you’re not authorized to do so, and don’t engage in behavior that is the responsibility of the person’s manager, not yours.
10. Exercise common sense. If you wouldn’t like something done to you or around you, don’t do it to or around your coworkers. If something seems like a shitty thing to do, don’t do it. The office is not your home and should not be treated as such. Think before you act and please help make the office a better place to work. Personally, I’m just one asshole away from taking my letter opener to someone’s face. Don’t let yourself be the asshole who pushes someone over the edge.