office: these habits don’t make the lists
Since I’ve been in the “working world” I’ve always been fascinated by Office Top Ten lists. My most recent office environment has caused me to be interested in annoying office behavior. Close quarters, little personal space, noisy environment. It’s ripe for people to stop being polite, and start getting real… annoying.
Even so, there are clearly some office behaviors that are so taboo that one’s own common sense should tell one that they just ain’t right. So much so that they don’t even appear on the most commonly circulated “Top 10 Most Annoying Office Behavior” lists that go around the blogs and news sites. (Recent lists: 1, 2, 3)
Submitted for your approval, I’d like to add the following two to the list. Feel free to add your own in the comments.
Over the past week I was a little twitterpated* over a history of one of the most detestable behaviors I’ve experienced all the way back to… grade school, I think. Stealing someone else’s food. This time it was at work, in the notorious Office Fridge**. I don’t normally bring in homemade items, usually pre-packaged yogurt, cheese and smoothies, so I realize that makes them a prime target. They’re easily swiped if no one’s around to see you and rarely questioned. If one wishes to blame the victim then it’s clearly my fault for bringing in food that’s so easy to steal.
Really, WTF? Is it laziness, poverty***, food addiction or maybe just the illicit thrill of stickin’ it to the man by drinking my Odwalla smoothie?
But at least the fridge thievery has the allure of anonymity, this next habit amazes me for two reasons. 1: no one ever says anything about it and 2: the people doing it have got to know that it isn’t cool–singing aloud.
I usually work at my desk with music, sans headphones. I keep it at a low volume and often make sure it’s not bothering others since we work in an area with no sound-dampening surfaces and no white noise. So I was shocked when I heard, from two desks over, a co-worker just breaking out into song. Gospel, to be precise. From the conversations around her, I gather she’s in her church choir. Still, no one said anything to her, some even complimenting her on it. And it was that kind of 50/50 to yourself/out loud kind of singing that you’re not even sure if the person knows they’re doing it. Very annoying, but more conversations about it revealed that she might have been coming up on a big singing date/show/whatever, somewhat forgivable, but only just.
So yesterday when I heard the familiar annoying-as-hell strains of man-made music, I turned to look in her direction only to realize that it was coming from someone else this time. And no lie, it sounded like Wing (as featured on South Park).
While whistling and humming are in this category of office annoyance, I think full-on singing takes home the gold. It makes me wish I were Nomad****:
Neither of these people are on my team, and I’ve gotten the scowly faces before for asking people to tone their loud conversations down a little, so I’m not saying anything to either of them. And as has been mentioned before, it’s clearly my fault for not wearing headphones. But when I do, people don’t seem to notice that these white earbuds aren’t part of my natural anatomy and will stand behind me talking–someone once for 10 full minutes–without realizing that I can’t hear them.***** One co-worker doesn’t even turn around when they need something. They just call my name repeatedly over their shoulder until it dawns on them that I might not be at my desk and then they turn around with a sour look on their face that I’m ignoring them. Goodness forbid I have my proper sound-isolating headphones in.******
As the workplace evolves, so must the Top Ten lists. But I still doubt I’ll see either of the above items on them.
** I question the wisdom of an office having a pantry in the first place, but even so, I think all office fridges are actually the same office fridge. It exists in multiple incarnations, but they’re all the same fridge. It’s the only explanation for why something in a place filled with responsible adults can get so disgustingly foul and neglected… right?
*** I work on a floor with feds and contractors. It ain’t poverty.
**** But I admit, I’d happily let Uhura sing in my office. Especially if my office were the freakin’ Enterprise!
***** The fact that I take no notice of them nor respond to them isn’t a tip-off at all. They probably just think I’m being an ass.
****** Honestly, they’re great once you get over hearing your own bodily movements, and the fact that you can’t hear your own desk phone ring… or the building’s fire alarm.