Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Office Trash Talk

I will never talk disparagingly of coworkers on the Dotopotamus. That’s just not cool, not fair and not always smart. So why do I feel the need to say this? Because I’m about to talk despairingly about a coworker. Here’s how I make it okay. He’s not really an employee of my organization. He’s on contract. We hire his company to clean our offices twice a week. He’s our vendor. Makes my talking disparagingly about him totally okay, right?

Because the truth is, I think I’m this close to losing my cool and giving this guy a big, ugly dose of BACK OFF!

He’s a very nice person. Seems like a smart guy, too. But he’s a non-stop talker who must speak every single thought – and I mean every single thought - that goes through his mind. I find myself getting twitchier and twitchier every time he comes by.

Over the course of the last few months, he’s developed the habit of commentating on what he’s dumping out of my trash. The combination irritation, embarrassment, anger, humiliation this stirs up in me has almost reached its boiling point, and I fear I’m going to snap one of these days and have to add ballistic meltdown to the list of things that make me irritated, embarrassed, angry and humiliated.

Wow. You sure are throwing a lot of newspapers away today. Maybe if you read them more frequently and didn’t let them stack up you wouldn’t get so far behind.

Have you really drunk 7 Diet Cokes since Thursday?

Are you sure you want to throw away this pen?

Man, how many revisions of this report to ConocoPhillips to you do, anyway?

I thought I smelled rotted apple.

Looks like someone has had a sweet tooth this week…THREE ice cream bars?

It’s CONSTANT! So then I feel the need to justify my garbage with every comment he utters.

Well, we were in pledge and there were three of us hanging out in my office between breaks and we all had an ice cream bar, so all those wrappers aren’t really mine.

I frequently use a red pen and that one finally ran out of ink so I had to throw it away and get another one.

Yea, I guess I’m wasting a lot of trees but I want to make sure I get ConocoPhillips just the right report.

Sorry, I’ll throw my apple core away in the kitchen from now on.

The other thing he does that I love so much? When not giving me running commentary on my trash, he’s looking over my shoulder at what I’m doing on my computer.

So, why do have that paragraphed highlighted yellow?

Wow, why do you think that project should cost so much money?

Hey, do you know how to do Excel?

Do you have to have a password for that web site?

Oops, looks like you misspelled charity. But I’m sure you were going to use spell check before finishing.

Non-stop color commentary.

When he’s vacuuming, he just barges in. No asking if this is a good time. I’ve been on the phone with donors and had my executive director and a board member in my office for a sit down meeting and he just comes on in with the vacuum cleaner, shouting really loudly above the noise that he’ll only be a minute. Oh, sorry, Mrs. Fitzroy, I know you can’t hear me over the vacuum cleaner, but IT WILL ONLY BE A MINUTE!

For the life of me, I don’t know why I’m letting this person get to me so much. How do I tell this nice, chatty guy who really does an incredible job cleaning our offices, whose services I really do appreciate, that he’s making me nuts? That when I hear him coming I find myself desperately trying to find a reason to escape my office? That I’ve come to identify Tuesdays and Thursdays with dread?

To stop the madness and spare my sanity, I’ve decided to do these three things.

1. Stop letting him bug me. I’m going to see the humor and just let it go.
2. Never again comment on something he said about what he found in my trash. He can question my banana peels, discarded agendas and scribbled on post-it notes from now on…I will not respond! I don’t even think he’ll notice because he’s not looking for conversation – he’s just voicing his every thought bubble.
3. Start putting really weird things in my garbage can for him to find.

That’s right. I’m going to start throwing away things that he won’t expect. Cryptic notes that say things like “test results not good”, or fake phone messages that say the FBI called, or Barbie doll bodies with their heads missing. Maybe the occasional condom wrapper, wine bottle cork or empty tampon box. Granted, in reality I don’t think I can let my professional guard down QUITE that much, and I realize that if I took this much time doctoring my garbage I’d be just as weird as he is, but that is completely BESIDE THE POINT!

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  • At 3/27/2007 , Blogger Emig Family said...

    Can I play? If I have something truly bizarre to put in the trash, I'm going to take it to your end of the building. Mwah-ha-ha.

    I could toss nuclear waste into my trashcan and sweet old Lamont would continue whistling his happy tunes while zipping his Hazmat suit.


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