When you can tear yourself away for a moment from text-messaging friends during meetings and humming along with your iPod deskside, we need to talk. Its about your manners.
You may have some, but we think youve forgotten to bring them to the office lately. Whats with the toilets that go unflushed, the inconsiderate and somewhat alarming noises coming from your carrel (are you really clipping your toenails?) and the science experiments in the office refrigerator that are the remains of last Fridays lunch?
Hint: Your mother doesnt work here.
We, your fellow workers, admit we are crankier than usual and more easily annoyed lately. Not only do we arrive hot and sticky and leave under the threat of thunderstorms, but theres this economic downturn, so our days are stressed.
Finding that you have once again borrowed our stapler and desk chair, and helped yourself to the Milk Duds we keep for emergencies. ... Well, lets just say your stash of purloined toilet paper that you use when the communal supply runs out is in serious danger. (You think we dont know where it is?)
Pushing your coworkers to the edge has consequences. Take one of our heroines: Lynne R. Viccaro. Every day her work at her former marketing job on Long Island was made all but impossible by a woman at a nearby desk who had an enmeshed relationship with her cell phone. It was also her home phone, and therefore rang all the time. Its ring tone (Get the Party Started, by Pink) was set at rock-concert decibels, and despite direct requests from surrounding colleagues, the woman never changed the setting to vibrate.
One day the offender went to a meeting and the phone started thumping and pumping on her desk, Viccaro said. In a moment of inspiration, Viccaro took the shrieking device and wrapped it in bubble wrap and duct tape until it resembled a noisy basketball, then crammed it into the bottom drawer of its owners desk.
The real fun started, Viccaro explained in an email message, when she got back and heard the now-muffled sound of her cell, trying to announce a missed call. She rescued the phone from its plastic tomb and shrieked Who did this to my phone?
Viccaro proudly confessed. Why? the woman yelled.
Viccaros reply. Because there wasnt an open window nearby.
Well done, we say. Well done
We also applaud Shirley Van Scoyk, a real estate agent with Weichert in West Chester, Pasadena, whose nemesis was not a phone but a coffee mug. A sink full of them, actually.
There are 70 employees in her office and each seems to believe that a dishwashing fairy comes in the night. How is it that an adult enjoys a cup of coffee in a mug, then rinses it and puts it, full of water, into the sink and walks away? she asked in a tone that suggests she has asked this before and never received an answer. What exactly do they think is happening to that mug to get it back into the cupboard?
What is happening now is that the mugs simply disappear. I just started throwing the dirty ones away, Van Scoyk said, unremorseful. Someday, there wont be any. And then I guess we wont have a sink full of dirty mugs.
Not every plan is that effective, alas. Carey Hart and the other employees at BlastMedia, a media relations company in Indianapolis, have spent two years trying to stop food thieves in the kitchen their agency shares with other businesses in the building. When BlastMedia employees chip in for pizza and put the leftovers in the refrigerator, the slices disappear. One day all that was left was a single pepperoni in an empty box.
Goodies disappear from the office suite, too. There were eight Funfetti cupcakes in the conference room when Hart left work one evening. By morning, two remained. There were four Twixs, four Reeses peanut butter cups and four Kit Kats, placed as bait under a stack of napkins on a desk over a weekend. On Monday, half were gone. Hart and her coworkers have written their names on the boxes, placed polite notes inside and sealed packages with company logo stickers; nothing stops the sneaky snackers.
Weve thought of baking cupcakes with Ex-Lax as revenge, she said, but we havent taken it that far. Yet.
We dont want to resort to drastic measures, either. Hence this note. We are hoping it works on you, dear colleague. We will be watching for a change in behaviour. If it doesnt happen, be warned. Harts laxative idea sounds very appealing.