latest littlegreybox

Phoebe’s office nightmares

A photo I took of Brisbane City - I can see my beloved office building! yay!

A photo I took of Brisbane City – I can see my beloved office building! yay!

The lid of my pop top water bottle has slipped out of my hand. It has slipped out, clipped the counter and landed mouth side down on the floor of the kitchen at my work. I am disgusted. The feet of a thousand disgruntled employees have graced the spot where my innocent bottle top now lays. This unfortunate little event signals the beginning of another week of work in the land that time forgot, my office building.

Last week’s ‘highlight’ occurred on Tuesday at 12:42pm when a co-worker mistakenly thought a young lady at the hotel across the road was sunbaking topless by the swimming pool. The entire male cohort, and some of the women, could hardly contain their excitement at the call of “That chick’s got no top on!” and rushed over to the window to have a good look. Unfortunately for all of them, he was wrong. It was a horrible trick being played by a light orange strapless bikini and a very tanned young woman.

This is what life at my work is like. It isn’t a bad workplace by any means, it’s just slow. I feel like poor Edward Norton in Fight Club. Sometimes I ‘come to’ at a meeting with no idea how I got there or how long I’ve been there for. Dazed and very confused I try to piece together bits of information, narrowing my eyes at the agenda in front of me and peering at the notes taken by the person to my left. Luckily for me there is usually at least one person who falls asleep during meetings and distracts from my blank, expressionless face.

A real note a co-worker left on my desk once. Heart warming, ain't it?

A real note a co-worker left on my desk once. Heart warming, ain’t it?

Office life is the same for most people, I think. A never ending cycle of passive aggressive notes stuck up in the toilet or kitchen, inevitably involving overuse of bold and underlined font. There’s the regular gripes about stationary related problems and the familiar smell of stale coffee and long abandoned Tupperware containers in the communal fridge.

Like a bad episode of meerkat manor, the slightest noise evokes 50 tiny heads popping up from behind cubicle walls. I learnt this the hard way while moving floors last year. I misjudged a tight corner while trying to manoeuvre an over-loaded flatbed trolley and sent my documents, computer and stationery hurtling toward a metal cubicle wall. The judging eyes of my colleagues gazed down on me as I turned the deepest shade of crimson and scurried to gather everything up and slip back into the beige nothingness of office life.

One positive, however is you don’t need to worry about fashion if you work here. There was a guy who wore the same tracksuit to work every single day for a year. A tracksuit. Not a funky Adidas tracksuit, one of the super dodgy, saggy ones that only your Grandpa would be able to find and purchase. I once saw a guy take casual Friday to the next level by showing up in red board-shorts, an unbuttoned Hawaiian shirt with a yellow mesh (MESH!) singlet underneath and, to finish it all off, blue Croc’s. I wouldn’t say I’m an avid Croc-hater, but on this particular day I wished they’d never been created.

Coffee. The only good thing about going to work. Am I right?!

Coffee. The only good thing about going to work. Am I right?!

The words ‘streamline the process’ are bandied about more than ‘I love you’ at a One Direction concert. Despite this, every process is complicated beyond belief. Want to have something approved? Fill out a form, have that signed by two different supervisors. Take that to a Director and have them sign it. Post it (yes, POST it) to North Queensland. Wait for an email from that office, take that email and forward it to another area, then take two silver coins and tape them inside your left ear. Blink exactly forty-two times while drinking a glass of water upside down, put your left foot in then take your left foot out and you’ve just completed the office Hokey-Pokey. Congratulations.

Common courtesy and general hygiene practices are low priority here. Yesterday I was walking back from the photocopy room only to find a very sick co-worker sitting at my desk, in my chair. He had taken up post to tell everyone who would listen about just how sick he was. He sat there coughing and spluttering, detailing his symptoms to a bored group of spectators for 15 minutes. Ummmm are you serious? Get up immediately. Move your disease riddled carcass away from my desk so I can commence the tiresome process of systematically burning everything you’ve just touched, you feral. It has taken me years to find a desk chair with decent lumbar support and you’ve just rubbed bubonic plague all over it, now move!

I’m dreaming of a day when I’m my own boss, sitting in my home office, writing all day with my dog asleep next to me. Until then, I’m going to have to continue to see the funny side of where I work and enjoy the frustrated notes, boring meetings and terrible fashion. Truth is, I’ll probably miss it when I do eventually leave and will need to come back for writing inspiration!

Phoebe

littlegreybox.

Obviously we all have these same work issues come up, what are your gripes? Air your dirty laundry in the comments below :) If you enjoyed reading, share this post with your friends (but probably not your co-workers).

12 Comments on Phoebe’s office nightmares

  1. Personality clashes are the BEST and worst in a cubicle environment. I have sat next to the super OCD (let me organize your desk, pleeeeese) and other times next to a person who keeps every empty soda can in their cube. Mind you, these are cubes with a wall that you don’t even need to stand up to see over. I like to think was acceptable to both situation, but as times, I would be that person cracked! Thanks for sharing!

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  2. I feel for you, I really do. I have managed to avoid most of what you mention here by first, being a nurse for 20 or so years, and next, working at non-profits in small offices of 4 or maybe even 5 people. I think there are always the kinds of people you mention, but being in a small office, even when part of a bigger whole, insulates one from all the drama.

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  3. Hi Phoebe, long time reader – first time commenting. Your blog was eerily reminiscent of my current workplace. But I have to ask… is there such thing as the perfect workplace? Like any family, don’t all workplaces have their fair share of freaks, drama queens and those who take “passive aggressive” to a championship level? It’s scary when you realise you almost spend as much awake time in your adult life with these people as you do those you love and care for – thank god for weekends, public holidays and any other day that will give you a reason not to go to work.

    And I feel your pain with meetings! On occasion we have to attend meetings like any other workplace and I have noticed this one lady seems to take every opportunity to sit next to me. More recently I have noticed she has the habit, like you, of dozing off shortly after the meeting starts. I will admit nothing gives me a more perverse sense of pleasure when you watch someone “wake up” and for a few seconds appear to have no idea where they are. I have noticed she will often sneak a glance at whatever notes I have been taking to see what she has missed. To add to my entertainment value I have started writing completely unrelated and nonsensical information in the hope she will read this and say something to the meeting, therein making a complete idiot of herself. Does this make me a bad person?

    Sometimes I swear I walk into work and come to the conclusion that I am the only sane person in my area. I am positive my workplace is some form of psychotic social experience played out to the sadistic fantasies of an unseen overlord. We are a menagerie of conflicting personalities balanced on the razor edge where, at a moment’s notice – a careless remark or unintended facial expression, we will all plunge into a 21st century’s version of Lord of the Flies set not a desert island, but within the ever oppressing walls of our cubicles.

    Good luck with the continuation of your blogs… I really wish I had someone with your writing skills where I work. You wouldn’t believe the crap I have to read through. I sure it would make someone as professional as you cry….just like I do most nights before bed. Stay strong LGB and keep up the excellent work.

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    • I too have a sense of deja vu reading of LGB’s workplace issues. In fact my own office has this crazy FWP-obsessed blonde whose infatuation with me makes me quite uncomfortable.

      Keep writing, LGB. I hope you achieve self actualisation through writing, one day. My own self-actualisation efforts will require a $30K pay cut and spending Saturday nights dealing with wife beater-wearing wife beaters. So perhaps there’s a little crazy in us all.

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