Work in progress
A quick look at the various life forms that flourish in every office
Let me guess. Even as you settle down to reading the papers on a lazy Sunday, a part of you is already dreading the return to office come Monday morning. And who can blame you? There is something soul-destroying about being thrown into close proximity with a bunch of people for days and months, even years, on end – especially if you didn’t like them very much to begin with. The daily irritants just pile on until you’re ready to scream blue murder – or commit one with your own bare hands.
Every office has its irritants – and none is more annoying than an irritating colleague. These come in all shapes and sizes and have their own particular quirks. But odds are that there is one of the following types in every office across the world.
No matter how well things are going, this guy (or gal) will find something to complain about. His raise wasn’t good enough; she didn’t get to go to the company off-site in that swanky location; the air-conditioning is too cold/not working; parking is such a bitch when you don’t have your own spot; the folks at head office are such idiots; and who on earth made that bozo their boss?
This one is almost exclusively male – and a pretty unreconstructed male as that. He is convinced that he is God’s gift to womankind; and nothing, not even a kick in the groin, will convince him otherwise. Say no all you want, he will still believe that you actually mean yes – it’s just that you are too coy to say it out loud. Nothing deters him: not the presence of an all-too-visible boyfriend; not the threat of an irate husband; not the derision of the entire office staff. The only way to stop him is to report him for sexual harassment – though he’s likely to misinterpret even that for some sort of perverse come-on.
It’s probably very politically incorrect to say this, but this one is almost always female. She’s the girl we all love to hate. The one who teeters into work on impossibly high heels and has the entire male staff lining up to open the door. The one who can get out of pulling night shifts by the simple expedient of batting her eyelashes at the supervisor. The one whose annual raise is inversely proportional to the size of her dress. The one who gets the best assignments by charming the boss – and then gets one of her deluded (male, of course) admirers to do the work for her. Yes, say it out loud, we hate her.
This one is the best friend you can have in office because by some mysterious process he or she knows exactly what is going on in every department. The Gossip knows who gets paid more than you for considerably less work; who is sleeping with whom; who has broken up with whom; whose marriage seems to be in trouble; who is the boss’ blue-eyed boy/girl this month; which posting will be up for grabs at the end of the year; and much, much more. The only downside is that he or she will also gossip about you with the same cheery viciousness when talking to other people. But hey, that’s a small price to pay for being so well-informed.
This one has got the flow of information down pat. It’s in one ear and out in another person’s ear. But once you’ve got his or her measure, it’s relatively easy to deal with this type. You can put the Tell-Tale to good use when you want to get a rumour started on the office grapevine: just drop a word in that every-ready ear and swear him or her to confidence. The next thing you know the story will be buzzing up the office email and getting them all into a huddle at the water cooler. Mission accomplished.
True to the name, this one always looks as if he or she has the cares of the world on their slender shoulders. But how can you blame them? Clearly, the office would cease to function if they did not come in early to work; pick up the slack of less efficient (not to mention less conscientious) staff members; stay in for lunch to catch up on outstanding projects; stay back after the boss to clear up the mess he has created; and then trudge in early to perform the same routine all over again. Honestly, it’s enough to give anyone a halo of incipient sainthood.
This one never met an authority figure he didn’t want to sidle up to with an insincere compliment. He’s made a career out of cosying up to those in power, be it his boss or his boss’s boss. But he doesn’t stop at that. He also finds a way to worm his way into the affections of the boss’s wife, he makes friends with the boss’s kids, remembers all their birthdays and makes it a point to mark the occasion with a thoughtful little gift. His pay-off is the opportunity to baby-sit on weekends and a glowing confidential report at the end of the year.
He never works at anything that he can palm off to someone else – and yet, he appears mysteriously busy all the time. You may have a sneaking suspicion that he’s playing Solitaire on his computer but when you sneak up on him you’ll find him studying a pie chart. Honestly, it’s enough to drive anyone up the wall.