Chicago, IL-On Monday, a generally incompetent coworker who had blown several deadlines prior and grossly mismanaged an entire project, smoothed things over by asking the candidate of their eventual wrath how their weekend was. Before the first sip of coffee of the morning was taken, the awkward interaction that would undoubtedly ruin the entire month was set into motion with an empty cordiality.
The sense of dread was already palpable as the contour of the coworker sidled into sight, casually adjacent to the end of the cubicle wall, its presence always suggested an unreasonable need or demand.
Neither had ever hinted at an even remote interest in the happenings of each other’s respective weekends which rendered the question even more unsettling. Like most office relationships, they tolerated each other at best and loathed each other at worst. Nonetheless the inquiry was made in a feeble attempt to camouflage incompetence with politeness and pacify the situation.
“Hiya,” said the coworker sheepishly, arms crossed over the top of the cube wall. “How was the weekend?” The shrillness of the question infuriating anyone within earshot.
Before a response could be mustered, a barrage of unclear, irresolvable and time sensitive demands rained down with reckless abandon. Like a swarm body blows in a prized fight chopping down the reigning champ and reducing him to a mound of bloody, whimpering flesh.
Fortunately because the soul crushing tasks were delivered after a vacant nicety, the coworker can retreat to her desk void of any remorse. In fact, encouraged by the start of a blossoming relationship.
Chicago, IL-On Wednesday, a manager was unable to determine whether a conference room full of employees were kicking off a new project, or mourning the simultaneous and sudden death of their beloved childhood pets. Through the pane it was indeterminable whether the moisture gathering on the sunken faces were tears or sweat from all of the innovation happening.
The room was completely silent according to the manager, though mouths appeared to sometimes open and close involuntarily in the moments he observed whatever was happening in the meeting. Some certainly appeared focused, perhaps sullen, while others seemed to be struggling to subdue an impossible rage. Each emotion lending itself to the confusion surrounding the purpose of the meeting.
A collective pet funeral, complete with agenda and numerous actionable items with fellow coworkers, was certainly not out of the question though neither was a life questioning kickoff call with an unappreciative client.
Because neither circumstance was more or less likely than the other, the manager moved slowly on, satisfied that a kickoff meeting could be as emotionally impactful as the death of someone’s favorite thing in the whole world.
A man who was bound to live in middle management infamy and considered by executives extremely capable of showing up to work on a semi regular basis, has since come under fire for his noticeable disrespect towards coworkers. Though his vaguely polite demeanor aligns with the general attitude of the office, his emails have been viewed as personal attacks by many for not containing the obligatory five exclamation points that qualify even the most passive aggressive email as polite. One in the salutation, three in the body and one in the valediction respectively.
The intentional lack of feigned enthusiasm and digital politeness has turned him into an office cancer. Though he’s been underperforming for months and is perceived by most to be irrelevant at best, the exclamation points are what finally lead to his undoing. Vast ineffectiveness is to be expected, but failure to nurture his coworkers digital emotions is on an entirely other level.
“His email had absolutely no excitement in it after I dumped a last minute project on him on Friday that would cause him to work all weekend…so inconsiderate,” said Carolyn Walsh firing off a string of high importance emails, that combined with the exclamation points only function to enrage coworkers more. “Just rude,” continued Walsh proceeding with the rapid delegation of all of her daily tasks.
As the indistinguishable, actionable and benign emails relentlessly flow, remember that a few strategically placed exclamation points in an email that will undoubtedly be ignored anyways will solve everything and transform you into a department hero in your own mind.
There’s a certain expectation of monotony in a corporate bathroom. An orderliness in behavior that affords us the luxury of letting our guard down. It can be reasonably ascertained for instance that the urinals will be used exclusively for urine and the sink counter will not be used to fulfill any regrettable carnal yearnings. The facilities are generally well maintained, there’s a notable absence of the pesky bathroom attendant threatening to soak you in Drakkar Noir and the company is determinedly mild-mannered. That being said in rare, momentary lapses the corporate bathroom can breed traumatic experiences that will haunt for an eternity.
I entered the office bathroom as aloof as any other day, noting the violently taupe walls and subtle smell of sulfur. I paused immediately after entering and took a moment to cherish the ordinariness of it all, a perfectly crafted environment for no one and everyone. I continued walking in allowing my admiration of the stale, lifeless surroundings to fully consume my attention, but as I passed the wall separating this peculiar albeit pleasant world from the terrors outside, I noticed something that didn’t belong. Or perhaps someone.
In the middle of the two sinks that inhabit the majority of the counter stood a man, gazing deeply and satisfyingly into the mirror. He appeared to be inexplicably wearing a pair of carpenter flare jeans that had a light wash and seemed like they shouldn’t be worn anywhere, let alone work. Tucked snuggly into the pants was disproportionately small button up shirt, which only functioned to make the flared jeans appear even more like JNCO’s. Though I objected to the workplace garb, this wasn’t the most upsetting part of the experience.
I promptly relieved myself, returning to the sink only to find the dimwit looking as smug as ever only now he appeared to have washed his hands and was standing between the two paper towel dispensers that were approximately a full wingspan apart. Instead of using a singular dispenser like anyone with a sliver of self-awareness would, he stood as though on a crucifix collecting paper towels simultaneously in both hands. I stood behind him waiting for the ceremony to end, watching his face go from smug to pure triumph. The chosen one for this bathroom, a new born king, a corporate deity.
Our eyes never wavered in what seemed like an eternity, figuring out how to circumvent the outstretched arms of the self-proclaimed bathroom god. I looked on with a mixture of curiosity and disdain instead of the admiration he sought, I finally decided to nudge through and as I did I heard an audible scoff followed by a sneer in the mirror. He crumpled the massive wad of collected towels and blatantly missed the waist bin and he stormed out. I see him around every now and again and he appears as ordinary as ever, but in that bathroom he reigns supreme for he gets two towels at the same time. The rest of us sniveling cowards could only dream of it.
A strategy meeting to determine a better way to plan meetings for enhanced office synergy ended promptly after 5-hours as all involved parties agreed to take it offline. There was talk of tabling the discussion throughout the meeting, but some members saw the initiative as low hanging fruit, and thus it persisted on and obliterated any chance of productivity for the day. Members of the meeting passionately disputed the state of transparency across the department, and furthermore the department’s core competency which happened to be transparency.
The 800lb gorilla in the room was ultimately leadership’s inability to buy into putting all of their cards on the table. They maintained they would only drink the Kool-Aid if the solution was within the industry best practices and also scalable. They failed to mention any specific best practices, but assumed everyone was aligned given that they were after all…best practices. Several other people from middle management endorsed this thought adding that the scalability should be granular while simultaneously staying out of the weeds. This thought seemed contradictory at first, but since it didn’t involve reinventing the wheel, all parties involved agreed it might be disruptive enough to work. So long as of course, the disruption didn’t cause a complete paradigm shart…or shift rather.
The meeting threatened to end multiple times as varying hard stops by participants arose, however it was never completely pencils down as no one could even tell who was running meeting, or if they were actually in a meeting at all. There were several evolutions of the meeting, though no one seemed to notice or care, so long as everyone had their ducks in a row. At one point a pack of stray cats from the alley behind the building paraded around the crowded room before being promptly herded. Someone at one point suggested boiling something in the ocean or seeing if a dog could hunt, both were noted as follow-up items to be addressed at the next meeting. Another person opened the silk Kimono they were inexplicably wearing, before closing it and sitting back down quietly.
The energy that had been dwindling since the first half hour was nearly depleted, until the participants agreed to circle the wagons and take the discussion offline. A recurring calendar invitation was sent to refine processes for sending calendar invitations, and everyone looked forward to the same thing the next week.