How to survive in the workplace, or be killed in the attempt

Office 1940_Accounting_Work_Room_First_Nat_Bank_of_Chicago_OM

Why is it that on the first day of vacation I always feel as though I have run a marathon and wake with all the feelings of a hangover, having not consumed a drop of drink? Term exhaustion I guess!

This term we had a group of trainee teachers at the school and one of them (a girl!) almost set the staff kitchen on fire, and that led me to thinking about staff room rules. We all know the frustration that goes before someone sticks one of those “your mother doesn’t work here” signs above the sink, and the plaintive email that gets sent requesting “would the &()^%%#@#$@% person who took the CONTAINER WITH THE PADLOCK, CLEARLY MARKED NICOLE AND WITH THE SEARCH LIGHTS AND GERMAN ALSATION GUARD DOGS CIRCLING IT FROM THE STAFF FRIDGE PLEASE RETURN IT, AS IT HAS MY EXPRESSED BREAST MILK INSIDE,” that has everyone sniggering at Nigel who has a milk flask pressed to his lips as he wonders why everyone is looking his way.

So, I have started to make my own list of dos and donts. Obviously as number one, especially if you are hoping for a full time job is don’t burn the place down!

1. Take your own cutlery – no one ever does more that a quick flash under the cold tap so take your own.
2. Having a mug that has your name on it, or “I love my Mummy” emblazoned on it, will not stop the big hairy guy named Boris drinking from it. My mug has my name on one side and Queen of the World on the other side – no one uses the Flamingo Dancer cup; mainly because I keep it on my desk!

3. Staff “bring a plate” parties – means bring something to share. If you are going to be the cheese and kabana sausage girl stake out the claim early and stick to it, though be warned that after morning tea meetings may reek of garlic. If you have a signature dish that wows everyone away never bring it, unless you want to stand at the stove at 10 o’clock at night after football training, dance lessons or a gym workout.

4. If you are whispering about someone and they walk into the room, don’t suddenly raise your voice to twice its normal level and say ” and then you add the flour” as it is a sure give away that you were talking about that person.

5. Never tell anyone that you heard “Bruce has got the promotion before they even advertised the position!” until Bruce actually gets the promotion. Then you can start the rumour about Bruce and small boys.

. If you use the microwave and something spills, clean it up.

The staff fridge is not the place to incubate your cancer cure, take it home.

Don’t take a lunch box the size of a small van to work and squeeze everyone else out of the fridge, either.

If the employer doesn’t provide milk, don’t use other people’s milk. If you agree to share make sure you take your turn at providing it. A long life milk in your desk drawer will solve all memory issues when it is your turn!
10. If you have cheap shit teabags, don’t exchange them for colleagues’ expensive imported tea. Also with empty food containers – if you use recycled take away containers, don’t exchange it for the Tupperware in the dish drainer.

11. If you go to another staff room, don’t assume that their beverages are your beverages. People count their coffee beans.
12. Flush the toilet. Use a brush if there is one…
13. Don’t announce that you always unlock the door before you wash you hands in the bathroom. Yes you did, and we are still talking about you!
14. When a colleague turns their back on you and starts typing on their keyboard they no longer want to know  “you know what they should do…”. Leave their office.
15. Politeness doesn’t mean they agree with you.
16. In a group setting don’t talk about anyone, especially the boss, unless you have clear sight of every entrance, and you are leaning against the wall so no one can approach from behind.
17. Also, in a group setting, never count on the volume of chatter staying at the same decibel level. Someone should do a PhD research project on predicting the time that silence will fall in any group setting.
18. Always pay your social club fees even if you don’t participate. You may at least get a pathetic card when you leave.
19. Always sign the group cards even if you don’t know the person “you know the Asian guy on the third floor”, because the person taking the card around will tell every person signing after that. Colleague didn’t sign a couple of cards this week, only to be presented with a signed card for her birthday at the same morning tea…awkward

Never use the excuse ” I don’t have any money with me today” as an excuse not to buy a ticket in the chook raffle or lucky number bingo, as they always reply “you can pay later”, for once just be honest and say “no thanks” no explanation but if need be say it is against your religion, unless you are catholic because everyone knows Catholics gamble!

21 Don’t ever give anyone a solid glass paper weight – they may be tempted to use it against you.

22. If you know someone has a HUGE dog, don’t end every, and I mean EVERY conversation with “when are you going to bring that puppy into work?” Colleague is doing that to me, and I shared my annoyance with Minerva, I mean Augie Dog is fully grown and a BIG boy, and a school of 900 plus kids is not the place for him, and now when Minerva hears the remark she starts to snigger, so  I have to put up with the irritating “when are you going….” as well as Minerva sniggering.

So, what sage advice would you share with the about to be initiated?

10 thoughts on “How to survive in the workplace, or be killed in the attempt

  1. Funny and so true.
    Many of these apply to my student days 30 years ago when children got their first days of freedom and were genuinely surprised when beds didn’t make themselves, pots didn’t wash themselves and clothes didn’t magically appear clean and folded in their drawers. I was with a guy when he ran out of t-shirts and he was astonished that the drawer was empty. I couldn’t stop laughing to explain about laundries and irons.
    I may use that phrase on my blog header “Just because I’m polite doesn’t mean I agree with you.”


  2. My old office had a microwave oven which some mysterious person would heat spaghetti in without covering the container first. As a result, the interior was always spattered with tomato sauce. Once in awhile one of us would become so disgusted we’d clean the oven, only to have the damned thing coated in tomato sauce within days if not hours. (That “one of us” was often me.) Finally, the microwave died, probably from horror at having its insides repeatedly desecrated. None of us wanted to replace it, so after that we had either cold lunches, or had to find a microwave in one of the other departments. We never found out who the phantom spaghetti eater was, but we heard the other departments complain of finding their microwaves coated in tomato sauce.

    Anyway—always keep a bottle of dishwashing soap or cleanser next to the sink with a clean sponge (ha—it won’t stay clean long, I promise you). Encourage people to use them often.


  3. Do NOT reheat your fish dinner in the microwave that’s directly under the air intake valve.
    Do not leave your dishes to soak in the group sink – unless you’re okay with me throwing them away because I don’t care to navigate your filth in order to wash my dishes.
    Run the garbage disposal once in awhile.
    If you take the last drop of coffee, MAKE MORE. I am really annoyed with getting to work at 1 and finding a completely empty pot 4 of every 5 days. I get that you might take nearly the last drop and not know it – but if that thing is dry then you KNOW you took all of it and if I figure out who you are, I will cut you.


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