You walk into the office on Monday morning with a chip on your shoulder. You need to know what happens, but you have your co-workers commit to a code of silence. If you’re that one guy (every office has that guy), you make sure to spoil everything because that’s who you are.
Don’t be the guy in the office everyone else avoids. Chances are, even if you find it impossible not to spoil a good series, your co-workers still avoid you for another reason.
Listen up, you with the shiny shoes, trim suit and perfectly coiffed hair. You’re about to be educated on just a few of the office environment’s primordial sins. I mean, no one expects you to be perfect. Even I wouldn’t expect that of you.
But I happen to like my job, and I don’t feel like I’m struggling to find my place within the pecking order. Get that notepad ready.
Here are six things to avoid doing that would make everyone in your office hate you:
1. Chronic Lateness
Shit happens. You have a long commute, and the train gets stuck. Your car breaks down. You overslept because you failed to heed the warning, “May cause drowsiness” on the bottle of pills before you popped one to relieve some of the tension and anxiety you felt after barely making a dent into “Making A Murderer.”
Be late too many times, though, and you’ll forever be The Office Drone Who Cried Wolf.
This is a special distinction reserved for the men and women who are forever pariahs and will always remain untrustworthy, regardless of the quality of the work they contribute.
If you can’t get yourself to the office on time, how can anyone expect you to meet a deadline on an important project? How can you be expected to be present for group projects?
When you’re late, life passes you by.
You’ll be the last one to know that the cute receptionist with press-on nails is pregnant with the boss’s baby, and that is no way to live.
2. Annihilating The Restrooms
People always know who was last to use the restroom. People always know, so don’t assume anything less. So if your regular trips to Chipotle have a habit of backfiring (aka firebombing the restroom with tear gas and bad memories) you better believe everyone knows.
People will deliberately avoid using it for an extended amount of time after you’ve left your mark on the premises.
In fact, the most intelligent of the lot make a mad dash for the facilities when they know you’ve gone out for your lunch hour. Everyone around you silently cheered when they heard Chipotle will be closing its doors for a few hours.
You will be forced to find a new haunt (if only for that day), and you will be flustered by the many (sort of passive-aggressive) recommendations of what appear to be the blandest of salads.
3. Bad Hygiene And Body Odor
Have you ever run into someone with body odor so acute, strong and permeating that it may as well have its own budding and individual personality?
Have you ever noticed that the very people who have detailed conversations with you never seem to be aware they have a scent?
If this is you, then you probably don’t even know that this is you.
You are immune to your own filth at worst, and you are indifferent to deodorant and regular showers at best. But allow me, dear office drone in training, to be fair to you for just one moment when I say that sometimes, this is something you may not even be aware of.
But you want to know because you have a soul and (possibly) consideration for others.
Case in point, once upon a time, I had roommates who were so filthy that it seemed as if we were in a state of total war. I showered every single day and scrubbed myself raw, while they sat and watched the cat bat around empty cartons of Chinese food with reckless abandon.
They were in a sea of Coca-Cola cans stretched out for as far as the eye could see. I thought I was doing my part. I thought I was doing enough. But the smell of the house, of old food, of floors sticky with corn syrup and of old cat litter had permeated every article of clothing I owned.
I was unaware of this, of course, because I’d grown accustomed to it. I was unaware of this until I was called into a meeting with HR, where I was dressed down and humiliated.
Forgive me, for I was young and did not know any better. I’ll forgive you, too, because I’m not heartless. But, you cannot expect that level of courtesy from anyone else.
It’ll be just another nail in the coffin for you, and your tombstone will say, “He was that guy.”
4. Being A Slob With Farm Animals For Parents
Should you remember to regularly clean up after yourself, the gods of the break room and its adjoining common areas will thank you kindly.
So, don’t be that guy who lets the janitor pick up after him because that’s “his job.”
The janitor is the one with the keys to the bathroom, and he will withhold them from you because he knows (yes, he knows) you are the one who is causing his hair to turn prematurely gray.
One day, he will withhold them during the middle of the cleanup that’s keeping him away from his wife and kids, and he will be perfectly justified in letting you shit yourself all over the floor as a result.
Don’t turn your desk into a minefield where it’s impossible to locate things should you need them. It’s your desk, but have some pride, damn it.
Everyone already knows you’re the Chipotle catastrophe, so you may as well not allow your desk to give others any indication that your home life is a complete mess.
5. Being A Loud Chewer (Or Just Noisy In General)
I had a co-worker way back when (he didn’t last long) who talked loudly, laughed loudly, spoke about his sex life loudly, played music in the break room loudly and who seemed to have been born with a megaphone glued to his mouth.
There is such a thing as an “inside voice.” It exists. No one wants a headache at work. Can we all make a commitment to make work as stress-free as humanly possible?
Oh, and perhaps the most egregious of my former co-worker’s errors was his gum-chewing. Now, I can’t really say that this bothered me. I can’t say I notice these things much of the time. But trust me when I say that the people in that break room were ready to star in their own season of “Making A Murderer.”
Noise is distracting. No one needs to tell you that twice. You learned that in kindergarten, didn’t you? It was one of the fundamentals of nap time, an often derided tradition when practiced at work.
The layout of the office environment also plays a big part in this one as well, so don’t think you’re entirely at fault here. Just know that everyone else will make it your fault anyway.
Warehouse environments — with everyone lined up next to each other and bottom feeders and supervisors collaborating side by side — are becoming ever more common.
But, it’s a lot easier to become distracted in that sort of workplace environment than it would be if you had the liberty of your own office and the freedom to shut your own door.
Either way, the point still stands: Please be considerate of your neighbors.
Don’t give them another reason to hate you; they’re hard at work digging up dirt on you as it is.
6. Being Irresponsible (And Taking Credit For Other People’s Work)
Stop doing that. Stop taking credit for other people’s work. You ain’t the boss. This ain’t “Working Girl.” The only person who can get away with this should be your superiors, and don’t you want to stand united with everyone else in hating them together?
But let’s be serious for a moment here. This happens more often than not. It’s messed up, and no one likes to work somewhere where people challenge or demean his or her integrity.
Have integrity. Own every project you take on.
Fess up when you’re wrong, or when you can’t meet a demand or deadline in time. Fess up even when you know you’re right, so you can become someone to stand by. Be that change others want to see at work.
That sounds like something everyone should do, but not everyone does it. Don’t decide to do this because it’s convenient. Choose to do this because it matters, even if all you do is fetch coffee all day and text nonstop when (you think) no one is looking.
Those who do this are truly original.
I know you’re not perfect, and I know this list can’t possibly tell you everything. You’re also going to be inconsistent, and you’re going to do things to save your own skin (the degree to which you do so may set your reputation as that guy forever, so be careful).
It’s a tough world out there.
The cost of living is high, wages are low and the bar you set for the amount of drinks you can get away with tossing back on a Wednesday night is even lower.
Now get out there, soldier. Make me proud, and for heaven’s sake, take a shower.