I’ve worked a number of jobs in a variety of offices over the last couple decades and it never ceases to amaze me just how offensive co-workers can be, regardless of the company’s caliber. I’m not referring to blurted-out remarks that reveal way too much about an individual’s values or his experiences in a bathroom stall (not that such a brand of offensiveness doesn’t exist – that’s another blog post altogether). The offenses of which I speak pertain to attacks on our five senses – the sorts of attacks that evade the senses of HR reps during digital interviews.
For those of you who work in rather compact office quarters, you know what I mean. We all tend to take our five senses for granted until a neighboring office worker unexpectedly intrudes upon one or more of them, typically with something they’re wearing, listening to or eating in an effort to appease their own senses. I trust that coworkers do not rile our senses intentionally (“This liverwurst ought to show him who deserved that promotion!”), but even those who are oblivious to how their own behavior offends anyone within a 20-foot radius sometimes deserves to be hosed down by a fireman.
Below are the five senses I take into work every day and the top five respective offenses to my senses as committed by employees that were clearly hired by someone other than me.
“I SEE You!”
Worst Offense: Screensaver photos showing the birth of your child. I have no idea why HR won’t let me flirt with my supervisor but you have a free pass to download images of your placenta.
- · Ambient light control freaks
- · Halloween partier wearing the same mini skirt from high school graduation… class of 1966
“I SMELL You!”
Worst Offense: Perfumes and colognes by the pallet. All cilia in my sinus cavity is paralyzed. Most of the hairs in my nose have fallen out and my eyebrows are under way. I don’t care that we’re saving money by no longer needing the exterminator because those funds are going right back into re-painting the walls around your desk. Puh-leeease.
- · 28 year old Birkenstocks
- · Burnt instant coffee
“I TASTE You!” (Errr…?)
Worst Offense: “Experimental” meatloaf at potluck. Is a potluck really the best time to try cooking something you’ve never prepared before? Good intentions aside, your meatloaf looked shockingly similar coming out to how it looked going in. (Sorry, now who’s being offensive?)
- · The gum I didn’t know was found in the men’s room until after I ate it
- · The vegan brownies that replaced eggs with marmalade
“I FEEL You!” (Ummmmm…)
Worst Offense: Breath on my neck as we review a report on my monitor. This would be less of an offense if you weren’t a mouth breather. Or if you didn’t drink burnt instant coffee. I’m not sure if that’s sweat on my neck or steamy residue. Does it matter?
- · Room temperature Nazis
- · Body pressed against mine in the elevator, and we’re the only two passengers
“I HEAR You!”
Worst Offense: ________ music – fill in the blank. I realize music is a matter of personal taste, but I’m tired of accidentally slipping into a southern drawl while on the phone with tech support. You’re also sucking up our bandwidth, which slows down my World of Warcraft gameplay.
- · Non-stop talking about everything except work
- · Questionable stomach gurgles (are those all coming from inside?)
If you’re guilty of committing any of these offenses of the senses, please take this opportunity to make some adjustments to your behavior. Ask yourself if you can stop the offenses or if it’s time for a career change. I’m sure you’re a good person and the work you do is swell. I just want to stop wishing you away from my cubicle. Oh, which reminds me…
“I SIXTH SENSE You!” (+ 1)
Worst Offense: You don’t like me but you said you did when I asked you at the picnic. If you like me, why are you visualizing me driving my car off a bridge? And why is my cat in the car? I’m sorry about your allergies but masking tape only removes so much fur. Don’t think I don’t know what you think. I know.
Runner Up: I see dead people. Duh.
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