06 June 2013

Coworkers who will not take a hint

You know that one coworker in particular who truly gets under your skin, the one who makes you so angry you can barely stand being in their presence? Let's start with the fact that this guy types loudly and annoyingly. It's as though he's slamming his fingers into the keyboard with each stroke.

Then factor in the fact that he sits within mere inches of you, literally, right behind the thin cube wall you're facing. He's facing you. It's creepy. It feels like he's breathing down your neck. You can even smell his foul breath wafting over the cube wall some mornings. It's your personal space you feel is being violated, just listening to him smacking keys and screaming on the phone. Another coworker mentioned once, 'he doesn't know what an inside voice is.' I told her, 'I know, I have to re-read whatever I'm reading 10 times because of the noise interference.' The sad part is, even when he talks low, it is an annoying low decibel, a forced low level. Like a pubescent boy, his voice cracks.

This is not even the worst of it. His mega eavesdropping tendency takes the cake. Yesterday, I was on the phone and saw an indication that a gmail chat had been initiated. It was no one other than prepubescent boy of course. He told me what to tell the person with whom I was talking. Okay, let's gear up for this. Upon starting the phone call, I hear sticky-fingers really tune into what I'm saying. The typing gets softer. Call it my sixth sense but I know he is leaning toward the cube wall, listening to my every word. I wait for it. As expected, he cannot resist his urge. The gmail chat box arrives. It only takes reading the brief message to send me even further over the edge I am hardly clinging to, moments prior. 'Tell her to contact company X and tell them to do Y,' it reads. Mind you, I have been working in my field for over five years. This loser has only been working in the field for a mere year or two, yet thinks he is doing me a favor by giving me advice. By the way, how are you giving someone advice when you are only hearing one person's end of the conversation? Furthermore, why are you listening to the conversation? Don't you have work to do, something to occupy your mind? Mind your own business and leave me the hell alone, I want to shout.

Starting to type a response, yet deleting it after deciding I will not entertain his unsolicited input, I continue chatting with the woman on the other end, trying my best to maintain my composure when all I want to do is run over to his cube and bitch-slap his ass. My mind is now hovering above the conversation and is full of myriad ideas on how to sock it to this ignoramus. After some back and forth, the phone call comes to a close. The aggression within me is brewing to an intolerable level. Imagine a pot full of spaghetti boiling, the water now foaming on high and about to overflow. It's too late, the volcano has erupted. As soon as I hang up, he starts talking to me about the conversation. I then respond in kind that I could not advise the caller as he had recommended as it's not my position to do so. Very diplomatically, I tell him what he said to do was not appropriate. He then agreed that I could not have said what he had told me to but tried to make an excuse for his instant message which had indicated otherwise.

He asked what the rest of the conversation was about and I summarized it in about five seconds, suppressing my anger. I think I came across as nice, not the intended effect. This kid never stops. Maybe I did not respond in a harsh manner and tell him outright that I am sick and tired of his eavesdropping, but the fact that I don't engage in lengthy banter with him should signal that I'm not interested in interacting with him, period. Earlier that day, I was on the phone with a woman assisting her with some concerns on a file I am handling and he once again seized the opportunity to engage in a conversation with me. He stated 'That sounded fun,' as soon as the call ended. I briefly summarized that conversation. Even though my answers are always brief and it's so obvious that I do not like him nor do I have any desire to communicate with him, he doesn't get the hint.

Today, he comes up behind me. I am facing my computer. Without saying my name, he just starts rambling on about he hates how certain callers pronounce a word a certain way. I continue my typing and looking at the screen until I feel bad and finally turn around, and say, 'Really, oh,' trying my best to convey yet again I cannot stand this kid, holding back my true feelings. What is it with people who approach your desk and start talking to you with your back facing them? Is it not common courtesy to first state the person's name and once you have their attention (ie. they have swiveled in their chair, are now facing you, and are in effect acknowledging that they are open and ready for conversation) before continuing on with your piece? Take for instance, this coworker who is very experienced and with whom I occasionally consult for advice. Anytime I approach his desk, I first say, 'Hey Ben...' and once he's looking at me, I proceed. It is an imposition to ramble without those initial prompts that demonstrate respect for the other person rather that demanding attention. My boss has this same bad habit as 'annoying coworker.' He'll stand behind me and start mumbling without warning, and I'm like, 'Um, hello,' do you mind telling me you're there before you start spouting at the mouth?

It reminds me of freshman year in college when these two girls who were friends with my roommate would knock once, barely, and proceed to jostle the doorknob, forcing their way through the door. My roommate was hardly there when they would do this. She'd either be in class or home for the weekend. Never would these girls knock and stand there like normal people, waiting for the door to be opened by the occupant inside. They would literally knock and then open, almost simultaneously. It was so unnerving to have these two people barge into my room, laughing like Frick and Frack who had just done something so mischievously prideful. If you want to piss me off, charge into my personal space one too many times. After it kept happening, I caught on to their little ploy and as soon as I would hear their voices or any small sign that gave away their presence at the door and the impending idiocy of unwanted intruders, I would run over, lock it, run back to my desk, plop myself in my chair, and revel with great joy at their futile attempt to charge through the door. It was actually quite hilarious. 'Nope, sorry,' I would think, laughing as they would try to enter without permission, only to be greeted with the bang of the locked door.

Getting back to this annoying coworker, another reason we do not mesh well is the fact that he loves to talk and it's not just that, but his conversations always center on work. What happened to people who like to shoot the breeze and chat about other things rather than work work work. One time, at a company luncheon, this kid was seated across from me (as luck would have it), and the entire time, he gabbed about work. Not one utterance of his did not pertain to work. There is also the fact that he talks fast and he is very awkward and uncomfortable, in that he will sometimes start talking to me and then I'll respond and the conversation will drop off, no response received from him even though he is the one who initiated it. For instance, he asked me yesterday, 'Did you hear what I said?' 'No,' I responded. 'What did you say?' No response. It's bizarre and frustrating to placate someone's desire to talk and then receive no response to a simple inquiry which was merely uttered in consideration for that person. Don't worry, two can play this game. I've been nice far too long and it's no longer about that. It's about respect. I have enough respect for myself not to let this guy intrude upon my space and time, and private phone calls. From now on, I plan on responding as I see fit and I will speak my mind.

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