Office Space: The Quirks of a 9 to 5

2 02 2010

Yesterday my roommate and I were relaxing on the couch after respectively long days at work, and she asked me, “Do you ever notice how you always hear people say the same phrases over and over again at work?”

I asked her to give me an example.

“Like, people at my office are always saying, ‘Just another day in paradise.'”

I was immediately reminded of the scene in Office Space when Peter tells Lawrence, “Say Lawrence. When you go into work on a Monday and you’re not feeling too good, does anyone ever say to you, ‘Sounds like a case of the Mondays?'” And Lawrence replies, “No. No, man. Shit no.  I reckon you’d get your ass kicked for saying something like that.”

I reckon I’d kick any coworker’s ass who insisted on saying “Just another day in paradise” at the office on a regular basis.

But if you think about it, jobs become kind of like relationships after a while.  Each office is its own little world, with its own habits and quirks and personalities.  Regardless of whether you love your job or hate it, after you spend 10 hours a day in a room with the same group of people, Monday through Friday, the whole routine becomes a bit of a security blanket.  Everything is an inside joke, people have little nicknames for each other, and you start to look forward to some of the repetitive, mundane realities of day to day life, even if you don’t realize it.

At my current job, the whole staff sits around two big tables in one room.  No cubicles, no offices, except for the bureau chief.  Everyone hears what anyone says, all the time– and while I’ve never heard anyone say, “Just another day in paradise,” thankfully, we do start to develop little office-wide habits after a while.  For instance, there’s always a jar of snacks on the table– sometimes goldfish, sometimes pretzel sticks, chocolate covered almonds at the moment.  Inevitably, someone dips his hand in that cookie jar one too many times, and the rest of the office feels obligated to comment on that person’s gluttony.  “Have another handful of M&Ms, fatty!” “What, did your girlfriend forget to pack your lunchbox today?”

We all share one big phone line, and there’s no secretary, so we answer the phone on a “whoever picks it up” basis.  Inevitably, someone gets flustered and makes an ass out of themselves on the phone, and the entire office hears the whole thing.  A few weeks after I started, Julian, one of the interns, answered the phone, “Huffington Report, this is Julian.”  Everyone died– HUFFINGTON REPORT?! Hahahaha, Julian, how’s the new gig at the Huffington Report?

I was laughing too, until I answered the phone, “Washington Post, this is Laura,” a few days later.  The person on the other line was very confused, my face turned beet red and the whole office went nuts again. OHHHH, You WISH you worked at the Washington Post!

Oh, and here’s one I really had to get used to.  Every day at 5 pm sharp, the whole office watches Glenn Beck– for comedy purposes, of course.  At first I found it unbearable– I would start sweating, squirming in my chair.  “Seriously, guys? Glenn Beck? Why are we watching this?!”  Everyone would just ignore me until I surrendered. And now, if 5 o’clock rolls around and someone forgets to turn on Glenn Beck, I’m the first to shout, “IT’S GLENN BECK TIIIME!”

Everything about my workday, from the bathroom door handle shocking my hand every time to the California Grille panini I get at Corner Bakery every day has become a comfort to me, even if I find those things simultaneously annoying in their repetitiveness.  I can’t imagine what it feels like to get laid off after 10, 20, 30 years at a job.  People must feel so lost.

Do you guys know what I’m talking about?  Do you enjoy the comfort and familiarity of your 9 to 5, even if you hate everything else about it? What are your weird workplace quirks?

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13 responses

2 02 2010
graber

those aren’t quirks. that’s you and your co-workers being a bunch of assholes to each other! it’s like a blogger frat…

sidenote – apparently at the radio station i was known for walking from place to place with a less than pleasant look on my face and people would always pull their favorite line, “having fun yet?” they are all lucky i didn’t shank them.

2 02 2010
Geof

yes, rambler. there is comfort in ritual.
we have about 20 people in a big room with cubicles. i have wondered what it would be like if we could see each other.
all the annoying phrases come from outside my department, which is great. nobody says any stupid shit over and over again. its always new stupid shit. often funny. occasionally mocking.
our coffee sucks. drinking it is not a comforting ritual.
i have a sheet of cardboard on top of my cubicle to block annoying ceiling light. it looks ridiculous, like i’m in a mini-favela, but my eyes feel ok.
probably 80% of the day is quiet. little noises seem big. we use gchat status to complain about the people who make noises. it’s a horribly passive way of dealing. one guy is secretly named J20 after his first initial and the chemical name for water. he glugs and slurps out of his aluminum water container like he is running a marathon inside his cubicle.
we have two big ass baskets of candy and chips that one of the VPs stocks somewhat irregularly. its like a gold rush when they are first filled.
our parking lot was designed for ten cars, but 18 cars regularly park in it. it is a pain in the ass. our COO made everyone repark one morning when an inside space lay empty.

2 02 2010
districtramblings

Haha, yes! Thank you Geof! This is what I was looking for!

Whats up with the lack of commenters these days? Am i getting boring or are they? I know people have funny office quirks to share.

2 02 2010
swirlz

all I know is that there is this strange-looking gay cowboy type whose boots are real old, who wears an even older hat. He wears the darndest belt buckles. And he always eats a sausage, egg, and cheese in the morning. I forgave him once, and then again, for not washing his hands after pissing–the presiding attorney doesn’t either so who am I to go to? Things changed when he dropped a deuce, and yes, walked right past the sink and out the door. Now I burn through hand sanitizer faster than I can buy it, and we’re spreading the word, in order to avoid the next outbreak of course. But does it really fall on me to issue the anonymous note?

3 02 2010
CB

Gross. You need to get on a different bathroom schedule than this guy. Seems you’re meeting in there way too often. Maybe’s he’s following you in…

3 02 2010
districtramblings

haha! it wouldn’t surprise me if a gay cowboy type followed swirlz into the bathroom, he’s very friendly.

but seriously, swirlz- consider an anonymous email. there are all kinds of anon email services out there, i was considering sending one to the portuguese guy with brown teeth. http://www.theanonymousemail.com/

3 02 2010
bros

I believe this is called Stokholm Syndrome.

3 02 2010
bros

also, here are the weird bodily activities that go on in my office.

My boss has acid reflux, so he does this throat clearing for the ages symphony in his office that gags me.

the office manager has ‘allergies’ and is really dramatic about it, so every time he sneezes, he grabs a kleenex, sneezes the loudest decibel sneeze known to man (they are always very juciy) throws himself back in his chair, and his feet leave the floor, his lips flap together in reverberation, then his feet come crashing down on the floor so hard I feel the vibration in my office, then he continues blowing into the kleenex after the sneeze has ended and I can hear the kleenex rifling and scraping around in his nostrils because I have preternaturally sensitive senses. the other day he lifted his shirt up so I could see his MRSA-infected hair follicle on his chest that he had to go to the doctor for. sometimes he goes to the back room to loudly and with viscous enthusiasm, snort Afrin.
When we have meetings and need to update the project board, he goes to write on it and squats down, and we get a picture of his ass crack every time because he either wears no underwear, or they are lowriders. Both my boss and my office manager are gay, and I cant tell if this is an unspoken flirtation tradition or what, but I am sick of his hairy asscrack.

3 02 2010
CB

Who drops a deuce at work anyway? Shouldn’t he be doing that at home before he leaves? I mean…you can train yourself, you know?

3 02 2010
Vjane

Now that this conversation has gotten below the belt, so to speak, I have to disagree with CB. One cant always determine when their body needs to drop a deuce. Perhaps he eats his sausage and egg and coffee on the way to work and then like most of us after breakfast, it is time to drop your deuce. Now – I worked for a small bookstore years ago and there were two of us working there with the owner. We always tossed a coin to see who would go in the back room with Mrs C. to check on books or whatever, because every time Mrs. C leaned over, she passed gas big time. Hopefully you werent stuck behind her. At least we were spared looking at a hairy asscrack.

3 02 2010
womanofNL

My boss breaks out wine every friday at 5 pm. This serves two purposes: signaling the end of a work week and reducing my ability to get to the gym after work on Friday’s to practically nil.

But I think what this post is really about is the custom of socialization within whatever organization you are a part of, whether it be cultural, familiar, corporate, religious etc. By eventually becoming a part of those habits and daily traditions, you have been successfully socialized and prove your evolutionary ability to adapt to the status quo.

It’s like in Mean Girls, when Katy’s parents send her to public school. They wanted to socialize her! Do you want to see how many other posts I can relate to Mean Girls?

3 02 2010
AtoP

(great topic LB)

Sooo, I had a summer job with a gov’t agency….

I had a deaf woman on one side of me who had circle K mirrors on her computer monitor in order to see when someone walked up behind her. She never conversed, but could scream the most offensive curse words 2-3 times a day.

Then there was this woman in the cubicle next to me. She cracked pistachios faster than a parrot and rambled about the latest episode of Survivor with her sister via speaker phone for hours. (this USB rocket launcher would’ve come in handy> http://www.thinkgeek.com/geektoys/warfare/8bc4/ )

And how could I forget the anonymous flatulence bomber, we all heard it, but no one ever claimed it. I had my suspicions, but I hear he/she remains at large.

Working in a cubicle blows. My happiest memory was leaning back in my desk chair in order to peer through the window in the office across the hall. This was no ordinary window, it had a great view of the mighty Mississippi River–but only when the neighboring industrial smokestacks weren’t clouding my view. I would just smile and think to myself, oh the irony of working for the EeePeeyA.

6 02 2010
MLW

If this isn’t a “Smith” conversation, I don’t know what is.

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