By: Alex Schechter
A good office is like a well-oiled machine. Deliberately placed parts toil diligently and according to a carefully thought out plan, while on the surface, everything is masked by a smooth, steady veneer of calm. So even when you’ve stumbled upon your dream office (where t-shirt-wearing employees take everything in stride and sip cappuccino in well-lit lounge areas), there is always a way to screw it all up and make them despise you. Here are a few suggestions on how not to ruin the dream.
1. Don’t heat up seafood in the office kitchen.
Bringing home-cooked meals to the office is a great way to save money as well as bond with other food-minded coworkers. Maybe you can even make an arrangement to share hot sauces, or get tips on particularly office-convenient recipes. However, before you tote in that pan-fried shrimp, remember one thing: if you heat up seafood in the microwave, it will smell like vomit. The entire office will be treated to the musty stench of your warmed up crustaceans, and you will not be thanked.
2. Don’t get a haircut right before coming to work.
Appearance is key. If you’re a guy who lapses easily into that Joaquin Phoenix-yeti look, you should plan regular visits to the barber. However, between your shearing and the office, be sure to give yourself a thorough brush-down, and, if possible, a shower. Otherwise, tiny hairs will rain from you like volcano ash all day long. They will get in your keyboard and cause regrettable typos. Your coworkers will dub you “confetti head.”
3. Don’t post public notices in the building elevator.
Certain office building customs may seem foreign, or even irksome to you. Like, why do people on the second floor of the building really need to ride the elevator? Can’t they just use the stairs? Acting upon this frustration, maybe you take it upon yourself to print out an Elevator Etiquette Manifesto, in limerick form, laminate it, and post it in the elevator for all to see. This would be a grave misstep, since no one likes to read public notices, let alone talk, while riding the elevator. Keep those limericks to yourself.
4. Don’t accept responsibility for any kind of “master key.”
You may think it a huge feat of maturity to be entrusted with the office master key. Maybe your boss told you they were giving you a copy “just in case.” As honored as you are by this new responsibility, you only have one course of action: just say no. Before you know it, you will have absent-mindedly misplaced said key in some obscure corner of the office, to be discovered by the cleaning lady, and subsequently, all promise of future promotions will be revoked.
5. Play it cool when your supervisor’s son visits.
Little Aaron is no longer a boy. And each time he comes to visit his mom, you notice traces of his developing manhood: a bulging adam’s apple, biceps, a goatee, maybe even a subtle but incredibly handsome piercing. Do not comment on any of this. Do not ask to “feel his muscle.” Just point the way to his mother’s office and keep busy.
6. Don’t make fun of people who eat from the vending machine on a daily basis.
The midday snack attack is killer. And everyone is susceptible to it, so there’s no use passing judgment on those who indulge in a little 85 cent pick-me-up. Snickers, Doritos, a strawberry Pop Tart—does anyone actually want to be nourishing themselves on empty calories? No. But until the vending machine companies figure out a way to supply us with yogurt parfait and fresh hummus, we’re all stuck.
7. Don’t invite craigslist hookups into the office at night.
It’s late. You’ve now been in the office for a solid twelve hours. You’re alone, and horny. And you’ve already spent the last twenty minutes fantasizing about boning. So you decide to post an ad in the Craigslist personals section, upping the kink factor significantly with your suggestion of “hot, dirty, office bathroom sex.” This could be your most detrimental move yet, so better refrain from such a despicable urge, and stick to Internet porn.
8. Don’t spray any perfume, cologne, or air freshener anywhere.
Maybe you decide that a great way to bond with a well-liked coworker is to spray her perfume all over yourself. She smells great, so maybe you can too! And maybe it will be something you both can laugh about for days after, in fits of spirited, unrestrained, camaraderie-boosting mirth. This could have turned out well, if that cloying aroma didn’t hang in the air for hours, and cause an allergic reaction amongst several employees.
9. Use a coffee mug when you drink alcohol.
It’s 4pm, and you realize, by some grace of God, that you’ve finished all your work, and, though you can’t very well just head out, it’s time to celebrate! So you head into the kitchen to whip up one of your famous Appletinis in a very conspicuous wine glass you find on the shelf. Which might be a relatively unsuspicious move if you were locked in a bathroom stall with the fan on, and flushing the toilet every time you poured or took a gulp. Assuming that’s not how you want to spend the last hour of your workday, just use a coffee mug.
10. Don’t use office supplies to operate a bootleg DVD business.
An abundance of office supplies—padded envelopes, packing tape guns, fresh Sharpies—can become a serious temptation. You could create a scaled model of the New York City skyline with all those staples stashed away! Furthermore, if you ever decide to start up an eBay business on the side, you would have more than enough resources in the office to do so. But remember: where there is a cabinet overflowing with pens and thumbtacks, there is a nearby office manager just waiting to bust your sorry ass. So keep your entrepreneurial ideas outside the office, and go shopping at Staples.
OK, so we got a little creative. But just like Murphy’s Law says: anything that can go wrong, will. Have you found your own ways of turning entire offices against you? Share!