I once shared an office with a man who, when I asked to borrow his scissors, threw them over to me. They landed on the carpet between our desks, and the resulting standoff lasted until the cleaners picked them up 10 hours later.
This same guy also used to eat a yoghurt each morning, lick his spoon clean, and then put it back in his drawer for re-use. And he would comment each time I reapplied my lipstick, which was unnecessary scrutiny for my poor chapped lips.
But gosh, I did love that guy – we were work spouses.
Anyone who works in an office knows that enforced intimacy of shared workspace leads to these sorts of situations – but not everyone is as lucky as I was to actually like the person despite his many annoying habits (and questionable taste in work wives).
The Out Loud team discuss how to tell if you are being gaslighted at work….
Take office politics, plus annoying habits, plus people who would otherwise not be friends, and you get the pettiest complaints imaginable – just Google “Sh*t my workmates complain about” and you get articles like “An Honest Guide to Dealing with Dicks at Work” . Terrible for those involved, but glorious for the rest of us to read about.
Another example is a recent thread on Mumsnet, where a user posed the question, “What’s the pettiest work drama you’ve ever been involved with?”
After sharing her own anecdote regarding unrequited love in the workplace, member IntrinsicFieldSubtractor asked others to comfort her by revealing their own pettiest office nightmares.
People were happy to oblige, detailing the worst office politics they’ve witnessed. The tales were so bad that after reading the horror stories, some people with kids said they were glad to be stay-at-home-parents.
Foremost amongst the grievances were unnecessary and long meetings - a torture we can all relate to. One user wrote: “They discussed cleaning the microwave for one hour in a team meeting.”
Another said: “Managers’ meeting spent a considerable time arguing about what colour folder was to be allocated to different categories of file. Once the decision had been made, and after the meeting, one colleague continued to lobby for his own choice of folder colour at every opportunity.”
As to be expected, kitchen hygiene was another contentious issue: “An ex-colleague, who had gotten rather too used to having the office to herself before I started, once went off on me because I didn’t bring her dirty mug out to the kitchen ... She also complained I typed too loudly to the boss and asked him to intervene.”
Food in general is a major source of complaint in every office. On the Mumsnet thread, one user shared this petty example:
“Someone reported my friend for eating boiled eggs several desks away from him as he believed she’d done it deliberately as a form of bullying. She was annoyed at being called into the office and being grilled quite seriously by two managers over it, so she wrote a statement to them in her defence, titled ‘I ate an egg sandwich’.”
In all of my own years of sharing of a kitchen with colleagues, I've noticed that it seems to be one of the most problematic areas of working in an office - with smelly food being the biggest - and often pettiest complaint.
In my experience, the moment you hit the microwave with your deliciously-filled Tupperware, someone seems to always magically transpire to share the following commentary:
“Oh my god! What is that? Is that curry? Is that fishhhh? Is that food releasing a poisonous toxic lethal gas that will infiltrate our lungs and kill us all after it’s inconvenienced us for about three minutes??"
And it's usually followed by a passive-aggressive note on the microwave about smelly foods tainting other people’s lunches, or an email to the entire department outlining courtesy and respect for your colleagues by not bringing food that distracts them or makes them nauseous.
I've always felt that complaining about food that has a scent when heated is so privileged - it's the ultimate First World problem.
But then again, maybe that's why I haven't been able to find another work husband.