I’ve sold clothes, taught journalism, worked construction, written and photographed for newspapers, trained dogs, slaved under the Caribbean sun as a large-scale landscaping peon, and done some things for money that are better left unsaid. What I hadn’t done before is work in a “regular” office. You know, a place where folks wear slacks, nice shoes, and clean shirts so they can sit in front of a computer or answer the phone all day. Torn jeans and a black t-shirt were the nicest things I ever wore during my seven years at UT. Hell, that was my uniform. Now all of that has changed and I’m learning to navigate an office environment while trying to keep my soul intact and using my sense of humor as a shield. Since I’m sure there are many out there in the same situation, I’ve decided to share 20 things I’ve learned recently about acceptable/unacceptable behavior in mainstream corporate America.
1. When they ask you to dress “professionally,” they don’t mean you should wear clean jeans. What they mean is that you should dress like you plan on being an anchor in tonight’s news even if you’re just going to be around the same idiots you’re around every day and already got the gig.
2. When you’re standing around the copy machine and everyone is complaining that the thing is a pain to work with, you shouldn’t say “I think we should carry that fucking useless piece of shit to the roof, set it on fire, and throw it down to the parking lot.” Apparently such language, not to mention the idea of destructing office property, is frowned upon. When no one agrees with you, don’t start dropping quotes from Office Space. On that same note, The Kids in the Hall, 80s slasher flicks, and early Saturday Night Live references should be kept out of all conversations. (Yes, I know how hard that is when you’re next to a copy machine, but you have to try.)
3. If you fail to dress appropriately and a coworker says you “look like a mess,” don’t reply “I’m using my appearance to construct a visual discourse that effectively communicates the amount of fucks I give.” Again, language seems to be somewhat important in the workplace.
4. If a coworker who is either too damn happy or snorts blow like a feral hog every morning comes up to you and says “Smile, Gabino! It’s humpday!” you should not reply “Yeah, but we’re all at the bottom of the hump, looking up at it as we bleed out because fucking Monday chopped off our legs.” If you need to be reminded about language, please refer to point #3.
5. Should you walk into a bathroom and notice that there are individuals occupying both stalls, don’t break the odd, tense silence of the place by saying “Are you two gonna look at each other in the face when you walk out of there or just pretend the whole simultaneous pooping thing didn’t happen?”
6. Similarly, if you’re using the bathroom and someone else is in there, don’t start clapping and screaming “Haha, I’m getting paid to poop right now!” Apparently most individuals would rather take dumps and not get paid for it. Losers.
7. If you see ice cream in the freezer in the breakroom, it’s probably for something. Don’t eat it.
8. Hiding work in your desk drawers is only a temporary measure. It also pisses your boss off quite a bit.
9. When a male coworker shows up a little late and looking a tad rough, don’t yell “Bro, you pay her, give the donkey some water, and come to work, you fucking slacker!” That line is not as funny as you think, especially when yelled in a quiet office at 8:16 a.m.
10. Regardless of their speed and performance, computers in the workplace should never be referred to as “pathetically inadequate pieces of fucking troglodytic assjunk.”
11. When someone calls and leaves a message for your boss, ignore their attitude and drop everything you’re doing so you can focus on writing a detailed note. Under no circumstances should you refer to the individual who called as “some motherfucker” when giving your boss the message.
12. Joking about selling drugs to kids on the side because what they’re paying you is not enough to live is not funny and most people are gullible idiots, so don’t do it.
13. Arguing that a task should be given to someone else because “it’s not metal” is, surprisingly, also frowned upon.
14. Never ask ladies in the elevator if they farted. No one likes your sense of humor and fart jokes should be left out of the office environment.
15. On a related note, don’t make jokes about harassment when someone bumps into you. People freak the hell out when you use that word.
16. The thin Japanese guy from Special Projects who wears his pants really high has a name. You should learn it. Stop calling him Warm Nipples whenever someone asks about him. In fact, talk about nipples, warm or cold, should be kept to a minimum while in the office.
17. The importance of that people are gullible/people don’t understand your sense of humor binomial can’t be thought of as something that can be ignored. When someone attempts to start a conversation and asks, for example, if you have any plans for the weekend, don’t say things like “Yoga pants and murder” or “Devouring smoldering chunks of pig carcass and get drunk enough to forget I have to come back to this awful joint on Monday.” You should try to say normal things like “I’m gonna watch a shitty superhero movie” or “I’m taking my partner on a date to an overpriced restaurant so I can stare into his/her soulless, bovine eyes and feel my life rot inside my body.”
18. Much like nipples, all phrases that include the words death, blood, strangulation, maiming, or that graphically describe shoving an inanimate object up someone’s ass should be held inside until you’re outside the building and can safely scream them inside your car or on the bus.
19. Repeatedly stating that you can’t wait to get the fuck out of the office so you can go home and do really important things and/or “real work” is, you guessed it, frowned upon. Don’t say it seven times a day.
20. Upper Management should be referred to as Upper Management. Rich, fat bastards, lazy assholes, geriatric idiots, and all other nicknames should only be used when no one else is around.