Surviving A Co-Worker Is A Lot Like Surviving A Lover


Have you ever had to deal with a co-worker who was so irritating that you wanted to punch them hard enough that Uncle Sam felt it? It’s like the depths of their irritatingosity (not a word, but go with it) knows no bounds, and it comes in different forms, depending on the person. It could be that they’re one of those talkative types who never shut up! They may be an awful gossip, and waste no time in divulging the latest scandal (real or not) of another co-worker. Sometimes they’re those who are clearly unhappy with their lives and need to make it their life’s mission to make you just as unhappy… bonus points if they’re the type to either constantly complain or constantly make a report to a superior. There are also those who are so inept at the job that it sometimes powerfully takes you aback that they can even differentiate between their elbow and left butt cheek. Whatever form this co-worker takes, you feel that you deserve an award at every staff meeting for not grabbing the nearest stapler and smacking them upside the head with it.

I, unfortunately, have found myself paired with one of those. In order for you to more accurately understand the situation, let me explain our work arrangement. This guy and I are assigned to one office, and we’re in charge of its maintenance and smooth running. One of us works the first half of the day, and the other works the latter half. Now, I’m more familiar with the running of the office, so I’ve assumed more responsibility than him, but we’re still supposed to share duties.

Ha! Share! It didn’t take me long to realise that this guy and I were polar opposites! I hate to admit this, but I’m something of a perfectionist (shocking, I know) and, as far as I’m concerned, everything in the office has a specific place and, unless they’re all in their assigned locations, there is no order in the office. He, evidently, subscribes to the more free-thinking philosophy that as long as shit isn’t on fire, all’s good in the hood.

At first, I completely dismissed this and simply felt that I had to pick up his slack to ensure that order was maintained. And, for a while, this seemed to work well enough except that I would always come down with a case of Communal Workplace Nausea (webMD needs to make this a thing) whenever I thought about my shift taking over his. Things really hit rock bottom when I came in one morning and I literally froze in the doorway with my mouth wide open at the state of our office. Remember that scene from Mrs Doubtfire where Miranda (Sally Field) walks in as a petting zoo takes over their living room? Yeah, I realised that I was an official adult when I finally understood why she divorced his ass (RIP Robin Williams).

To put things into a little more perspective for you, understand this: there is a cleaning company which sends a couple of its employees every morning to service the office but I made sure to remove all evidence of this guy’s messiness because I was too mortified for professional cleaners to have to see it. So, yeah…

It was at that point that I knew that something had to give. Later that day, when he came over to take over, I knew that I had to confront him, although I really didn’t know how he’d respond. I mean, not that I really cared because I couldn’t have been more in the right than I was, but the fact that we were literally the only two people working in that confined space made me not want to create any unnecessary tension. So, calmly, yet firmly, I explained to him that what he did could not be repeated in future – in hindsight, I probably should have used a better term than “that shit can’t happen again” – but, to my relief, he understood and agreed (after, of course, trying to excuse himself with some bullshit excuses that I wasn’t interested in hearing… I swear to you, that I was literally legit using a stapler at the time and I still didn’t smack him with it.)

After that, I definitely noticed a change. I can tell that he makes more of an effort to tidy up after himself – although his idea of “tidy” and mine are so different that if they were twins, Danny DeVito and Arnold Schwarzenegger would still appear more identical.

All this insane rambling was just to point out that, although our working together may not be an ideal situation, the two of us can still maintain a type of harmony and I realised that a working relationship isn’t all that different than a romantic one. It’s two people from two different completely different backgrounds coming together to eventually realise that the more time they spend together, the sicker they’re getting of the other person until one day, one of them decides to scream bloody murder at the other and leave in a dramatic flair of… no, hold on, that’s not the right analogy…

Seriously, in any type of relationship, the individuals who are involved are going to realise that there are huge differences in personality and actions. They can either make a huge deal about it, force the other person to try to change and doom it from the start… or, they can communicate the issues to each other, try to find common ground and then work towards a healthy solution. Really, the only difference between an office relationship and a romantic one is no hanky-panky –  if for no other reason than, you know… security cameras.

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