Tuesday, 16 October 2007

Office stalwarts

Wherever you work, there are always certain types of people who pop up – some a joy to work with, some totally impossible. Every time you change job, you think “Thank God I’m shot of X” and then lo and behold, there they are again, just with a different name and gender.

A quick guide to those lovable characters:

1) The Idler. Comes in half an hour late blaming the traffic, a migraine or a sick cat. Whiles away the day looking at Facebook, having snacks, emailing jokes, fixing domestic crises and fiddling expenses. Always claims that that overdue work is “on its way”.

2) The Busy Bee. Works feverishly. Never misses deadlines, whizzes through piles of paperwork writing comments on every line, in and out of the boss’s office with suggestions and project outlines. Sees aimless chatting as a personality defect.

3) The Stickler. Everything has to be perfect. Constantly fuming over messy kitchens, misspelt reports, untidy desks, faulty photocopiers, staple shortages and meetings that start ten minutes late. Scrutinises everyone with a gimlet eye, waiting to pounce on the smallest mistake.

4) The Piss Artist. Has no standards at all. Treats work as a joke, hands in sloppy nonsense several weeks late. Expects workmates to cover for failings. Does the least they can get away with. Spends meetings doodling, checking mobile and saying “Does this really matter?”

5) The Gasbag. Talks non-stop about their family, what happened to them yesterday, their schedule for the next three weeks and their medical problems. If you don’t listen with rapt attention, they take offence and see you as an uncaring clod.

6) The Mute. Only speaks when strictly necessary, when approached by the boss or their pants are on fire. Impossible to find out anything about them except their name and national insurance number*. If you ask any personal questions, they glare as if you were asking about their mother’s sex life.

Of course none of these ludicrous stereotypes resembles myself in any way. Any contrary suggestion and I’ll consult my lawyers Sue Grabbit and Runne. I’m always diligent, sensible, capable and naturally a superb team-player and self-starter.

Except when I’m farting around googling Annie Lennox and the latest terminal disease I’m sure I’ve succumbed to (just joking, boss….)

* (or PPS number in southern Ireland)

19 comments:

Manuel said...

What about the power hungry but insecure maniac who needs everything to be perfect when it cant and goes over the edge ten times a day......that's me!

Manuel said...

well sort of, I have no desire for power now that I come to think of it....

Wisewebwoman said...

For some reason, Nick, I was reminded of the fab series "The Office" the Gervais one, not the poor American imitation.
I've worked with all the characters you describe so well, hard to know where one's self fits now though..... ;>)
I know from time to time I've been them all.....

Nick said...

Manuel - I had a boss like that once, constantly fuming and raging, he was a nightmare. He got his come-uppance when the business was taken over by another company and he got fired. So how do you go over the edge, Manuel, apart from spitting in the customers' soup?

www - Funny you should say that, the pic is actually John Krasinki from the US version. The UK original was brilliant. Of course you're now in the enviable position of being self-employed so it's easier to avoid the truly excruciating individuals (I hope).

Conortje said...

Me too - I'm ridiculously diligent. I never read blogs or make comments while I'm at work. Except this one of course!

Nick said...

Of course, Con, that was just a momentary lapse due to the new pills you're on. And that hour you spent watching the replay of the Rugby - strictly for research purposes, obviously.

Medbh said...

I haven't had much office experience outside of graduate school. Every single day that I went in that looney bin during the M.A. program some woman was crying about how stressed/overworked she was. I wanted to say "there's no crying in grad school!"

I love Annie Lennox, btw.

Nick said...

Yes that's the big issue in offices nowadays, Medbh, how stressed and overworked people often are. The trouble is they usually just moan about it and try to cope rather than protesting and trying to get their workload reduced. Very different from 20 years ago when workplaces could be amazingly easy-going and I would spend half my time reading the papers or gossiping.

I've just bought Annie's new album and I love it.

gayé said...

Office politics and political correctness suck.
Nick, how about the one in the office that doesn't like you but is too spinless to say so, instead does the cold war thing, every step of the way make you feel it but never open enough for everyone else to know. If you happen to ask if there is a problem he/she completely denies it, the sly bastard/bieatch.

I dislike with a passion those who don't have the guts to just say what they mean and mean what they say. In my office Nick, when people would complain about someone who just left the office I'd say something like "but shouldn't you just tell them how you fee?" and I'd get a snicker or a rolling of the eyes to the point that I'd take my leave swiftly so as not to hear anymore gossip... Just as well I guess it's safe to assume they'd bitch about me next.

Caro said...

Ha! I work with three people and one's an idler, one a gasbag (with an extremely annoying gum habit - can talk and chew at the same time), and the boss is a stickler.

Nick said...

Gaye - an excellent addition - the Two-Facer? I agree in theory people should be frank to others, but in practice the atmosphere could get pretty poisonous if everyone's slagging off everyone else. On the other hand, perhaps that would clear the air and bring some constructive responses?

Hi Caro. Long time no see! Come stai? Your office sounds a pretty volatile mix. How does the stickler deal with the idler? And I have to say I find gum-chewing really irritating. Especially when the gum ends up all over the pavements.

Medbh said...

WWW, the U.S. version of The Office is waaaaaay funnier. It's one of the shows I watch every week.

Nick said...

Just trying to make us Brits all jealous, eh?

Manuel said...

"So how do you go over the edge, Manuel, apart from spitting in the customers' soup?"

I am the master of the 1 minute behind closed doors tantrum. The sort of tantrum were people move away and hide sharp objects. Then it's over as soon as it starts and I act as if nothing had happened. That's the bit that freaks the rest out......

Nick said...

Yes, that must be pretty weird for everyone else, Manuel, a sort of bolt of lightning that's over as soon as you notice it. I envy that ability for a quick catharsis though, so many people (including me) can simmer uselessly for hours.

Caro said...

Sto bene, grazie! The idler is extremely good at covering up his idleness. When asked how long a thing will take he works it out then triples it. He does get yelled at now and again for arriving over half an hour late each morning but it's water off a duck's back.

And we don't have that social glue - getting pissed in the pub on a Friday - to bind us together like all English/Irish companies do
*sigh*

Nick said...

Ah yes, the idler is an expert at covering his tracks and making excuses. Must admit I've used a few time-wasting tricks myself, usually as a defence against bosses obsessed with making every second count. Get off my back, slave-driver!

Manuel said...

Tried simmering, it doesn't suit my sunny disposition.....ha!

Nick said...

Your sunny disposition? Glad to hear it. A bit different from some of the surly waiters/waitresses I've come across. Then again, I always give them the benefit of the doubt - they might have just been jilted, or shouted at by the boss, or harangued by a nit-picking customer.