update: coworker is constantly eating, burping, and watching YouTube videos and then asks for hugs

Remember the letter-writer whose coworker spent the day eating, burping, watching bizarre YouTube videos, and then would ask her for hugs? Here’s the update.

After suffering through increasingly obnoxious levels of gross from my office mate, I finally could not take it anymore and decided that I couldn’t continue to sit there day after day, desperately thinking of ways to cling to my sanity. I had to come up with a short term plan in addition to a long term plan that would include finding other employment eventually…but in the meantime, I was in no position to quit my job because some asshat was looking for pervy hugs and endless YouTube entertainment. I may have mentioned this already, but I am a 40-year-old widowed mother of two small children, which means I am my only source of health insurance and income. My late husband had no life insurance at the time of his death, so it’s not as if I’m sitting on a small nest egg that I could use to tide me over until a better job opportunity came along. I have to be practical and provide for my children and if that means putting up with uneducated swine at my office, then so be it, but I was hoping to find a way to make it more tolerable.

Since my office is a very small world, so to speak, I was worried about repercussions of my complaining or “tattling,” as it was sure to be seen as. One day I finally decided that I simply didn’t care if I looked like a whiner to everyone else once word got out that I complained about this otherwise sweet, funny, endearing hillbilly that everyone else adored. I knew my boss well enough to know that while he may end up telling the offender it was me who complained, a passive letter to him about the situation would get his attention and force him into action. I’m a bit frustrated that he didn’t nip it in the bud in the first place, but that’s reality.

I wrote my boss a quick and short but very pleasant email, requesting that I be allowed to wear ear buds while at my desk. I went on to say that I would still be able to hear the phone to answer it, would quickly take them out when anyone came to my desk to speak with me, etc. I cited the loud music videos and tractor pulling contests on YouTube and such as “a bit of a distraction when I am entering data or conducting business on the phone” as the reason for my request.

I knew for a fact that I would never be granted permission to wear earbuds; it’s just not feasible in my job. Of course that’s not why I wrote the email to my boss. I simply wanted him to be aware of a TINY amount of what was going on and I knew that this was a way to have him address the issue. Within minutes of sending the email, my boss, who was actually out in the field working, got the email on his phone and called me immediately. He was concerned, and we never addressed the earbuds at all but instead got to the heart of the problem and he said he would take care of it immediately and if the behavior continued, he wanted to know ASAP. By the next morning, the office mate made himself more scarce and did not blast the videos and 1970’s era old timey country music performances as he had been.

I did not get blowback from others in my office, but I did have some very loud comments made to me by my lovely officemate, only when my boss was not around, naturally. There would be a little conversation between him and other workers and all of a sudden he’d raise his voice to make sure I heard him and say something like, “Well god forbid I look at a YouTube video.” Or “You all better not click onto YouTube because apparently it ‘bothers’ some people around here.” Quite typical comments that someone would expect to hear coming from a narcissistic asshat.

Things were much better. The slurping and burping and belching and such were still a problem but at least the blaring bullcrap had stopped. Interestingly, he decided to retire a few months later. I guess coming to work just wasn’t as fun for him anymore. Besides the birth of my children, his first day of his retirement was one of the best days for me. I feel like my sanity is somewhat restored and I don’t feel as much dread when I am at my office.

Overall, I do feel that I need to find a different job, one that fits my personality better. My job is stable, although not particularly well paying, and generally the people I work with are great and helpful. I work for a small city government and unfortunately most of the interactions I have with the public are negative because they are usually very angry about a slight they think the city has foistered upon them…like requiring them to actually pay their utility bill. I am a very non-confrontational person and I also don’t think paying my own way is a bad thing, so it’s a bit unnerving to be in a job that in itself requires me to enter into combative situations with a public who has no problem calling me names or making outrageous demands that no sane person could fulfill..and even if I could, these same people would complain that it wasn’t good enough. There’s a lot of negativity and it’s killing my soul. I do need to find other employment but I’m not sure what that would be, to be quite honest. In the meantime, I have to make do to provide for my children and suck it up when the going gets rough.

I hope my update is helpful to anyone else that may be reading about it..or at least gives someone else a bit of a distraction from their own belching, slurping, hugging perv at the office.

{ 78 comments… read them below }

  1. Bryan*

    I’m glad your situation has at least partially improved. When I worked a retail job I would try and slip in something to angry customers about how I’m not the one who set the policy. For me it was I didn’t set the price of this or I didn’t create the rules for the coupon.

    To the slob I would have simply gone, “Sorry you’re slacking off is getting in the way of me doing my job” and then went back to whatever I was doing. Probably wouldn’t have helped the situation much but this guy sounds like a burden on the office.

  2. Jamie*

    I’m glad your boss took it seriously and it helped.

    I really do applaud your ability to work through this – this would have been a very challenging situation for me.

  3. JulieInOhio*

    Glad to hear it has improved and best of luck on finding something even better. And whaddaya mean I gotta pay this @&*#)@ utility bill?!?! Can I pay in hugs? ;)

  4. BCW*

    I looked back on the first one, and realized I had a similar reaction. To be clear I’m not defending his questionable Youtube videos at all, but I think you could have just asked him to wear headphones if the sound was bothering you. However, it seems you are personally attacking this guy WAY too much for someone who didn’t really do anything to you, just did his own thing that YOU found annoying. I mean lets look at some of the words in your fairly happy ending update. You call him gross, pervy, a hillbilly, and a narcissistic asshat. You attack the music he likes. Kind of wonder if you may be a bit of a problem in the office yourself and have a sense of entitlement. You also took the most passive aggressive way out of things possible. Maybe I missed it, but from what I saw, you never actually asked him to calm down, just went to his boss. You really don’t seem like a picnic either to work with.

    And if the day he left was one of the happiest days of your life, you must have lived a pretty bad life. Sometimes I can’t understand how people let work affect them so much.

    1. AMG*

      I think there are certain standards of behavior that the average person adheres to because it’s not only generally socially appropriate, but certainly professionally appropriate.

      He should do his own thing at home and act like he has some manners and dignity while he’s around other people. He sounds self-absorbed, boorish, and yeah, a total asshat. And he needs to stop acting like a creeper asking for hugs. He isn’t a preschooler. It’s weird.

      I also think you don’t realize how much this kind of thing can wear on a person. She isn’t living a bad life, she’s grossed out. I would be too. It was probably such a huge relief!

      1. BCW*

        I guess maybe my point is that everyone has had annoying co-workers, but I don’t think its necessary to attack the person at that level. I can not like a guy I work with without calling him all sorts of names which the poster has done.

        1. Jamie*

          I think it’s easy, when you have legitimate issues with someone, to let it color your opinion of them personally. It’s something people should guard against because, as this illustrates, it can lead to the valid concerns getting lost in the personal attacks…and that’s not fair.

          I would have a really hard time working with someone like the person she’s describing (the food noises, mostly) but how much he weighs, or his taste in music, what he wears…none of that matters and it all seems kind of lumped together for the OP.

          1. Mints*

            Oh, so guilty of this. “I hate his stupid smug face” is something I allow myself to think. But every once in a while I do a mental inventory of real issues. That way when I talk about problems in a professional setting, it’s easier to separate and I can talk about it without saying “And he smells bad too!”

    2. Rosalita*

      I agree with some of BCW’s points. I’m not defending the coworker’s behavior either, but I feel like it affected the OP more than it should have. The reason I wrote my comment below is because I saw so much excessive bitterness come through in the way the OP talked about her coworker. I have a family member who is a widow, and she constantly complains about work and is just a really unhappy and negative person. Of course her grief and pain is valid, but it permeates and colors everything she does and says, and frankly it makes her miserable to be around. Yes, the coworker was gross and annoying, but if he got to the OP so much, there’s something else going on with the OP. When I was younger, I was in a job that I hated, and my boss was making me miserable. One of the best pieces of advice I got: “You can’t control other people’s actions; you can only control your own reactions.”

    3. Brittany*

      I actually totally agree with you. I was sympathetic to the LW’s original letter and was excited to see there was an update but this letter comes off very entitled and passive aggressive. The guy may be a douche, yes, but the LW acted no better by finding a weird loop hole to tattle to her boss under the guise of headphone use. I can see doing that if you actually confront the guy politely with your concerns but doing it without that step just seems calculating and justifies him being kinda pissed about it.

      I just recently found out that one co-worker who is always nosing in my business went to our shared manager saying that I “shared my opinions too much, too loudly” (which isn’t even close to true considering she is the one always sticking her nose in things and I don’t talk to her about things unrelated to work or complain). I was so annoyed that she was one way to my face and another behind my back that I lost complete respect for her. If she would have addressed me directly, I could have talked to her about it. My manager thought it was BS and never even mentioned it to me.

      Basically, respect is a two way street and you need to give it to get it.

    4. holly*

      some people just can’t handle constant loud chewing and belching on top of repetitive sounds from a youtube video. this would be my nightmare situation if it was happening in a place i couldn’t leave (my desk at work). every day. seriously. i’m not really sure how any of that is appropriate behavior while working. appropriate for one’s own couch at home, maybe.

  5. AMG*

    Grody. I worked with someone like this once. His name was ‘Cheese’ and he smelled like unwashed feet. So glad your ‘Cheese’ left.

  6. Kou*

    Well. This update makes me feel a whole lot less sympathetic toward the letter writer than I did before, I must say.

    1. Forrest*

      Its all the side comments that have nothing to do with anything.

      Like, its great you believe in and can pay your own way LW. Not everyone can. Lets climb off our high horse, shall we?

    2. a nonny*

      Same, although the seeds were there in the original letter too. Not excusing the behavior, but there was already a heavy layer of judgment of the guy’s interests, appearance and class (he’s obese, he’s a “good ol’ boy”, he watches tractor pulls) from the letter writer right from the beginning, and it just got worse in this update. I mean, seriously, “hillbilly”?

      1. Tyrion*

        It’s ok to judge people. Not all judging is bad. Some people are disgusting. Most of these things wouldn’t have bothered her at all if they weren’t done in the office.

    3. BCW*

      Agreed. I didn’t feel a ton of sympathy the first time because of the personal attacks, but this time I have none

      1. Anonymous*

        It’s obvious from many of BCW’s posts that he doesn’t have much respect for women. Too bad that BCW can’t work with the OP’s former co-worker! They would get along just fine.

        1. BCW*

          I’m glad you feel that way! I do think its funny that others, and yes even women, share my opinion on this, but of course, I must not respect women because I feel she attacked the guy personally. I’m glad that you think you know me so well by what I post on an internet message board, yet you remain anonymous so no one has any idea about any of your opinions, except that you think you obviously know anything about me.

        2. Elizabeth*

          Alison’s (hopefully) not following the comment thread, since I believe she’s still on her honeymoon, but in the past she’s often asked commenters to keep things civil and not attack one another. Whether I agree or disagree with BCW, I think your response crosses a line there.

        3. A Bug!*

          It’s interesting that you would say that about BCW’s “posting history”. Because I disagree vehemently with your assessment and find it unnecessary regardless.

          BCW’s posts, in my perspective, have expressed a consistent set of beliefs which, while often unpopular with some of the more “social-justice-minded” commenters, is hardly misogynistic. I do think it would be fair to say that BCW’s comments suggest he believes that some people are too quick to read improper (creepy, sexist, racist) motives into others’ behavior.

          But BCW has always been game to discuss those beliefs without bringing personal attacks into the mix, and it’s not fair to him to make a comment that’s clearly intended to shut him up because you don’t like the things he tends to say.

          (I’m not making any statement on what he intends to express – I could be wrong in my understanding – but this is my read of BCW from the comments of his I have read.)

          1. Rana*

            Agreed. I do not often agree with BCW, but I’ve never found him to be unreasonable – just holding points of view different from my own.

            1. Sandrine*

              Another +1 in support of BCW. What I love about the AAM commenting community is that we can share different points of view like adults without putting words in people’s mouths or anything like that.

              This is what makes us a super badass community, don’t you think? If all corners of the Internet were like here… aaah the dream…

          2. BCW*

            Thank you very much. I know that my opinions are often in the minority, but its nice to know that you guys do respect my views and have my back when being attacked :)

            1. KarenT*

              Add me to your supporters :)
              I don’t always agree with you (though sometimes I do) but I’ve never thought of you as anti-woman.

              1. LJL*

                Nor have I. I have found you eager to consider alternate explanations, but that is indeed a good thing in my book.

            2. Katniss*

              I don’t comment here a bunch, but I lurk and have been described by friends as “annoyingly feminist” and have never found you anti-woman. I’ve got your back too.

  7. evilintraining*

    Thank God! Now his wife can listen to all that disgusting racket.

    I work in collections, so I know what it’s like to have to deal with people who are angry and negative. I’m able to let it roll off my back, but it’s definitely not for everyone. I hope you find something better soon.

  8. Rosalita*

    OP, I’m glad that the situation improved. You have my sympathy for having gone through that, and I’m glad things are better for you. However, the tone of your letter makes it sound like you are really unhappy, beyond just this job. I obviously don’t know you and am only reading into what you wrote, but it seems like you have a lot of negativity and bitterness in your life which really comes through in your words. You mention that you’re going to look for another job, and perhaps that will help, but it seems to go deeper than that. I can’t imagine how hard it must be to lose your husband and to be raising your children alone. I hope you are seeking help and support. Talking to a therapist, if you aren’t already, could be really helpful.

    1. Lynn*

      My thoughts exactly. Being a single mother most likely makes it all the more difficult to vent all that can get pent up in one’s life! I don’t know if this is allowed on the blog, but I would recommend a website called “7 cups of tea” (www.7cupsoftea.com). It’s an active listening service that sounds like it would great for this kind of stress and life situation. Definitely not therapy, but still a great way to be heard and process your thoughts.

    2. Anonicorn*

      Hear hear. I also think the OP should have directly asked the guy to turn down the volume, put on headphones, eat in the break room, etc. before contacting his manager.

      However, I will say that for years I had a lot of trouble being direct like that because it seemed (to me) like I was the one being rude, and it was somehow easier to allow annoyances to continue than have any sort of potential confrontation. I don’t know if that’s the OP’s case, but the anger I’m reading in her letter seems an awful lot like what went on in my mind when I allowed things to continue well past the breaking point.

      1. tcookson*

        I think the problem is that, in being “non-confrontational”, one passes on to others the responsibility of doing due diligence in situations such as the OP encountered. I am not very “confrontational” myself, but I always try first to work out problems with the person in question before passing the buck to someone else. It is the minimum required in mature, adult interactions. It just isn’t fair to expect someone else, even a manager, to handle ALL the dirty work that a “non-confrontational” person doesn’t want to sully herself with.

        1. Bobby Digital*

          Yeah, I agree with you in principle and it’s an important point. I think it’s common to mistakenly conflate confrontation with immaturity (e.g. language like “take the high road,” “be the bigger woman,” etc.).

          That said, there are many exceptionable situations. From what I can tell, I don’t think this OP is in one; it’s hard to be sure because she’s a pretty unreliable and unsympathetic narrator. (Like, maybe the hugging thing, though. That might beg for a third party.)

    3. Cheryl*

      I didnt read negativity into OP’s response at all. She has a negative sense of humor as do I, but that is far different than being negative. OP seemed more matter of fact to me, stating how she felt with the events that have taken place thus far.

      Regardless of whether OP’s resolution was passive agressive or not, it worked. And I believe she mentioned that she had addressed this once before and her boss did not directly address the issue enough for the behavior to stop. If I know my boss is non confrontational and I need something done, then I am going to use the tools I have to accomplish that goal… You cannot praise folks for being innovative and creative problem solvers and then chastise them for the methods they took to resolve something…

      1. Bobby Digital*

        –“You cannot praise folks for being innovative and creative problem solvers and then chastise them for the methods they took to resolve something…”

        Yes, you can. I mean, you do know that this is flawed, right?

        By this logic, if I praised Dennis for being direct and decisive with his team, I wouldn’t be able to chastise him for walking in and saying, “I’ve decided I’m not going to be here on Fridays anymore. See ya.”

        –“If I know my boss is non confrontational and I need something done, then I am going to use the tools I have to accomplish that goal…”

        I think the flaw with this statement is the first clause. A better workplace mentality would be “if I need something done, I am going to use the tools I have to accomplish that goal.” Your boss is one of many tools.

  9. Cath@VWXYNot?*

    The hugging thing alone is enough for me to take the OP’s side on this. If this guy didn’t know how absolutely inappropriate that was, he wouldn’t have waited until everyone else was out of the office. He doesn’t sound safe to be around, let alone to confront directly about his behaviour

    1. BCW*

      Oh come on. I think deeming the guy unsafe to be around based on what we know is a huge leap here. He sounds like an older guy who is just very friendly.

      I get that not everyone likes hugs. Nothing at all wrong with that. I think a person is well within their rights to tell someone that they prefer not to do that. But it doesn’t sound like she ever did that, and she is just making the guy out to be some kind of pervert for no reason.

      I swear, I think some people on here would rather the office just be a cold unfriendly place where you can’t discuss anything person, have any contact outside of a handshake, and everyone has no opinions on anything.

      1. Forrest*

        I think waiting until everyone is gone before going over and standing next to to the LW to ask for the hug is the scary part.

          1. BCW*

            Fair enough, but I still don’t know that I’d label him as unsafe to be around. Thats a BIG accusation with no proof. If she feels uneasy around him, thats a valid point, but again it doesn’t seem like anything says he is a threat to her safety.

            1. Anon*

              Have you ever heard the term Shrodinger’s rapist?

              Basically, many women tend to treat men that act in ways that set off alarm bells as potential attackers. Not because they all are, but because they *might* be–you just don’t know if they will until they do.

              That means men who approach women at night, pursue inappropriate physical contact, change their behavior while they’re alone, or do any one of a thousand other things that make women uncomfortable get viewed with suspicion. Because there *might* be something to it–not every guy who does those things is unsafe to be around, but some of them are. And you know what? It’s not worth it to find out if you’re right or wrong when the penalty is assault.

              Here’s a really good article that explains it better than I ever could: http://researchtobedone.wordpress.com/2012/10/18/for-those-who-dont-understand-schrodingers-rapist/

              1. BCW*

                I”ve read it. I understand the “gut feeling thing”. And as I said, I’m fine with you having that gut feeling and wanting to avoid the guy. I’m just saying labeling him as unsafe is a jump. Even if you feel that way. I can have a gut feeling someone is racist, but I’m not going to verbalize that and label them as such to others without actual proof or at least actions beyond a gut feeling.

                1. Anon*

                  That’s easy to say when you’re not the one worried about being assaulted.

                  Am I saying that she should start telling people at the office that he’s unsafe? Or spreading rumors? No. But she has every right to articulate why he–through his own actions–makes her *feel* unsafe around him.

                2. Elizabeth West*

                  Except there is A WORLD of difference between someone who holds racist attitudes and someone who assaults people. If I have a gut feeling that I’m about to be assaulted in any way by someone, I do think he may be unsafe and I get the f**k away from him.

                  Perhaps you should read The Gift of Fear. Guts are smart–many people don’t pay enough attention to them. No matter whether he assaults someone or not, his hugging behavior (and his disruptive crap in general) is highly inappropriate.

                3. BCW*

                  Full disclosure, here is my problem with the “gut reaction” thing. As a black man who lives in a predominantly white area, I experience a lot of “gut reactions”, especially from women, and it sucks. If I’m in jeans and a hoody, a lot of women’s “gut reaction” is to cross the street and clutch their purse closre if they see me walking toward them. Anyone who knows me knows I’m one of the most harmless people ever, and my only fight was when I was 9 years old. They don’t see me as a former teacher with an MBA, they see me as a threat. “The Gift of Fear” and “Schrodingers Rapist” etc, while they are very valid points in theory, often in practice seem like thinly veiled racism (I’m just referring to my experiences). If you have read my previous posts, you will know that I’m one of the last people to call things racist just because, however these things happen. I’m guessing most people on this board can’t identify with others being fearful of you just because of your race and gender. So yes, I often defend the male point of view because of how much it sucks to have people afraid of you because of what their gut tells them, even with no real basis for it.

                  I understand that this guy did something to creep the woman out. However, like I said, to say he is unsafe or as someone suggested instituting a buddy system just seams like a stretch. Again, until you have had that feeling of people seeing you as a possible attacker at all times, you can’t relate.

                  I’m in no way trying to lessen anyone’s experience, just sharing a bit of what its like on the other side

                4. Elizabeth West*

                  Well, I’m sorry you live in a neighborhood full of knee-jerk racists–that utterly sucks. Not to mention being stupid, because they’re probably not paying attention to things they actually need to be paying attention to (in general) because of their stereotypes. But this particular situation we’re discussing has nothing to do with race and everything to do with behavior. The way this guy acts may or may not be dangerous, but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s inappropriate.

                  de Becker’s book, along with good personal safety instruction, doesn’t talk about visuals–it talks about behavioral cues that trigger people’s intuition and to which they should pay attention. Most people are raped, molested, or killed by someone they know, not by some stranger in a hoodie. This is why personal safety education is so important.

                5. AMG*

                  Ugh–that is truly a shame. I believe that the gut reaction is separate from social conditioning, but that a person’s social experiences can jnfluence their reactions. I believe that if the purse-clutching women were to really take a look at how their gut reacts independently versus what they hVe come to believe about someone (e.g., a black man wearing a hoodie) , they would be better off. Everyone would.

                  Not sure if that makes sense…

              2. Cath@VWXYNot?*

                Yup. If a female colleague ever told me that a male colleague had approached her when there was no-one else around and asked for a hug, I would immediately implement the same “let’s-make-sure-no-one-is-ever-around-this-guy-alone-again” buddy system that was put in place before my time in a temp job many years ago, where all the women in the office felt totally creeped out by a close-standing boob-starer who’d done similar things in the past. Regardless of his intent, the buddy system made everyone feel much better.

          2. Jamie*

            Devil’s advocate – with the people from the field in the office he may have been working or talking to them and when they were alone he was bored and trying to interact.

            I’m not giving him a pass on creepy though. Anyone old enough to have a job should know better than to ask anyone for hugs…and the fact that he watched the bikini contests on line and then asks for hugs…that kind of behavior makes people wary of you. It’s creepy.

            I think what happened here is as a result of death by a thousand office annoyances the OP just came to hate every freaking thing about this guy. Regardless of the reason she was one open wound when it came to his behavior so benefit of the doubt was never going to happen on anything.

            And BCW is right in that we don’t have enough information to determine he was a perv – but when you watch suggestive videos at work and ask co-workers who don’t like you for hugs you run the risk of people thinking that about you.

            1. Ellie H.*

              I agree. I think a lot of us can relate to having that one person who does something that annoys us, then another thing or more things that annoy us, then eventually every. single. thing. the person does drives us ballistic and we cannot bear to be in the same room with him for another moment. Maybe an objective third party would, upon meeting him, think “Huh, that’s an annoying behavior” but would be capable of tolerating it in much smaller doses. Complaining about someone is never very wholesome and in the big scheme of things, it’s not really ideal behavior, but it’s more than understandable and a very human thing to do. This guy just sounds so obnoxious and, in particular, inconsiderate.

      2. Jen in RO*

        This made me laugh out loud. I do have the same feeling sometimes – and I’m glad that I’ve always worked in offices that were very warm, friendly places!

        And I tend to agree with BCW on this – I wouldn’t label the guy unsafe… but he *is* creepy and I’d try not to be around him too much.

    1. Lynn*


      I grew up in a rural area (meaning most cities were between 300-2,000 people), and the dynamics and politics can just be ridiculous…. and boundaries? Ha.

    2. Jamie*

      Ron would not tolerate the noise, Tom wouldn’t tolerate the country music, and Donna would go on leave until he changed out of his overalls.

      Besides it would have been addressed. Anne would have given him something for his sinus problem, Chris would have coaxed him into fitness, and Ben would have introduced him to Game of Thrones and Batman so at least the videos he watched would have been more entertaining.

      And Leslie would have prohibited noisy food and put him on waffles only. They are a quiet food.

  10. khilde*

    In the meantime while you are still at this job, I really encourage you to check out this book as a resource. This entire site that I’m linking to (Angry Customer.org) has a LOT of the book on the site so you can really get a feel for the content without buying the book. The book itself is an amazing resource. Designed specifically for dealing with hostile and abusive customers in the public sector. There’s stuff on here that I have not found in other customer service materials that nails it for government employees. Good luck.

  11. Anonymous*

    I’m kind of surprised that there is so many posts against the LW in this thread… I mean, come on, it sounds like this was the worst coworker ever (maybe not ever, but still). Can you imagine dealing with this for 44 hours a week? Of course she’s going to pass judgment on him. I would have reacted the same way as her. Yes, it was a little passive aggressive tactic wise, but some people really can’t handle conflict and this was what worked for her. Update from readers can be anything… It doesn’t have to by a streamline account of events that took place. I didn’t mind reading a little bit extra to get a feel for who the person is and their situation.

    Anywhoo, good for you LW! Hang in there, you sound like an intelligent, well meaning individual and I hope you get a break in the job search!

    1. rlm*

      That’s how I feel as well. I get the impression (especially based on the original letter and her comments in the original post) that she is just using a bit of humor to paint a colorful picture of the situation. I didn’t take it with the passive-aggressive angry tone that others are noting. I am not clear on why the earbuds suggestion got her bosses’ attention when the straightforward approach didn’t, but it worked anyway.

      I guess it’s just hard to tell when it’s just in writing what the sentiment is behind the words.

  12. Lanya*

    OP, not sure if you have tried this tactic when receiving angry phone calls from your constituency…but sometimes you can get a customer to calm down by genuinely saying phrases like “How terrible! That must be a very difficult situation for you…” or “I’m so sorry to hear that – I would also be very frustrated, if I were in your shoes!” before attempting to address their issue. Sometimes it can diffuse the anger, or at least take the edge off, when people feel they are being commiserated with. Just my two cents, although I’m sure you have already been there, done that many times.

  13. nyxalinth*

    One thing I’ve learned over at the Customers Suck community on Livejournal (the title is rude, so the comm is used to rant about egregiously bad customers, not petty annoyances of day to day having to do one’s job, and there’s a lot of rules about how to post) is if the details aren’t 100 percent vital to the post you’re making, leave them out, or you might find yourself the subject of more criticism than the person you’re friping about.

    The fact that he’s a hillbilly in OP’s words, blasts music she hates, etc. is not relevant. The relevant facts are “He was inappropriately huggy, played his music and videos too loudly, eats too loudly, and burps too much.” The added details just make the OP sound like a judgmental snob.

    I will say it’s very obvious that your job makes you miserable, OP, and that along with the loss of your husband (you have my condolences on that) are making you more sensitive to things that might not otherwise bother you.

    1. A Bug!*

      I like ‘friping’. I think it deserves a definition. Maybe, ‘griping which is exceptionally frivolous or petty in nature’.

  14. LCL*

    Requesting to wear ear buds is exactly the indirect way one has to do this kind of thing in government employment. The complainer has to be able to show that they are trying to be a team player and figure out practical solutions to their problem, and then run it by their management. This gives management the cover to tell the annoying employee ‘stop being annoying’.

    Management won’t act in the first place because singling out an employee’s annoying behavior can be seen by the annoying employee as throwing the gauntlet. The annoyer’s behavior has to be seen as somehow interfering with production, otherwise it is just a personal quirk and leads to all kinds of accusations of favoritism.

  15. Lamington*

    OP good for you! i had a similar coworker that was connected to Skype all day at work and would tell his relatives and friends to call him since he was not doing anything at work and he was bored (his words). He would chat all day in Spanish thinking people couldn’t understand him (but I could). He would complain snd complain and I could hear him even with my headphones and a cube wall between us. I asked him to speak softer and he was mad and acted all offended as I was the one inconveniencing him. so this continued and my next complaint was to his boss and i let him know everything that guy said and how he was always Skypying. the next day you could hear a pin drop in the office, not a peep!

  16. WWC*


    You are not being too sensitive. You handled the situation well. It is not your job to manage a co-workers behavior. Think about it: loud YouTube Videos played for entertainment at work. The co-worker was behaving far outside the norm.

    I am sorry about your loss, and I totally understand why you mentioned it.

    Good luck!

  17. Working Girl*

    I am so glad your boss dealt with this positively for you. So many bosses just pass this by since he wasn’t seeing it himself so I’m glad he believed you and took steps to correct it. I’m also glad for you the jerk left. I love hugs….but at work??? You or someone else could have had him up on sexual harassment charges.

  18. VictoriaHR*

    Glad it worked out! Dunno why Asshat couldn’t have used his own earbuds, then he could have had it as loud as he liked. Anyone who thinks their own music/video/noise > anyone else in an office environment needs to be stabbed in the eye with a spork. But politely.

Comments are closed.