why the littlest things at work can be so maddening

Judging by the mail I get at here, a lot of us feel quite strongly about relatively minor things at work.

Some pet peeves make perfect sense, like being annoyed with people who leave food splattered inside the microwave or thinking dark thoughts about that guy who takes all his calls on speaker phone.

But sometimes the things that most get under our skin look awfully insignificant from the outside — like someone leaving papers on your chair or the way your coworkers do or don’t greet you in the morning. At Slate today, I wrote about why little things at work can feel so maddening.

{ 655 comments… read them below }

  1. CommanderBanana

    I had no idea people felt strongly about having papers left on their chairs. I prefer it because my boss has a habit of leaving papers face down on my desk without letting me know, and I may or may not find them.

    1. Edianter

      If it’s suuuuper urgent, I’ll often leave important papers on their computer keyboard, so they can’t miss it. (If it’s not suuuuper urgent, I’ll wait and give it to them when I see them at their desk.)

      1. CoolCucumber

        If there’s a clear space on their desk that isn’t already taken up by papers, I’ll leave it there, but otherwise I leave it on their keyboard so it’s not “just another paper” that will get lost. Either way it gets a neon post-it note on top.

        I wouldn’t be mad if someone left papers. on my chair, but sitting on it and wrinkling it is a real possibility, so I’d prefer they not. (My desk is always super organized and clean, so there’s usually lots of space to just leave papers or folders where it would be obvious to me that something was new.)

        1. Emilia Bedelia

          This is where I come down on this issue- my desk is empty most of the time. For my coworkers whose desks are always covered in papers, I understand the need to leave it somewhere more obvious, but if there are literally no papers on my desk, the thought that I would somehow miss one that someone left there is strange. Papers next to my mouse will always get my attention. Papers on my chair will surprise, confuse, and then anger me when I sit on them.

      2. Fortitude Jones

        I like the keyboard move because I’m more likely to notice the papers there – laying them on my seat would cause me to either absentmindedly sit on them or, if my chair is pushed in, drop them on the floor after I pull the chair out from under the desk.

        1. Elizabeth West

          Me too, for the reason in your last sentence. I’ve pulled the chair out and then had to crawl under the desk to get the papers when they fell off.

          1. Fortitude Jones

            Same. And to make it worse, this would happen every time I was wearing a dress, so crawling around on the floor in a dress is not my idea of a good time, lol. I was always afraid people were going to see my underwear.

    2. Jedi Squirrel

      Papers face down on my desk are designated for the recycle bin. I might accidentally recycle those without giving them a second thought.

      Put them on my desk, or on my chair, and leave a sticky note on them telling me what you need me to do, assuming it isn’t painfully obvious (i.e., the weekly TPS reports).

      1. Herder of Butterflies

        I posted this below, but I’m adding it here too: We have staff, more than one, who place their own papers on their own keyboards as a reminder of stuff-to-do. New papers are seen as a “oh, I left this here myself and didn’t remember” and are thus moved aside without being looked at. Placing papers on the keyboard is a definite “no” here. (And we don’t have in-boxes, being pretty much a paperless office. So chairs it is.)

    3. Jaybeetee

      I think the original conversation focused on someone who had a visible in-tray, and a body ignoring it to leave papers on the chair was perceived as being rude or even demeaning. My own boss has left items on my chair a number of times, and I’ve never given it a second thought. But I also don’t have an in-tray.

      1. hbc

        Yeah, without an inbox, there’s really no good place to leave papers to make sure they get seen but somehow not send the message that you’re demanding immediate attention. And I’m guessing the people who don’t use the box treat their own like a vague “I’ll get to this someday” collection, and project that on to the recipient.

      2. Mel

        Yes, I had an in box and it was infuriated to me that one coworker would ignore it an place papers on my desk. The desk was fine at other jobs, but not when I had an in box that was being bypassed. And especially not after I asked her to use the inbox multiple times and she point blank refused (we’re also talking about really low priority paperwork)

    4. Zombeyonce

      I think the wildly different opinions on this likely align with the wildly different state people keep their desk in. I imagine that if my desk was pristine and everywhere clearly where it belonged and neat, having something put on my chair would be annoying and make me feel like they thought I needed reminders.

      Conversely, if my desk was basically just a repository for papers with stacks everywhere that may make sense to me but just looked like a jumble of paper to everyone else, putting a paper on my chair would make sense since otherwise it would just be lost in the mess on my desk and I’d be grateful for the obvious separation.

    5. Thornus

      I had a boss who told us to put papers in her chair when it was time for her to review them. Then she complained about people putting stuff in her chair and said we should never do that – put it on her desk instead. Then she complained papers were getting lost. So she got an inbox. But then she complained it was always full. So put them on her chair.
      She was horrible.

    6. Constance Lloyd

      I used to dislike papers on my chair for, admittedly, no real reason. So I mentally reframed it as someone having the courtesy to acknowledge they didn’t know my preferred method of filing and allowing me the opportunity to do it exactly as I wanted. Instantly less annoying.

      1. BethRA

        This is why I will put things on someone’s chair if they’re not around – I don’t want them to miss/not see them, and I don’t know where the person wants to put them.

        I had no idea that anyone found that so bothersome, but I guess I’ll be asking!

        1. Constance Lloyd

          Asking isn’t bad, but it can be a lot to keep track of everyone’s different filing preferences! Learning to not be annoyed has been a much more effective solution for me. I’ll save my ire for people who don’t clean up after themselves.

    7. Oxford Comma

      I didn’t realize this was a problem for people. It just seemed less disruptive than me putting it on top of other papers on a desk, as most of us don’t have traditional inbox/outbox trays.

      1. Clisby A Williams

        Yeah, there’s been at least one looooonnnnggg thread on leaving papers on a chair. I’m still baffled by the people who are bothered by it, and read all kinds of weird things into it (“It’s disrespectful!” “It’s saying your work has top priority!” And the like.) No, dudes, it’s just saying “Here’s something new.” That’s the beginning and end of it.

        1. Alienor

          I’m baffled too! My job is verging on paperless these days, but when I first started in this field years ago, we routed a LOT of things for approval via hard copy, and it was standard practice to put them on people’s chairs if they were tied to a deadline. (Inboxes were usually overflowing because again, lots of paper.) Even now, I wouldn’t be either surprised or offended to come back to my desk and find that someone had left something on my chair to review or just to pass on to me. Why would they put it in some random spot on my desk where I might not see it for hours?

          1. Seal

            The leaving papers on my chair thing make me irrationally angry because at a previous job it was used as a bullying tactic. I had an obvious, well-marked inbox on my desk that the worst offenders flat-out refused to use. Worse, they bragged about doing so! My polite yet repeated requests for them to stop doing so were pointedly ignored and my useless supervisors refused to stand up for me. Now that I’m a manager, I have zero tolerance for this type of passive-aggressive BS. If anyone pulls something like this on one of my employees, heads roll. People know not to mess with my employees.

            1. Clisby

              Why did you care whether they used the inbox or the chair? If they put it on your chair, you can pick it up and put it in the inbox and proceed as usual.

              1. The New Wanderer

                Probably because it’s not about chair vs inbox, it’s about blatantly ignoring a polite request, especially after it’s been repeated. I imagine it’s the same feeling you’d have if you asked repeatedly to be called Sandy and having your coworkers insist on calling you Alexandra.

              2. Jedi Squirrel

                It’s the passive-aggressive aspect of refusing to put them in a clearly marked inbox, especially when they have been requested to do so, that is so infuriating here. If I were Seal, I would have taken every paper placed in my chair and immediately dumped them in the trash.

                1. Fergus, Stealer of Pens and Microwaver of Fish

                  ” I would have taken every paper placed in my chair and immediately dumped them in the trash.”

                  Sure, Jan.

              3. Seal

                It wasn’t the where, it was the why. I asked repeatedly that they put stuff in my inbox and not on my chair and they not only refused, but made a big show about refusing. The whole thing was part of a much larger and ongoing pattern of bullying.

                1. JSPA

                  I’m a person who uses the inbox as a “priority pile.” It’s not what the label says, but it’s how I function. So I tell Jim to put mine on my chair. Sophia wants them on her keyboard, because she’s a clean-desk person without an inbox. You want them in your inbox. Jim now has to remember three separate preferences for three people. Which is fine, if there are three of us. But by the time you need a spreadsheet to remember who gets what…

                  Strikes me it’s actually just as reasonable to think in terms of the patterns of the drop-off-er.

                  Jim is a “puts-on-desk-with-postit-on-monitor-to-say-so” person, Angie is a “puts-on-chair,” “Tariq is a puts in inbox.” Nothing personal, right? It’s what they do in all cases.

                  The benefit? It’s nice to know who drops where, but it’s 100% non-essential. In contrast, if you have to remember WHERE to put something for it to get looked at, that’s a mental requirement. It’s a case where your preference for “what goes where” is, “everyone needs to think about how Seal likes her delivery, to pass work to Seal.” And it’s not like, “don’t email it to the old address because I can’t get it easily.” It’s just, “I don’t like to see it in a place where I don’t like it to be.”

                  Now, if someone MOVES OTHER PAPERS to slot theirs in, that’s time for warfare, if your filing system is positional. But it’s not like you’re going to confuse their papers with your butt (presumably the only thing that, according to you, does belong in your chair).

                2. Clisby

                  But why did you care whether they put stuff in your inbox vs. your chair? That’s the part I don’t get. How can it possibly matter?

            2. Bagpuss

              I can understand the anger if you told specifically asked people to do one thing and they deliberately did something else.

            3. Drago Cucina

              I am with you Seal. I have three boxes. One marked “Important”, one marked “regular”, and the third for catalogs and other non-essential stuff. If it’s important enough to be put on my chair than it should be in my “Important” box. I also don’t want to wade through the multiple pieces of paper that different people have left on my chair, keyboard, etc., to get to a task that really is URGENT.

            4. Oxford Comma

              If you tell me not to do it, I would totally respect your wishes.

              I am just saying I had no idea this was such a hot button issue.

            5. Crop Tiger

              I have a sign saying “Put mail here” with a big red arrow and no one ever puts the mail there. It ends up hopefully on my chair or on a counter where I will notice it eventually. There’s nothing passive aggressive about it. People just don’t listen. I would prefer they put it on my chair where I can decide whether it’s important or not.

        2. Shan

          Yes, I never realized people could be so vehemently opposed to something that to me seems incredibly minor. Sure, one person might have an inbox they promptly deal with, but other people might use theirs as a black hole catch-all. If a person regularly drops stuff off with 20+ people in various departments, I think it’s ridiculous to expect them to remember everyone’s preference. Just look at your chair before you sit down, pick up anything that’s on it, and carry on! The person dropping a file off on your chair isn’t doing anything AT you.

          1. Oh No She Di'int

            I’m with you. I get a certain amount of minor annoyance as in: “Gee I wish I didn’t have to pick this up off the chair and put it in my inbox.” Ok.

            What I don’t get is all the personal umbrage people seem to take. Like, do you really think Claudia woke up this morning and said, “You know what will really piss Dave off? I’m gonna put a memo in his chair! That’ll show him!!”

            1. Clisby

              I don’t even understand why there would be a minor annoyance there, but people should at least be able to carry on.

        3. A

          Ooooo those are my favorite. I find it to be incredibly entertaining. Although I do feel kind of bad for the people who get that worked up about it …. entertaining to read, but jeez – it’s got to be exhausting to be that enraged over tiny things all the time.

        4. Sara(h)

          I’m baffled by it too! I mean, of all things to find fault with! I can understand if someone has a conspicuous inbox and has *repeatedly* asked a particular person to leave things in said inbox, and the person disregards the request, that would be frustrating. But I seriously cannot be bothered by something of so little consequence as the location someone leaves papers for me. Especially when the “chair” method is a workplace norm at so many offices and thus a learned behavior.
          You know what bothers me? People who get annoyed over petty, inconsequential behaviors that do not impact their (work)life in any meaningful way.

    8. She's One Crazy Diamond

      I usually leave it on their keyboards instead of their chairs, because there’s no way they won’t notice but it seems like maybe it’ll be less annoying than leaving it on their chairs.

      1. Anonymous Tech Writer

        When system-installation documentation goes into review, we have people who still request hard copy. That can be 400 pages of paper because of the different versions included. I think people would be unhappy with me if I put those stacks on their keyboard.
        I used to do the chair delivery method until someone objected — now I put it under their mouse like the world’s fattest mouse pad.

        1. This Daydreamer

          What, people don’t like returning to their desk to find an open document that suddenly consists of 358 pages of the letter B?

      2. Mr. Shark

        I’m on of those people who get annoyed with the paper in the chair. That’s not where it goes. It goes on the desk, in the inbox, or, at worst, on the keyboard. The chair is for sitting, and it annoys me that I have to move someone’s work in order to sit on my chair. Leave my chair alone!

        And I agree, it also seems to say “this is your priority” when there is plenty of other work that has to be done.

        1. RKMK

          It’s… just a chair. And putting things on it doesn’t say “this is your priority”, it says “you weren’t here, this is a new thing, FYI, didn’t want it to get lost.”

          Just… take it off your chair and put it where you want it.

    9. Carlie

      Just reading the phrase made me angry again. To me it signals “I will not even let you sit down at your own desk without first forcing you to give attention to this thing of mine, which is obviously more important than anything else you have on your desk and planned to do.”

      1. Get off my lawn!

        I don’t really mind keyboard or chair. (Aside: who are the people who sit in their chair without looking at it first?! Or maybe it’s a habit for me from years of checking subway seats before sitting on them.) I don’t have a proper inbox so it’s fine either way. I’d rather have that than just adding to the papers I might have out on my desk where they might get mixed up and misfiled, thrown away, etc. My issue is the co-worker who puts things on my filing cabinet next to my desk instead of handing them directly to me when I’m sitting at my desk. But they’re generally unpleasant to work with, so I just deal with it rather than have to try to have an adult conversation with someone who is rude and passive-aggressive.

        1. Get off my lawn!

          Forgot the main reason I nested under this comment. To me, placing items on keyboard is just a variation of “I will not let you get your work done without looking at this first.” (Because you can’t use your computer until you move the papers off the keyboard.)

      2. Clisby

        I still have no idea why anyone would interpret it this way. I wonder whether other resentments are in play here, and people are for some reason focusing on papers left on the chair.

        1. AngryChair

          Because I literally have to deal with that paper before I can do anything else. I can’t take off my wet jacket and put it on the back of my chair and risk it dripping on whatever forsaken urgent memo is there. I can’t even sit down, put down my coffee and take off my gloves and turn my computer on. No I must first gather the papers off the chair and flip through them (because multiple people can leave stuff on the chair), confirm nothing is actually life or death, and then place them somewhere. That somewhere usually turns into me just dealing with them.

          1. Get off my lawn!

            “That somewhere usually turns into me just dealing with them.”

            But that’s your choice. You could choose to literally just set them anywhere on your desk without looking at them until you take off your coat, turn on your computer, take off your gloves, etc. Also confused why you can’t put down your coffee before you pick up the papers. Are you putting your coffee on your chair?

          2. EventPlannerGal

            …but you can. You can do all of those things. You can pick up the papers, put them wherever you like on your desk and then do all that stuff and come back to the papers when you’re ready. I do exactly this all the time. If you are choosing to go through the papers first, that’s sort of up to you.

          3. Temperance

            Do you have a coat hook or coat closet?

            I think you can seriously just move things aside, unless you regularly come to work super wet and wearing gloves.

          4. Bagpuss

            It sounds as though you have desk space. In which case it’s reasonable for people to put stuff in that space. But not everyone keeps their desk with free space, or pays attention to what is left there.

            I put stuff on people’s chairs if (and only if) there is no clear space on their desk, not because it is more important or I expect them them to treat it as more urgent than anything else, but so it doesn’t get mixed up with, or lost amongst whatever they already have on their desk.

            Personally I would go for:
            In tray – if there is one. if not,
            Desk – is there is a clear space , If not,
            Keyboard – if it’s visible and the stuff isn’t too bulky
            then if none of those are available, I’ll put it on their chair, because I’ve run out of other options.

            The point is to make sure that they can see there is some Stuff,so they can put it somewhere they’ll know where it is, and deal with it in their own time – not to try to dictate what they prioritise.

          5. Clisby

            You don’t have to flip through them at all. You don’t have to examine them at all. Pick them up and put them in your inbox. Or wherever you want them. And then carry on as usual.

            This whole thing has me wondering whether people get enraged when the cleaning crew comes through at night and doesn’t reposition the now-empty wastebasket *exactly* where they’d like it.

      3. tamarack and fireweed

        I seem to have missed that particular thread, but was mystified by the extreme fervor the “I occasionally don’t return greetings” discussion caused.

        Whenever someone (myself included) gets to the point of feeling rage rise with a note of “I can’t even do X when I come into my own workspace” it’s time to step back a sec. Because what X is is highly idiosyncratic. If could be “sit down in my chair”, it could be “hang up my coat”, it could be “refill my coffee cup” or it could be “access my workstation”. And depending on where the co-worker left the papers

        This whole thing underscores the importance of communication. Co-workers can’t read minds. And with leaving papers, the task is slightly intrinsically contradictory: we want the papers to be immediately obvious to the recipient, but not seriously disruptive. I like to leave them on the computer keyboard, and have them left for me, because it’s a flat, sufficiently large surface that a) I don’t leave papers on and b) I’m likely to immediately look at as soon as I’m back at my desk. Others, however, feel that the computer is sacred space, not to be touched. And really, beyond leaving a small number of sheets, it’s unsuitable. So what about boxes/parcels?

        * If leaving papers for you is a common occurrence, for the love of the office spirits get an in-tray or equivalent. Rescue a copy paper box if you can’t get anything better, draw a big arrow on it, and tell people to leave anything that comes in in the box with the arrow.
        * If it’s the same person who occasionally leaves papers, tell them what your preferences are! I did this with a student worker who happened to sit next to the printer and often brought over my print-outs. This was a little embarrassing – I told her she really didn’t have to do it, but if she did, suggested the desk corner (as I am not a huge fan of unanticipated papers on my chair — I will invariable think at first they must have slid off my desk).
        * If there is an pretty much universally adopted office style, well, that’s a starting point. And if this style is not to your liking you have to instigate the change/special rule for you.
        * And just make your preferences clear! It’s a good topic for water cooler chats, in a non-annoyed, relaxed tone. Shake out those judgy vibes – most people are just trying to do the right thing, but it’s easy to get it wrong.

        1. tamarack and fireweed

          * 2nd para, sentence got cut off: … depending on where the co-worker left the papers, any of those X could be impeded.

      4. EventPlannerGal

        Out of interest, can you name all your colleagues’ chair-vs-desk-vs-keyboard-vs-inbox paper-leaving preferences? Like, right now, off the top of your head? And if the answer is no, why would you expect them all to know yours, or to be sending some kind of coded message by defying them?

        I feel like I’m commenting a lot on this issue, lol, but I’m honestly baffled by the amount of energy going into getting upset over this. People leave crap on my desk every day, and I don’t think there’s any kind of secret signal encoded in where they leave it. They probably aren’t even thinking about it. Because it’s a piece of paper.

        1. JSPA

          This! And if you can, then kudos to you, but I can’t imagine being able to. And it’s not for lack of goodwill, IQ, nor attention to the sort of detail essential for me to do every last one of my core functions.

          I’m not terrible at doing small acts of kindness, either. (I’d have probably gifted the office a coat rack and umbrella stand by now, if I worked with you, and made you a giant, op-art, multicolored, 1970’s Electric Company “Hey youse guys, Seal likes documents in the INBOX” sign with an big arrow). But I might still have spaced out and put papers…on Seal’s chair.

        2. Clisby

          +A million. Nobody’s putting stuff on your chair AT you. It’s a pretty widely accepted place to put stuff.

          1. Tisiphone

            Nope. Not at my workplace. We have desks and email and that’s normally where we find work waiting for us. I’m second shift, so I get a lot of co-worker hand-offs.

            Who puts stuff on people’s chairs? I’ve yet to see it.

            This is the third or fourth (sorry, I’ve lost count) comment saying the same thing about not getting why people are annoyed by people putting things on chairs. Let’s just assume that everyone is an individual who has individual preferences and the preferences you choose to not remember are the preferences of people you don’t respect. That’s been my experience. People are capable of having amazing memories for what pisses people off, but remembering something that makes their lives a little bit brighter is Just So Hard. And so, people piss off their co-workers because bot pissing them off is too bloody difficult.

      5. Amethyst

        X1000!!!

        It drives me NUTS when people leave papers on my chair or my keyboard. I take the bus to & from work, & having that moment to slide right into my seat after dealing with weirdos & hop directly onto my computer to punch in is a huge thing. I can’t do that when I have papers on my chair or keyboard. Also, my job’s punch in system is a bit odd, so having those few seconds without having to first do “work” off the clock is a nice thing to have.

        It’s also rude. “Here, you need to pay attention to me before you can clock back in from your lunch or start work for the day. It’s not my problem if you’re late clearing me off.” Granted, I come from a background where having 2 inboxes packed full & daily stacks of paper measuring 2 feet (or 3!) that I have to keep per company policy for 5 years, so…

        Just don’t. I keep my desk clear so any new papers will be immediately noticed upon my return.

    10. Aggretsuko

      I hate the chair thing. People sit on those and they may not notice your paper avalanche. Why the hell can’t you stick it in an inbox or on the front of their workspace/work tray?!

      A cousin of mine had coworkers put a photo of her celebrity crush on her chair and she did not notice for days.

      1. EventPlannerGal

        You would sit down on pieces of paper without noticing it? Like, at all? You wouldn’t notice the sound of crinkling paper or the sensation of sitting on paper or anything?

        1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego

          People who have never sat in gum or other questionable substances on public transportation, I think.

    11. pleaset

      “my boss has a habit of leaving papers face down on my desk without letting me know,”

      Face down? That’s very not smart.

      1. pamela voorhees

        I usually do it by default, unless it’s something truly trivial — I don’t want a random passerby to spot something and get curious about it. Irrational? Absolutely. Am I going to do it anyway? Probably.

      2. AJHall

        If anyone puts something face up rather than face down on a desk in my office, the owner of the desk is likely to get a sharp email from the partner responsible for security compliance. We are required to comply with a particular security classification which requires a clean desk at end of day, and all working papers turned over if you move out of sight of your desk, so leaving papers on desks or chairs is a real issue.

        1. Miss Pantalones en Fuego

          But if you work in that kind of environment then the mere fact that there is a piece of paper there is enough of a clue. If it’s no big deal to have papers on your desk then it will be easier to overlook a new one.

    12. OlympiasEpiriot

      I once left something on someone’s chair — it wasn’t exactly papers, iirc, but it was something that could get lost in papers and there were a lot of papers on this person’s desk. I was told, rather calmly considering the no doubt huge inconvenience I created, not to ever do that again as he had no way of picking it up without risking falling over. He was, at the time, using two crutches and was frankly pretty shaky on those and couldn’t twist and, no, it wasn’t possible for him to bend to get it off his chair w/o a lot of trouble.

      Ever since then, I just put things in inboxes as one should if I can’t be there when they are and, if I think there is a risk something will fall through the cracks, I call the person or send them an e-mail letting them know I left it off.

    13. kittymommy

      I currently do the papers on chair with my bosses because it’s the only way to get them to look at them. I once had one of them ask why I did it that way, I could just lay it on the desk. My response was when they cleared out the unviewed papers from 2015 then he could have a say (yep, said it just like that to my boss). And I swear some think that their inbox is just an extra filing cabinet I use until I need it’s contents again.

    14. Rexish

      I didn’t know this was a thing but I’m already finding it annoying. If there is no mailbox then leave it on the keyboard or on the table and put a post it on it. I cannt explain why the chair is a problem, but I just wouldn’t like it

    15. Gatomon

      I personally don’t care where the papers are left – on the keyboard, on the chair, on the desk corner, on top of the PC, etc. – just leave a note! At my old job it was customary to put a small sticky note with your initials and the date, and leave a short message if it was not clear what was to be done with the material. It was a good thing.

      At new job I find all sorts of things on my desk with 0 information about who left it, what I’m to do with it, etc. Maddening. Absolutely maddening.

    16. Anita Brayke

      I used to hate things on my chair with a burning, purple passion. It definitely felt condescending to me, as if I wasn’t smart enough to look on my desk.

      But with age comes wisdom, or being too tired, or something…now I just move the stuff on my chair and make myself think of something good about the person who put it there.

    17. Jan

      Me neither. I do it with all of my bosses. Never had a complaint, and I don’t mind it when people leave things on my chair.

    18. smoke tree

      I don’t really understand the interpretation of it as disrespectful, but I’ll admit I would find it a bit weird. I’ve never seen papers left on a chair–usually I leave papers face-up on the keyboard if I want to draw attention to them, and so has everyone else I’ve worked with. I feel like the chair papers could easily end up on the floor.

    19. What She Said

      Wow! I had no idea papers could give off so many various emotions and that so many feel this is a hill to die on.

    20. Eukomos

      I have an in-box, so when my boss leave things on my desk or chair instead of in my in-box I feel like she’s accusing me of not checking the box enough. It doesn’t help that the papers tend to be weird notes with half a request or saying “see me” when I was just out going to the bathroom for five freakin minutes.

    21. Eh-nonymous

      Over the years my team and I discovered that if they used a file folder with a label that says ‘please review/sign/etc. and return to ‘TheirName’ it made things a lot easier.
      These days they use a specific colour so I know who needs my attention with a split second glance at my In Box.

      I do the same with my own boss. She gets a ridiculous amount of paperwork hit her desk on a daily basis. My bright green folders are priority so my stuff never gets lost.

    22. NotAnotherManager!

      I did not realize this was a hot-button thing, either! This is how papers are left in our organization pretty much across the board. There are logistical reasons for it (inboxes not located in line of sight for many people, constant deadline pressure, strong bent towards not messing up someone’s desk organization system/not appearing to be looking through someone’s desk). If someone took major umbrage at it or asked that their stuff be handled in a specific way, I think they’d be viewed as a bit precious and difficult.

      But, after the last thread, I added this as a cultural fun fact to my orientation presentation just so people knew to expect it and that it was not intended as personal disrespect.

      1. Clisby

        You could do the 10 Commandments of Office Culture:

        Thou shalt not microwave fish.

        Thou shalt not take umbrage at papers on the chair, or not on the chair, or morning greetings, or no morning greetings, or, really, anything totally ridiculous.

        Thou shalt not leave a drawer full of fingernail clippings.

    23. AnonForThis

      I bet the Venn Diagram of Guess Culture people and people who feel that having papers left on their chair/keyboard/desktop is a sign of deep disrespect is basically a circle. I’m tempted to do this to a few people at my office just to confirm my suspicions.

  2. She's One Crazy Diamond

    At my workplace, we have a SharePoint system for several different teams where if you need a particular type of service, say your llama needs to be groomed, you can go in and enter a request for exactly what you need and then the llama grooming team will assign you a groomer based on their availability. Awesome system, very efficient, but no matter how much management sides with us and sends out emails to staff, they continue to go and ask whatever groomer sits closest to them or they find friendliest in person or via email, completely ignoring our system and causing one groomer to be super busy and stressed and the other two to be twiddling their thumbs, we also lose track of the requests since they’re not entered into our system. It absolutely infuriates me that they still won’t use the system after their freaking grandboss tells them they have to.

    1. Becky

      super busy llama groomer should start refusing to help them unless there is a documented request.

      My team had to do something similar, as soon as one of our developers comes over to us saying “Team lead asked us to make this change…” we immediately come back with “Is there a ticket for it?” If there isn’t a ticket it doesn’t get tested or tracked and it sometimes causes big issues.

      1. Zombeyonce

        This is the way to fix it. We had this problem at my work and our boss was great about the solution, saying we should use them as an excuse.

        Requester: I need this llama groomed!
        Me: Is there a ticket?
        Requester: No, I figured you could just do it. You’re always so helpful.
        Me: Sorry, Boss wants to be able to track our work now and makes us work from a queue. I’m not allowed to accept work not in the queue so you have to make a ticket for me to work on it. Be sure to hurry so other people don’t get ahead of you!

        A version of this conversation happened probably 10 times per regular requester but they eventually got the message that coming to us directly was never going to get them what they wanted, and was actually putting them lower in the queue than if they just submitted a ticket. The persistence is worth it!

      2. CoolCucumber

        I used to be in an office where “difficult” questions about work items my team was processing were supposed to be submitted as tickets for a few senior members on another team to answer. I tended to do a lot of varied, harder work items and took detailed notes, so I was more knowledgeable than most of my teammates and constantly got questions ranging from easy to difficult. Our performance was based on speed and accuracy, so we had to put ourselves in a “coaching” status whenever we were helping teammates so our stats wouldn’t suffer (though it still looks bad when you’re not processing as much). I was spending 40-50% of my time in coaching status at one point. Asked my supervisor what to do and they said to start referring all questions to the other team. The amount of questions I got quickly stopped after that.

        1. Devil Fish

          It’s only “really easy” if you have support from up top.

          I’ve been in a similar situation where management said the queue/ticket system needed to be used with no exceptions but in practice they told us to go ahead and just do the side requests since “there were no tickets in the queue right now so you’re not doing anything anyway” (omgwtfsrsly).

      3. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain

        We have a similar system and encounter the same problem. Another issue is the never-ending-job-request because the person we helped before just sort of assumes all further needs will be handled by their “assigned” designer so they don’t need a new ticket for a different project…except that’s not how it works. As others have said, always direct them to the ticket system even when you really can do it in 5 minutes. “Just to have a file on record” or “I have to track my jobs for my performance evaluation.” Or tell the truth…”I’ve got too many projects on my plate that take priority so another person will be able to help you with this faster than I can.” Some people huff a bit but most are very understanding about it.

    2. Oldster

      What has been the response of the overworked groomer? This is probably where the change needs to come from. If they refuse to take an assignment that does not come through the system and tells everyone to put the request through the proper channels you might see some change. After all the strength of the system is determined by the weakest link.

      1. She's One Crazy Diamond

        So it used to be me, and then I got a rotation with a different program, and the other three groomers were supposed to cover the work I normally did (we hired an additional position anyway, so they shouldn’t be having staffing issues), so I haven’t had to deal with this for a while. Then one of the groomers went on vacation, and he must’ve been the one getting saddled with all these requests, because all of a sudden I was getting bombarded and I had to go up the ladder to get my new boss to tell their bosses to leave me alone and that if they were using the system like they were supposed to everything would go smoothly.

        1. nonymous

          The way I do it is help people fill out the ticket.

          Put some words that are along the lines of “on behalf of Fergus/Karen”, so that when your team reviews for process improvement you have a good sense of who/how many tickets are from people who can’t be bothered to fill out the tickets, and go through it with them line-by-line (best if you can to do the entry with you providing verbal direction).

          The idea is that folks who actually find the ticket process intimidating get the training they need and for the lazy people your “help” becomes clunkier then entering it themselves. And no one gets to game the routing system.

    3. Zombie Unicorn

      “and causing one groomer to be super busy and stressed and the other two to be twiddling their thumbs”

      The fault for this lies within your team, not with the people failing to use the system. They need to be redirected to it every single time.

    4. Aquawoman

      I say you solve this by telling the llama groomers that they are not allowed to do those jobs without a ticket.

    5. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss

      One more vote for the llama groomer adhering to the system. I used to work as second level support. My first question was always “did you put in a ticket”. Eventually they stopped. The responsibility lies with the llama groomers here to retrain everyone who isn’t following the rules.

      1. Quinalla

        Though make sure you have your boss’ backing on this. Maybe just give them a “Remember how I told you some people aren’t using the ticket system? We are going to start pushing back on that from every person on the team starting on X date, just wanted to give you a heads up in case anyone comes to you complaining, etc.”

        But yeah, if anyone lets people short circuit the system, those people won’t use the system :)

    6. Mr. Shark

      I get it. It makes sense, but it is sort of a pain in the neck to submit a ticket (I’m talking IT, from my experience) for something simple that would take 30 seconds, and is needed right away. Instead, a ticket takes half a day before it is even seen, and then another half a day before anyone gets to it because other projects take a few hours or something.

      But in your case, SOCD, if the grooming is a consistent time and everyone should be standing in line to get the next groomer, I think it makes more sense. It really would help them to put in a ticket because it distributes the work over three people instead of jamming into one person’s queue. But in my example, sometimes the ticket system is just cumbersome.

      1. She's One Crazy Diamond

        It’s not IT, and 99% of requests need a multiple day turnaround, we don’t typically do same day requests unless it comes directly from our boss.

    7. Akcipitrokulo

      Don’t do it unless throigh system.

      Be nice :) Smile as you say “Sure! Raise that and I’ll get to it asap!” (asap being defined by system).

      “but can’t you just ..?

      “Sorry, I can’t… but raise it on system and I’ll make sure it’s done for you!”

    8. tamarack and fireweed

      Extremely common. You MUST progressively herd those requests into the system. That’s what it’s there for. There are tricks to this. The super-busy groomer could say: I will create this request for you in the system and *one of our team* will get on it [within the allotted time, which may be “immediately” or “within the hour” or “by the end of the day” — in any event, should not be slower than what the very-busy-groomer would have achieved].

    9. SomebodyElse

      Going with the others that say it’s not a requester problem it’s a groomer problem. I’ve implemented systems/processes like you describe and it’s only as good as the people who use it. I have one team that won’t accept anything that isn’t requested through the system. I suspect because when I started with them, people used to hand them paper to request work to be done. It was bedlam, half the time the requester never actually walked the paper over, if they did chances are the paper got lost before anyone could do anything with it, and the team was tracking their work by entering all of the information on the paper into a spreadsheet… allegedly.

      Once I created a sharepoint list with workflows the team never ‘lost’ a ‘grooming job’ again. We also were able to track just how badly the other team requested grooming jobs and how often they pointed the finger at my team when it was their own fault.

      Luckily my team didn’t need too much convincing after we got it up and running, because they could prove they were understaffed, they weren’t the cause of 1/2 of the delays, and they could for once keep track of their work queues.

      I’ve had less success in other teams and it’s frustrating because the same complaints persist and I point to the requesters that they didn’t use the tracking tool and the groomers that they didn’t make the requesters use the tool.

    10. This Daydreamer

      When someone comes to you to make a request, you can stop them for just a second and say “Hold on, let me pull up the ticket so I know which request you’re talking about.” When they don’t have a ticket, pretend it throws you off a little bit because you assumed that of course they’d follow the simple procedure that’s set up to take care of this. Or you can ask them why they didn’t submit a ticket so you know what kind of technical glitch prevented them from using the usual system.

    11. SusanIvanova

      My tech company is known for its t-shirts – I think “It’s not done until the t-shirt ships” started here. There’s one I see fairly frequently: “File a [bugreport]”

    12. RegBarclay

      Oh do I know this one… as a bonus, our system and software is not great so 25-30% of items cannot or should not be sent through the system. So we can’t push back on every single one, and it’s not always clear which ones we can push back as “send a ticket”. Plus that one llama groomer that doesn’t ever want to push back herself (and risk seeming unhelpful) but expects the rest of us to. It’s maddening.

    13. Mockingjay

      This is my life. We track ALL work tasks in SharePoint. It’s a mandatory system.

      Every forking day I get emails – “Can you do this?” “Make sure this blurb gets added to the report.” “How can I get staff assigned to the XY event?” “Do you have a software test plan? We need one by Monday.” I have provided tons of training, group and individual, and they still don’t get it. Did I mention we do IT and comm systems? You’d think they could handle it.

      I suppose the real issue is that there is no penalty for not using the system. Grandboss is like, “can you just put in the task for them?” Not for 20 people! I’ve used similar systems at past jobs; the difference is that the bosses had my back. If you didn’t use the system, your work went to the bottom of the pile. No exceptions. After a few missed deadlines, people got very compliant.

  3. CatCat

    You know what drives me nuts? Calling me to ask if the thing you need done is now done long before the deadline you gave me. Stop it.

    1. Wendy Darling

      If you needed it now, why did you tell me the deadline was in a week? Do you think I cannot manage my workload? WHAT IS THIS MADNESS?

    2. Essess

      I might have shared this before…. I received a call from my utility company telling me that they hadn’t received my payment yet. I had my bill handy and pulled it out while I was on the phone and said “I just received the bill and the due date isn’t for another 6 days. Is that a wrong due date?” The person on the phone acknowledged that the due date wasn’t here yet but they were calling to tell me that they hadn’t received the payment for that bill yet. I got really mad and told her that she had NO business nagging me for a payment that wasn’t even due, especially since I had NEVER missed a payment prior to that point and I didn’t have any past due balances. This occurred years ago and I still have no idea why they did that.

      1. Allison

        That sounds really annoying! It may be because a lot of people were paying their bills late, or forgetting bills, and then instead of saying “oh man, my bad, I’ll set a reminder next month” and eating the late fee like an adult, they make it the phone company’s problem, like “you should’ve reminded me!” or something. A lot of companies have decided that early reminders are the key to keeping their general customer base satisfied and reducing angry phone calls.

        It’s like the bartender who gave me a hard time because my licence was set to expire in a month, and got huffy when I told her I knew that instead of thanking her for the helpful reminder – it wasn’t because she thought I was stupid, it was so I wouldn’t come back in 5 weeks with an expired license and get belligerent with a bartender for not serving me.

        1. Get off my lawn!

          I notice that I’ll get two or three text or automated voice mails reminding me or asking me to confirm doctor’s appointments or hair appointments. The doctor is especially annoying because they’ll call two or three days in a row even when I’ve previously confirmed. I mentioned this to the staff and they said it is because people forget and then get upset that they miss their appointment. Really? Put an appointment in your calendar; it’s not that hard. Why is it someone else’s job to constantly remind you what you need to do?

          1. Texan in Exile aka golddigger

            If I don’t renew my license, I am the one harmed. But it I miss a doctor’s appointment, my doc loses money.

            1. Ktelzbeth

              From this doctor’s perspective, it’s not about money. I’m salaried. It’s about the people who forget to come to their appointments and then want to be seen ASAP if not sooner because they have a serious problem (actual degree of seriousness varies). I’ll do my best to work them in, but it’s easier if they use the appointment as scheduled.

          2. Shan

            Yes, a clinic I go to has taken to doing that, and it’s really annoying! Especially since they want me to call back to confirm each time. Uh, sorry, I already verbally confirmed once, I’m not doing it multiple times.

            1. Not Sayin'

              I actually had a dentist CANCEL my appointment because I only confirmed once. “Oh, we thought you weren’t coming in, so the dentist took the day off!”

              But I have the text right here…

          3. nonymous

            I get the confirmation text/email about two weeks out and then a reminder the morning of from my dentist (no confirmation needed on that second one). To me that seems like the perfect interval: once so that I can request time off at work if I forgot and the second lets me cancel/reschedule if something comes up last minute with the map/phone info in my recent history when I’m on the way.

      2. LCL

        She made a mistake and didn’t want to own it. Or whoever sent her the list of people with a late payment history made a mistake and she didn’t want to get into it.

      3. Respectfully, Pumat Sol

        The assistant manager at my apartment complex decided to send out a “payment due” reminder to ALL residents, regardless of payment status one month. Which resulted in her being bombarded with “ummm, did my payment not go through????” messages all that day. She did not repeat the email again. It was so frustrating. She could SEE who had and had not paid. All she had to do was limit the email to the people who hadn’t paid yet and saved us ALL a lot of headaches.

      4. Myrcallie

        We have a supplier who does that- we have a current £1000 invoice which was issued on August 6th, with a due date of September 6th. Got a chaser email last week saying we were a week late paying for it and that the date it was issued was now the due date. WTF?

    3. Jadelyn

      *eye twitches* Hidden deadlines should be considered the 8th deadly sin. If you need it by Friday, but would prefer it by Wednesday, TELL ME THAT UPFRONT. If I know you want it earlier, I can try to get it to you, but if you just tell me Friday then I have no idea you want me to prioritize it beyond that.

    4. sofar

      Or, the passive aggressive “check-in” message:

      Them: “So… how are those TPS reports coming?”

      Me: “You mean the ones due next Friday?”

      1. JJ Bittenbinder

        My old boss used to do this, and usually he would ask me first thing in the morning the day after assigning me something. So, he would assign it in our Monday afternoon meeting, due date Friday. I’d go home at 5 and, Tuesday he’d come in and immediately ask how the project was coming along.

        I guess I was supposed to be working on it in my sleep.

        1. Groundhog

          At one ex-job the mail arrived in the afternoon. Every day at approximately 11am, the controller would come to my desk and ask me if we had received any money in the mail. Every day I would remind him the mail did not arrive until the afternoon.

        2. MoopySwarpet

          My boss does this. I usually just say “It’s on track for Friday.” It is especially annoying with a specific project that happens every month. A week before it’s due, I’ll start getting asked every day “Ready for the monthly project meeting?” to which I answer “No, but I will be by the meeting.”

    5. Jam Today

      I got yelled at by a boss on a Wednesday for not having something done, four hours after he told me that he wanted it by the end of the week.

    6. tamarack and fireweed

      It *is* annoying. I just had this sort of thing happen at work. I was meeting with a developer – the first meeting in a larger group and then a second face-to-face went very well. He’s nice, good at his job and enthusiastic! We made a timeline for the implementation of the stuff I’ve worked on and am handing in part to him. First step is on my side, and we agreed I’ll have it completed by Aug 23. Friday, Aug. 16, he send me email asking how I was getting on with it. This wasn’t the only object of the email, and we continue to have a fruitful exchange (ie, I find his input helpful), but that bit did irritate me mildly, and I hope it remains a fluke.

      1. nonymous

        I can see how that would be irritating, but on the other side, I can’t tell you how many times people will underestimate how much time their task takes or not have infrastructure in place or let other priorities creep in without updating me. By pinging you a week early other hands can be brought in if necessary without delaying the next step.

      2. Not a cat

        If the developer is used to using a formal project management method, like Agile or Six Sigma, updates are baked-in. Perhaps that’s what it was.

    7. Kelly L.

      Person (via email): Please do XYZ. No rush.
      Person (10 minutes later, coming by my desk): Did you see my email? Do XYZ. No rush.
      Person (1 hour later): Where is XYZ?

      I’m beginning to think “no rush” is some people’s code for “hair on fire mega rush.”

    8. An Amazing Detective-Slash-Genius

      Oh my god, my boss sometimes makes me call clients and ask them if they’re on track to hit their deadlines, which isn’t for another 3-4 days. If there’s one thing I hate more than nagging, it’s having to be the face of someone else’s nagging.

    9. doreen

      It’s worse when it is (or was) an actual policy. Here’s how it goes where I work – a particular report has a due date set, which is two weeks before a different event happens. Someone put out a memo about 7 years ago requiring that the office that is to receive the report check on the status one month after sending the assignment. Either the memo was rescinded or all the other offices ignore it, because only one office sends the email which says something to the effect of ” Even though the report is not due yet we are required by So and So’s memo of (date) to inquire about the status “. I think I may have finally gotten it to stop- not sure if it was my stock answer of ” It will be completed by the due date,which is not for four weeks” or forwarding it up my chain of command asking why only this one office is still following a pointless policy contained in a memo written by someone who retired five years ago.

    10. ceiswyn

      Yeah, my boss once had a panic at me about the fact that we didn’t have documentation for Feature A, which was going out in the next release, in a month’s time, and what were we going to do about it?!

      I was like… “…write the documentation? Before next month? Which is kind of what my job is, and by the way I already put this task in the task tracker that you keep insisting I create so that you can see what I’m doing, and then never look at?”

      I don’t miss that boss.

  4. XtinaLyn

    My coworker cooks shrimp in the office microwave. You want to get to me? Cook shrimp in the office microwave.

    1. She's One Crazy Diamond

      As long as people continue to eat smelly eggs at meetings, I’m going to continue to microwave my shrimp. Sorry not sorry.

      1. Seeking Second Childhood

        I’ll straddle the line on food smells. Reheating something for a minute or two is OK. Cooking it from raw puts too much flavor in the air. Unless it’s plain Ramen noodles, in which case use it as a chance to clean out the loosened spackle on the roof of the microwave please.

        1. JustMyImagination

          As an undergrad, I worked in a university lab and one of my jobs was cultivating yeast and making the growing mediums. Certain flavors/brands of Ramen smell just like the growing yeast. It’s the one lunch my office-mate makes where I have to leave and be busy elsewhere.

        2. StressedButOkay

          I actually reheated a shrimp dish today but did it for about a minute. The smell was that of the rest of the dish, the spices and whatnot, but no lingering shrimp-y smell. I think anything longer than 1-2 minute reheat on things like shrimp or anything with a strong smell and that’s when you get into trouble.

          (I reheat shrimp dishes knowing I’m not going to get it piping hot but also knowing I won’t make my coworkers mad, so win-win.)

        3. ...

          Cooking from raw is odd, but I agree, people have to eat. And that involves re-heating food, which does have a scent!

      2. The Man, Becky Lynch

        OMG eggs, they just had this argument on the radio morning show a few days ago. “Hard boiled eggs, are they acceptable in an office?”

        I honestly just have made a habit of asking around if they have any objections to smells before doing something that’s “classically” smelly. So far nobody has had any issues. “Mind if I make popcorn, is that okay, I’m totally cool not doing it…I promise I want to eat it and therefore do not burn it.” ;)

        1. Archaeopteryx

          Hard boiled eggs are the grossest smell to me, it’s horrible. So my vote’s no on that one!

          1. Clisby

            Do you mean hard boiled eggs cooked in the office, or just that someone brings in cold hard-boiled eggs? I don’t see how anybody could smell cold hard-boiled eggs unless they got really up close and personal with them.

            1. Ajana

              I can smell cold hard-boiled eggs from a several metres away (even further). They make me vomit unless I can hold my nose. So don’t think that everyone can’t smell them.

          2. anycat

            i had a coworker who would make some sort of egg and heat it up and eat it at his desk.. he made me throw up a few times when i was pregnant.

        2. Amber T

          I remember the good ol’ days of dorm living in college, and once a month (way more frequently during midterms and finals), there would be the inevitable fire alarm and building evacuation (always between midnight and 3am) because somebody couldn’t stand next to the damn microwave for two minutes and listen to their popcorn pop. Fun times.

          1. AGirlHasNoScreenName

            I can almost guarantee you up to half of those incidences were kids trying to hide the smell of marijuana from the RA.

            1. JJ Bittenbinder

              WHAT?! I never lived in a dorm so did not know this trick.

              Well played, stoners. Well played.

        3. EventPlannerGal

          Oh man, I haven’t been able to deal with egg smells ever since sharing an office with a woman who – every single day – would make herself a two-egg omelette with ham in our office microwave. The office was miniscule and the windows did not open. I used to try to time my lunchbreaks so I would be out as the actual microwaving was happening, but still.

        4. smoke tree

          Hard-boiled eggs were the bane of my existence when I used to work by the kitchen. I hate the smell of eggs in general, but I realize that not everyone shares my clearly correct opinion about this. I would rather deal with a thousand microwaved fishes than a single boiled egg.

          1. Filosofickle

            Yes, bring on the fish as long as you keep your eggs well away from me. I’m allergic to eggs, so the smell kicks up a strong reflex reaction in me.

    2. Darkened Meadow

      Do not steam Brussels sprouts in the microwave! Apparently, I stunk up several rooms via the air vents when I did that. =(

        1. Thatoneoverthere

          I think Brussels Sprouts and Kale microwaved are way worse then seafood. It smells like a fart all day!

          Once I brought home made Kale chips to snack on. I had never made them before. I opened the container and almost fell over at the smell.

          1. Former Young Lady

            Brussels sprouts apologists should stop reading now.

            My husband and I were cat-sitting for a friend (who also had reptiles, in a closed-off area, whose care was not our responsibility…this will matter in a moment). Friend’s apartment was in a large complex, and every day it smelled more and more strongly of Brussels sprouts. My husband loves the things, and he kept talking about how much he wanted to be friends with the neighbours who were obviously cooking them every night for dinner. I kept talking about how disgusting it was. This went on for a week of visits to feed/dote on the cat.

            Friend got back in town and we stopped by to hand off the keys and say hi to the cat one more time. The smell was noticeably gone. Friend said, “I’m so sorry about the dead mouse. I found it when I got back.”

      1. Blueberry Smoothie

        I was forbidden from ever having brussels at the office again – after roasting them in the toaster oven that was (in my meager defense) located in the un-air conditioned warehouse part of the office. The air was still redolent four hours later, apparently. Since I was solo in the office most of the day, I didn’t worry about it.

        Oops. I lost my popcorn complaining rights permanently at that company.

    3. OlympiasEpiriot

      At least shrimp is real food. I’m annoyed at anyone who brings in burger/fries fast food with that greasy plastic odor.

      (I am not saying the food is plastic, it is just that there is a scent to that food that reminds me of just molded plastic. I suspect it is left over long-chain molecules from the frying. For some reason I don’t smell it at diners…different kinds of oil used in the fryer? Oil reused for longer?)

      1. Devil Fish

        That plastic smell might be the grease sinking into the wrappers/containers, if your coworkers are reheating the food in the wrappers/containers. A dude I used to work with would microwave his leftovers in the styro takeaway container and the smell of burning styrofoam is vile.

    4. LuckyClover

      I worked for a health and nutrition program. People just ate whatever they want, completely disregarding office politics related to reheating fish/shrimp/eggs/brussels etc. You get used to it kinda…

  5. KHB

    There’s a great scene in The Pillars of the Earth (set in a fictionalized medieval England populated with people with suspiciously modern attitudes) where somebody asks Prior Philip what the most important qualities are in a monk. His answer is not piety or devotion or anything like that, but patience and a sense of humor. Because, he says, when you join a monastery, you’ll have the same two people – the monks who joined right before and right after you – on either side of you every day, in every activity, until one of the three of you dies. They might not be people you’d ever have chosen to associate with, they might have personality quirks that annoy the heck out of you, and you have to find a way to take it all in stride.

    I’m at one of those workplaces where it’s common for people to stay for decades. I think about that scene a lot.

    1. Countess Boochie Flagrante

      Oh, I love that book! Despite the suspiciously modern attitudes, which tend to throw me out of immersion… ah well, you can’t have everything.

      That said, Prior Philip is completely right about that. Job security might not be quite so strong as in a monastery, but if I don’t like how my coworker pronounces my name, I’m still gonna have to deal with it Every Damn Day.

    2. Drago Cucina

      I visited a cloistered convent in the Lancaster, PA area once. The nun who was interacting with the public and answering questions made that point. She commented that you may sit next to someone for 20 years that sings off key. That being in a convent was a relationship with a people with their own quirks. She had to be patient with theirs and pray they were patient and forgiving of her.

    3. Brown-eyed Girl

      Amazing wisdom- not just for work but for life. Patience and a sense of humor. (Jury duty and the start of the semester are both approaching; I need to tattoo this in my brain.) Thank you!

    4. cleo

      Reminds me of a quote I’ve seen attributed to Fr Thomas Keating, the late Trappist monk:

      Living in a monastery is like being married to 20 people you don’t like very much.

  6. Oldster

    For papers on chairs. This is pretty standard in a lot of places. It is the only common place that all employees will see. And when you have employees whose work area is already covered with work how do you know where to put things so they see them?

    1. Aquawoman

      I think this is a complaint that makes more sense if the person has an in-box for incoming work, but people bypass it to use the chair. But, yeah, in our office, it’s either the physical mailbox, which is not in your office and people do not check more than once a day and sometimes less, or the chair.

      1. Aquawoman

        I have at least one thing I do that involves physical files and is somewhat time-sensitive. Our in-boxes are down the hall from our offices, so email would mean emailing someone to go pick something up from their in-box, which seems more annoying than leaving it on their seat.

    2. AngryChair

      I put my bag on my chair when I come in, then unpack my lunch, laptop, and planners onto the desk. Or I sit down, put my bag on the floor or in my lap and unpack onto the desk. Putting anything on my chair is going to just get dumped on the floor. It angers me too that you think your work is so vital I cannot even sit down before I address it. No I must address it first. Chill out. My inbox exists. So does my email. If not then stick it on the top and put a post it note on it.

      1. Clisby A Williams

        No, you don’t have to address the papers on your chair first. Just pick them up and put them wherever you want them, and then you’re free not to address them until you’re ready.

        1. Mr. Shark

          Or, you know, the person that is putting the papers on your desk can just put them in the inbox, or somewhere besides the chair, which is meant for sitting, not for paperwork.

          1. Jadelyn

            If there *is* a physical inbox, which there often isn’t. So in that case, people are supposed to, what? Put new items on the general stacks of paper on someone’s desk and just *hope* the person notices it’s something new?

            I genuinely don’t get the impulse to take papers on the chair so personally.

            1. Mr. Shark

              I don’t know, but it’s obviously a thing, as you can see here. Maybe it’s because when I get back to my desk, I want to sit down and organize myself before getting back to work, and the stuff on my chair disrupts that. It’s probably no difference in the annoyance that I get when I arrive to work, and before I even sit down and get organized, someone is in my face asking me to do something.

              1. Jadelyn

                I mean, I get that it *is* a thing for some people, it still doesn’t make sense to me though. I’m not a fan of people jumping on me first thing in the morning either, but it takes so little thought to pick up a piece of paper and put it where you want it before you sit…that’s what I don’t get, I suppose. You don’t have to *do* anything with the paper immediately, it’s just to make sure it gets seen rather than lost in the stacks.

              2. Clisby

                Why does the stuff on your chair disrupt anything? It doesn’t mean anybody’s in your face asking you to do something. All it requires is that before you sit down, you pick up whatever’s there and dump in whatever you call your inbox. Done. Then you deal with it just like you’d deal with it if it had been there in the first place.

        2. Tilly W

          Yea, I like stuff on my chair. My desk is pretty neat but the nature of my work is a lot of editing so sometimes I do have a lot of paper scattered in an organized fashion. It’s easy to pick them up and move it to another place to deal with later. I don’t expect someone to walk down the hall to our mailboxes for a simple piece of paper that our admin will just have to get and deliver to me later that day. I’ve always thought it was an etiquette thing too. Rather than flopping paper down on a desk, placing them subtly out of sight.

          I’ve never thought of paper on my chair to be a sore subject!

        3. pleaset

          This.

          I don’t like the papers-on-the-chair thing, but “you think your work is so vital I cannot even sit down before I address it” is not the point. People put things on chairs so the recipient doesn’t miss them, not so that the recipient must take action before sitting. Chill.

          1. Clisby

            Exactly. I cannot fathom why people think that papers on the chair is some kind of power play to say those papers need to go to the top of the priority list. That’s just weird.

            1. Get off my lawn!

              I can see being irritated if you have a very obvious inbox and have asked people to put everything in your inbox and they still put it on your chair. Like someone else mentioned, it was used as a variation of bullying. If you don’t have an inbox and your desk is full of papers I think putting something on one’s chair is more like “I wanted to make sure this didn’t get lost in the other papers / I’m not sure the best place to put this to make sure you see it.” I put things on people’s chairs but would never think it means “You must respond to this immediately before doing anything else!”

              A have a co-irker who has told me they hate having things put on their chair. Despite my dislike for this person and the fact that their desk is always covered in paper (making me skeptical they’ll even notice a new piece of paper) I still put stuff on their desk. I want to put it on their chair just to annoy them (not because I think it will make it more of a priority) but I don’t.

      2. Herder of Butterflies

        And I had co-workers who are so busy / forgetful / overloaded that when they see papers on their keyboard, they think they left them their themselves. They proceed to move them aside without looking at them.

        Placing things on your chair is the about the only bona-fide way to get someone to SEE new papers at their station.

        You do NOT have to address things left on your chair. Interpreting it that way is on you, not on the person who placed the papers there.

      3. Jadelyn

        That’s putting an awful lot of words in someone’s mouth, taking “papers on chair” to mean “I think my work is so vital you must address it before you even sit down”. It’s just making sure you see it and it doesn’t fade into the collective background of papers on your desk, especially for people who don’t have a physical inbox.

      4. EventPlannerGal

        “Chill out.”

        I feel like this is kind of a hilarious thing to say in the context of a paragraph detailing your anger at people leaving papers on your chair rather than your desk.

      5. BethRA

        ” you think your work is so vital I cannot even sit down before I address it. ” It’s one thing for something to bug you, but this seems like you’re making a lot of assumptions about people’s intentions.

        1. Alienor

          And even if they do think that…oh well! They can think it all they want, and I’ll still get to their stuff when I have time, and not before.

          1. Clisby

            Exactly. Papers on your chair mean you pick them up and dump them wherever you keep your incoming stuff (inbox, whatever). Then you handle it just like would anything else, whether handed to you personally, placed in the inbox, slid under your door, …

      6. Librarian1

        But that’s the thing: nobody thinks you have to address the work on the chair before you can do anything else, they just want to make sure you see it.

    3. Jan

      In my firm, no one has an inbox anymore (except for email inboxes). One boss, strangely has just a “box” that we use for incoming and outgoing.

      1. Msk

        I also have a box instead of an inbox… no one else has any sort of inbox. I process payments and also do a lot of writing and editing, so I hate to be interrupted constantly for drop off. I could ask them to buy me a real inbox, but this box works just as well. The janitors tossed it once and a coworker nicely found me a new one haha. It’s functional!

  7. Fake Old Converse Shoes (not in the US)

    Yeah, there were two people at OldJob who never said hello… one was my former team leader, who walked straight into our office without looking at anybody, the second was one of the owners, who waved at everyone but me. There were no words to express how annoying it was.

      1. Clisby A Williams

        Seconded. I doubt I’d even notice if someone came into work and walked into an office without looking at anyone. Because I’d be, you know, working.

      2. LCL

        Because pre computer days, it was a basic social expectation you greeted people you worked with or walked by.

        1. Fiddlesticks

          What does pre- or post-computer era have to do with whether or not people greet each other every day?

          1. LCL

            Pre computer days it was EXPECTED you greeted everybody. The great amount of people who are annoyed by being greeted is a relatively recent development. Widespread computer usage isn’t directly to blame, it is a marker in time. I suspect the reason for the change is people spend much more time working independently and are more used to controlling their environment and choosing who they socialize with. Hopefully some smart modern anthropology student can use this as thesis material and write a witty extract that we can all read on-line.

            1. Fiddlesticks

              Hmm. I’m 52 so I span both of those work eras. I do remember East Coast workplaces being a lot more formal in general back in the 1980s and early 1990s, in dress and how we addressed higher-ups and how departments communicated with each other. (This could also have been because I worked for state government where a lot of things appeared to have been frozen in time circa 1970 anyway.) We did have to communicate verbally, in person, a lot more because we didn’t have individual PCs, instant messaging, cell phones or video conferencing.

              I honestly can’t remember much being different about the morning greeting thing, though. I think it depended mostly on whether you worked in an open desk/cubicle setting or not. If you did, you greeted your fellow cubicle grunts sort of generally, “Morning, everyone” as you arrived at your desk, and if you had your own office you might nod pleasantly at the people you passed in the hallway, but you just went on into your office without taking special trouble to greet everybody around the building. I don’t recall anyone getting particularly offended by lack of a specific and personal “Good morning!”, however – of that I’m sure.

              Personally, I think that if someone says “Good morning, Ophelia!” to you personally, it’s kind of rude not to respond with at least a nod or smile, but I don’t think anyone should be expected to greet everyone all over the place, every single morning, before even setting down one’s purse and taking off one’s coat. I’m really not cheerful in the morning, and that definitely hasn’t changed in the last 30 years or so!

            2. LQ

              You most certainly did NOT have to greet the underclass. Right, this is only true if you narrow things down to a specific enough group. It was never expected that you greet everybody. The groups of folks you’ve been expected to greet varies by caste, culture, class, and many other groupings. And those people who are not a part of your “have to greets” are still people, who were not greeted. So no. It’s not like the past was a perfect egalitarian world of niceties and the present is a desolate wasteland of no one talking to anyone.

            3. Clisby

              Not sure what time period you mean by pre-computer days. I’m 65 (retired 3 years ago) and spent the last 27 years of my working life as a computer programmer. During my programmer days, starting in 1988, it would never have occurred to me to care about whether somebody greeted me. I don’t even remember caring whether people greeted me in my earlier career in journalism.

    1. Oh No She Di'int

      I would argue that even people who don’t like greetings, would nevertheless miss them if they disappeared from the office entirely.

      To wit, I used to work in a small office with just 4 people on most days. We all worked in a single, open room the size of a large living room. People would come in every day, say nothing, and just plop right down to work. Then it would basically be quiet as a tomb all day. Even worse, people would get up to leave for the day and say absolutely nothing. Just grab their stuff and walk out the door, passing within inches of everyone else. It was AWFUL!

      For a while I always tried to say hello, but gave up after getting no response for weeks. (I rarely had a chance to say goodbye as I tended to be the last to leave every day.)

      It was the worst, most inhospitable work environment I’d ever been in.

      1. MatKnifeNinja

        Sounds like paradise from this end.

        I’m surrounded by the TMI, oversharing, drama drama drama crowd.

        If it’s not about the issues with the spouse/kid/insert random person that gave them the shitty mood today, it’s health stuff. Like WAY too much TMI health stuff. Or how our fearless leader is running the country into the ground. Or he’s the best stuff since Baby Jesus walked the Earth. It’s like being surrounded by seagulls fighting for popcorn at the beach for the whole 9 hours.

        If I knew my coworkers didn’t actively hate my guts, and it’s do our jobs and get the hell out, I could live with that. It’s called work, not fun. So, while I wouldn’t prefer it, I’ll take it over the never ending sea gull calliope I’ve got now. I don’t need good morning/have a nice evening that bad.

        There is never a happy medium….

        1. Mr. Shark

          Of course there’s a happy medium. You spend 40 hours a week with these people, and you can’t even be polite and say hi, and maybe hear a little about their weekend?

          Yes, it can be oversharing (as you mention), but I think walking in and never saying anything to anyone else in the office would be awful. It would feel like a tomb, a punishment, rather than work. You can enjoy people’s company without it getting to the overshare limit. You can certainly ask people to not talk politics, or not overshare on health stuff as well, and still be respectful and have casual, brief conversation.

          1. Oh No She Di'int

            Yes, this!

            It did feel very isolating, almost anxiety-producing in my old office because you just sort of never knew what was going on or who was around you. And I’m talking 3 feet away in an open plan. You might think it would be nice for people to just up and leave. But imagine it’s you and one other person, and that person just walks out. Did she go to her car? Is she coming back? What’s going on? It’s actually very disorienting.

            More importantly it’s impossible to develop any sort of work rapport where you feel like a team has your back. If you feel like you can’t even say hello, it becomes very difficult to have the kind of work relationship where you feel comfortable saying, “Hey, can you do me a favor and get that TPS report out by 3:00?” There has to be some level of trust, which is very difficult to establish if you can’t even say “hello” to each other.

          2. Cranky Neighbot

            I’m with you on this.

            Frankly, not being talked to at all – even a “hi” or other Human 101 level acknowledgement – feels pretty bad. I’m introverted and I don’t like small talk and blah blah insert standard AAM quiet people stuff here, but I’m a human, not a piece of scenery.

            1. Jan

              I agree. It doesn’t take a whole lot of effort to say “hi” after all. Or smile and nod. Some acknowledgment of humanity!

          3. Bagpuss

            Yes, I don’t feel the need to have huge, in depth conversations or to be close friends with coworkers, but I think basic courtesy like greeting someone when you see them the first time is a positive.
            Not that you should interrupt people, or seek them out specially, but a greeting in passing it polite.

            I once had a coworker who thought a lot of himself and used to only greet people he felt were his equals or superiors. I didn’t realise, I thought he was just a bit rude, until I got a promotion and suddenly he started greeting me every morning, as I had apparently become worthy of his notice. But he was a git in many, many ways.

          4. JJ Bittenbinder

            Yeah, I’ve worked at about a half dozen places at this stage of my life. I’ve experienced both ends of the spectrum — the job I worked where I shared space with a woman who talked AT me all day, and about some highly personal things (I was less than three hours into my very first day when I heard about her sexual assault history) was difficult. But the pendulum swinging the other way and having zero interaction with the person who’s just a desk away is lonely. It’s not that she hates me. If I need a question answered or if I haven’t seen her for a week or so, she’s very nice. She’s just obviously one who prefers zero talking.

            I realize it’s a me issue, though, and manage my need for interaction accordingly.

        2. pope suburban

          Yeah, I don’t know if you and I are the odd ones out, but I don’t believe it’s mandatory to be friends with your coworkers. Be pleasant, sure, talk about small life events if you’d like, but you don’t have to be friends. It’s been my experience at my current and immediately former workplaces that many people struggle with that boundary, and it’s a little mystifying to me. I’m perfectly fine making small talk with someone during the week and then never seeing them outside the office (Not that work friendships are categorically *wrong,* just that they are not mandatory, and they are not something I personally really need). I’d really like to know much *less* about one particular colleague’s life, like they could maybe stop having their spouse stop in so they can have whispered fights in front of people who are trying to work. If that meant silence, well, I’d happily take that over expiring from fremdschamen.

          1. MatKnifeNinja

            My coworkers are not my true friends. If it wasn’t for a paycheck, our venn diagrams would never ever cross. Just because I’m pleasant and nice doesn’t mean I want to be your BFF after work.

            I want people to be healthy, happy and free from suffering. My coworkers are boundary stomping, social media trolling gremlins. A coworker quit three weeks ago, and people are all upset So and So hasn’t checked in and blocked them on Facebook. Sigh…

            I think we are on the same page. Money in in a baby shower card for kid #5, sure. I’m not going to watch a spouse sing at a karaoke contest after work.

      2. ...

        From reading this blog a lot, I think this is what a lot of people prefer! But I agree, it is almost creepy to me to not acknowledge anyone in the room for hours on end. Even a nod to me is enough! But I like to exchange pleasantries. It makes me feel….well… Pleasant!

        1. Windchime

          Yeah, I like to have friendly relationships with people at work. Someone to walk around the block with, to go to Starbucks or lunch with. We don’t hang out after work or on weekends and we don’t make the rounds to every desk to say good morning to every person. We have groups of 4 cubes together, and usually it’s just a general “Good morning” to whomever is in the cube group at the time. No biggie. As far as leaving, I usually just say, “See you tomorrow!” as I’m taking off. People either reply or not, again–no biggie either way.

      3. Third or Nothing!

        It’s kind of like that here, except throw in a snarky clique for extra fun. They sit near me and I hear them talk about stuff, but when I try to participate I get shut down. And everyone else is sequestered in offices. I mean, I don’t have much in common with them anyway (different stages of life, different parenting styles, different hobbies, even different tastes in food and television) but darn it I’d like to at least have a pleasant conversation at work from time to time!

      4. Mimi Me

        This describes my office now – except slightly larger space with cube walls. I can literally go days without speaking to any of the people sitting here in this office. I like it. Today I left the office for a mid-day appt. I left and came back without a word and nobody missed me.

      5. Clisby

        That sounds a heck of lot better than people nattering at you all day long. There has to be a middle ground here, where people say hi to each other, and maybe mention a movie or something they did over the weekend, but nobody expects to hear much about their personal lives.

    2. Fake Old Converse Shoes (not in the US)

      Because is common courtesy you greet everyone one by one or at least say “hello” out loud. If you don’t, you can be considered cold, rude, proud or some sort of diva that thinks is above the rest.

      1. EH

        It’s funny how much this particular thing gets under the skin – my hackles went up hard at “one by one.” I’m not going to go around to every desk and interrupt my coworkers who are obviously concentrating just so I can announce I have arrived. People who look at me and/or greet me get a reply greeting. Greeting the office as a whole loudly is a great way to piss off people who are in the creative groove writing or coding.

        I do work in tech, and things may be different in other offices, but interrupting people who are in the flow is Not Okay ™.

        1. Mimi Me

          I have a limited amount of emotional energy for what I do at work. A good deal of my job involves being on the phone and speaking with people outside of the company. I’m really not up for engaging in regular small talk and morning greetings with my co-workers, wasting my limited energy, when honestly I just want to get into what needs to be done at work. I think a lot of my co-workers feel the same because there’s very minimal conversation most days. The few people who are very close engage at lunch or after work.

      2. Zona the Great

        One by one? Everyone? These all seem like really uncharitable assessments to make of someone who just doesn’t go on a hello-tour of the office. Why can’t it just be because I’m not a morning person and assume we’ll eventually say our salutations as appropriate?

      3. Nanani

        One by one is absurd.
        A general greeting to the room/department/applicable division is plenty.

        People are here to work. The workplace is not a sitcom.

    3. ACDC

      I had a 3 month contract project in which the person I reported to did not say hello or goodbye to me ever. It wasn’t annoying, but made me feel unappreciated and a little unwelcome.

    4. HS Teacher

      My former boss (who, thankfully, retired) got mad at me about something I did that I still haven’t figured out and started to ignore me. She would walk out of a room if I entered it. If I asked her a question she’d turn heel and walk away. I always say good morning in passing, and it was quite annoying that she’d just ignore me.

      It was so crazy to me to see a grown professional acting like an insipid teenager. She was the worst boss I ever had, and I’ve had several terrible bosses in my 25 years of working.

  8. Aquawoman

    While I’m not a fan of the gentle reminder (I can withstand a full-strength reminder), I am forgiving of it because I also know people who will perceive hostility in the blandest of emails (and I find that more annoying than the gentle reminders).

    1. Zombeyonce

      It’s amazing how differently text can come across! At my office, just adding a period to the end of a certain sentence in Slack can let someone know you’re not kidding or being sarcastic. Now when I write emails I feel like I have to use exclamation points more often just to make sure people don’t think I’m being mean or robotic.

      1. Aquawoman

        I feel ya. Ever since that letter about proper email salutations, I’ve started being very aware of how I am starting every email!

      2. Manon

        This is why I struggle with emails sometimes, especially professional emails. Having grown up with texts, group messages, and internet chats, I’m very adept at conveying tone in those mediums with the use of emojis, abbreviations, and a certain style of incorrect grammar and I when I can’t use them, I’m always a bit unsure if I’m coming across how I mean to.

    2. Nanani

      This.
      Some people are, of course, acting in bad faith and will use any excuse they can think of to ignore a rule.
      “You didn’t remind me about the rule” becomes “You reminded me RUDELY”, and they still don’t follow it.

      But I completely understand covering one’s ass with pre-emptive softening language.

    3. Coverage Associate

      I have a boss with a flexible concept of time. He’ll ask me to follow up with people I know are acting in utmost good faith. Sometimes my choices are “gentle reminder” or “[boss] asked me to follow up.” The latter usually strikes me as less professional.

      1. SusanIvanova

        I see the latter as more professional: this isn’t just me being the overly helpful new teacher from the other letter, this is the boss who probably needs the info for some planning thing that I’m glad I don’t have to deal with.

    4. Quinalla

      I do give people reminders sometimes when I know or strongly suspect they forgot, but I just say something like “Reminder that I need this today by 5pm, thanks!” or “Checking on X project that goes out today, need any help?” I can see why some people use “gentle reminder” though, especially women as we often have to straddle the line between directness and softening the message or showing warmth. It sucks a lot :)

    5. fogharty

      I am always sending out reminders to large groups about deadlines. I usually resend the previous email announcing the deadline with the word “Reminder” added to the subject line and the body of the email (Reminder: the deadline for your nominees for Teapot Designer of the Year is December 25th).
      It is the reminder itself that burns, or if I were to actually use the phrase “Gentle Reminder”?

      1. Windchime

        I think it’s the phrase “gentle reminder”, as if the recipient is so fragile or emotional that they might blow up at a normal-strength reminder. There is just something about being approached extra gingerly and hesitantly that is super annoying.

    6. This Daydreamer

      Ugh I’ve got a colleague now who has said he hates getting emails. The group we’re a part of is never in the same room together except for quarterly meetings (and he’s skipped the past two). I think it’s becoming increasingly clear that his actual issue is that he never wants to be given any directions at all. He actually told me he doesn’t like the micromanagement and drama. I hope he never works in a traditional office environment or food service because this is the most easygoing workplace he’s ever going to see.

    7. smoke tree

      The phrase “gentle reminder” is patently ridiculous though. It makes me imagine that your reminder is a tiny kitten cradling a robin’s egg. I am constitutionally incapable of taking it seriously.

    8. RKMK

      I mean, there are people in here who take paper on chairs as *personal insult* and *disrespect*, imagine how other people could get about actual reminders about deadlines. “HOW DARE YOU ASSUME I AM NOT 100% ON TOP OF MY WORK AT ALL TIMES, EVEN THOUGH YOU ARE PROBABLY SENDING A GENERAL REMINDER TO EVERYONE WHO MUST SUBMIT THIS SO YOU SPEND LESS TIME FOLLOWING UP WITH THE 10% OF PEOPLE WHO ARE NOT ON TOP OF THEIR WORK WHO WILL ULTIMATELY SLOW YOU DOWN IN YOUR WORK THIS IS AN OUT.RAGE.”

  9. CommanderBanana

    Hitting send on an email and then immediately running down the hall to ask if I’ve seen your email.

    Stahp.

    1. Zombeyonce

      That’s when you prepare a piece of paper that says “Got the email. I’ll respond when I’m ready,” affix it to a straw, and hold it up whenever they come running.

    2. CoolCucumber

      It’s also annoying when they send the e-mail and then come to your desk/call you and start asking questions as if you’ve already read the e-mail, and then when you’re confused, ask if you’ve read the e-mail. :/

    3. Amber Rose

      People do this as a standard practice where I work. Mostly because, instead of writing in the email what they want me to do, they tend to just forward me a bunch of stuff and then come over and talk about it.

      Which bugs me a little because it’s like I haven’t even looked at the materials yet, so the instructions kind of feel like they are assuming a lot of things that I will have to figure out in hindsight.

    4. Mr. Shark

      Yes, I can’t stand that. Put in the e-mail your expectations on when you need something done, and be prepared to ask any questions.

      If you have something that’s a priority, just message or give me a quick call and say, “Hey, I sent you an e-mail that’s a big priority. I was hoping you could take a look at it by ____. Let me know if you have any questions.”

    5. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss

      Seriously. By it’s very nature email is for stuff that isn’t super urgent. If you need to speak to me immediately, stop by, call or send me an IM. Don’t expect me to read your email the very second it dings.

    6. Nanani

      THIS and its cousin, immediately calling on the phone (internal lines, not clients).
      Had at least one person doing each in the last office I worked in.

      It was never urgent, it was always Dude And Duder deciding their workflow was more important than mine

    7. pleaset

      When people do that to me I just tell them the truth, which is usually “No, I’m not looking at my email at the moment.”

      1. Mr. Shark

        Sometimes I’m the opposite. I usually check e-mail right away (I can’t stand unread e-mails). But if someone comes to my desk right after he sends the e-mail, I’ll say “Oh, I haven’t seen it yet.”

        Petty, yes. But what can I say. It seems crazy to run over to me and ask me if I’ve seen it if it is an e-mail.

    8. Quinalla

      Expecting someone to have looked at the email is annoying, I will sometimes send an email with a lot of details and call the person as the item is urgent, but not something I can get into on the phone without them having the email lists, etc. in front of them. I will ask if they are available to talk and reference the email, but I don’t expect them to have read it yet, that’s silly!

      Normally, I call/IM if more urgent and email if it is less urgent and sometimes with my first case I will call and then follow up with an email, but sometimes I’m sending a photo or drawing and it is easier if they can pull it up to discuss.

      1. Mr. Shark

        Yes, I do this, mostly for those people who WFH. I’ll need to have a discussion with them anyway, so I’ll send an e-mail with information that we’ll need to reference in our discussion. And it’s usually, “hey, this is what I need, and I want to make sure you have the information you need from me to move forward.” If they are busy, they can certainly tell me that they’ll get back to me later.

    9. Close Bracket

      ooo, I’ve got one! Hitting send on an email, printing out the email, and running down the hall with the print out and handing me a copy to review together. I swear, I almost dead pan looked that guy right in the eye and dumped that print out right in the recycle bin without breaking eye contact. I would probably have missed the recycle bin, though, which would have lessened the impact significantly.

      1. Jan

        There once was a woman here who would email, call you to say she sent the email, then within a minute she was at your desk to get your response. Fortunately, she has moved on.

    10. Not Sayin'

      There is a certain someone who does something similar in my office. Only, 85% of the time I have responded to their email while they were running to my office to see if I got their email.

      “Did you get my email?”
      “Yes. Did you get my response?”
      “No, what did it say?”

      Then, I have to stop what I’m doing and read my response to them.

      I hate them.

    1. kittymommy

      I just don’t get fistbumps. I mean I do, sorta, but I feel like an idiot doing them. For some reason I associate them with a 19-20 year old frat boy “bro” culture, none of which I am. I do them though, albeit very awkwardly.

      1. Amethystmoon

        I understand them if it’s cold/flu season. Otherwise, I don’t really see them as being necessary.

  10. Lilith

    I’m not angry in the morning. I haven’t had enough coffee & I don’t have my voice yet. So be satisfied with a nod & GOY.

    1. Fortitude Jones

      I’m with you. So glad I now work from home full time and don’t have to deal with this issue anymore.

  11. Wendy Darling

    Previous job pet peeve: Had a particular coworker who if you didn’t respond when she said hi to you (because, say, you didn’t hear her) would ask EVERY OTHER HUMAN BEING ON OUR FLOOR why you were angry with her, and then you’d get six people asking if you were mad at Petunia because she’s going around asking everyone why you’re mad. (Bonus: This coworker was actually extremely rude and abrasive so a lot of people were actually mad at her at any given time because she’d recently been a jerk to them, but to my knowledge no one responded to that by ignoring it when she said hi.)

    Current job pet peeve: The next person who makes a “lol wives are intolerable nags” joke is getting launched into the sun. It is 2019, not 1958.

    1. CoolCucumber

      I haven’t had this happen at work, but I hate when people ask why I’m angry/upset at them when I’m not. Being told I’m feeling an emotion I’m not feeling makes me angry/upset.

      I’d be really upset to find out someone was going around asking other people why I’m upset at them. As if other people would know, and now everyone will think there’s something wrong with me.

      1. Wendy Darling

        The dubious benefit to this coworker being such a jerk is that 1. if someone thought you were upset with her their response wasn’t “what’s your problem,” it was “oh no what did Petunia do THIS time?” and 2. people eventually caught on that Petunia would poll the entire floor in response to any perceived slight and just brushed it off, so at least it was only new people who got exercised about it.

      2. Alienor

        My late husband used to respond to “are you mad at me” with “no, do you want me to be?” I learned not to ask him that question because he could and would actually get angry about it, even if he’d been fine until then.

        1. CoolCucumber

          I think “are you mad at me?” isn’t irritating because then someone is just unsure if you’re mad at them or not, and then you can explain why you’re not and ask what made them think so. Saying “why are you mad at me?” implies you are definitely mad, and it’s more of an accusation.

          Asking “Are you mad at me?” and getting “No, do you want me to be?” sounds a bit hostile. It’s a question, not an accusation. Sorry you couldn’t ask that, and sorry about your husband’s passing. :/

          1. Devil Fish

            That only way that response isn’t a complete dick move is if it’s in response to someone who asks “Are you mad at me?” constantly, otherwise, yeah, blatantly hostile and attempting to shut down potentially useful and necessary discussion.

      3. Niktike

        The worst case of this I ever experienced was back when I was waiting tables in college. We had another girl hired who was a bit spoiled. After a pretty standard training period, another waitress found her literally crying in the bathroom. She said she was crying because we were all being mean to her (what?) because we were jealous she was prettier than all of us (WHAT?). We weren’t being mean to here BEFORE that, but we sure as heck were after.

    2. Combinatorialist

      My mom was one of the first women engineers hired at her company — and they hired four at the same time. The four of them would eat lunch together and HR rounded them up and said they were making the men feel uncomfortable by eating together (and not with them). They responded “we will eat lunch with them if they stop making jokes about how terrible their wives are. We find that unpleasant”. HR let them eat lunch by themselves after that (but didn’t stop the jokes)

      1. CoolCucumber

        What?! Why would a bunch of women sitting together make them uncomfortable? They were hired at the same time–makes sense that they would bond easier with people in the same situation. My best/first friends at one job were the ones I was hired with. :/

        Also, “you’re hurting the men’s feelings because you’re not giving them your attention, so you can’t sit together” but “men making an unpleasant atmosphere by complaining about women” is fine? -_-

    3. pleaset

      “you’d get six people asking if you were mad at Petunia because she’s going around asking everyone why you’re mad. ”

      There’s a phrase some friends and I use online, which I doubt I’d say in an office space but would be very satisfying to use: “Fuck all y’all.”

      Seriously – don’t these people have better things to do with their time?

    4. Anonymice

      I am a person who says nothing, because I am minding my own business. When I must sit at the front desk, I do not care one bit if people walk past me and do not speak, because I am working. (In addition, I have had acne for decades and having bad skin tends to make one avoid contact with others as much as possible.)
      We have a coworker in our department who is also a habitual jerk; she would reply rudely when some of us greeted her in the morning, and we avoided unnecessary interactions with her for good reason.
      Now she insists on saying hello and goodbye to me every day. If I leave without speaking, she says goodbye in an irritated tone. I suppose I’m being rude, but having to listen to her lose her temper, cry, and take her frustrations out on others, almost every day, and all in front of our bosses, I just want to avoid her!

  12. Moray

    I think part of it is that there’s never just one instance of the “annoying” thing. It will barely register at first. It’s the grain of sand in the work-oyster that ongoing repetition layers on bit by bit until it builds a huge frustration-pearl. It can help to remember why it started out as a grain of sand and not a big rock when it first began.

    1. Seeking Second Childhood

      Yes. The most aggravating sand in my eye lately is someone who’s approximately my level and only a few years junior. But you let her know one time that something different is happening and she practically writes a procedures document to explain why she’ll always do it that way forever and forever.
      With emails to everyone that make me start quoting Alice’s Restaurant (twenty-seven 8 x 10 colored glossy pictures with circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back of each one…)

  13. Sally Forth

    I think you are spot on in identifying that people perceive certain activities as possible imbalances of power.

    1. PM Punk

      Agreed. I tend to be pretty forgiving about annoying office conduct, but I had a higher up who would do things such as plop additional papers onto a stack I was shredding without a word and I would nearly lose it.

    2. anon61

      I agree.

      I think many people get upset at work because, in many workplaces, particularly in the USA, workers have not only little or no power, but few rights and no autonomy either.

      Basically, being an at will employee in the USA, particularly in a non union, non civil service, “exempt” employee situation, which is the case for the vast majority, means that you have a similar status to a child, when it comes to your workplace conditions, with the difference being that your employer can just dump you whenever he wants to, unlike your parent!

      Don’t want to go to the “teambuilding” exercise moving heavy rocks in the hot summer sun all day on Deertick Island? Too bad, they can fire you for it if you don’t! Don’t want to work 60 hours a week, including nights and weekends? Tough noogies! Want it warm or cool or bright or dim in your workplace? Too bad, you have no say. Love your office? Tough, we just re arranged everything and now you get a cubicle next to Johnny Talks Too Much, Janey Nosy Nose, and the restroom.

      As Alison says, “Yes, your boss can do that,” to just about anything, no matter how obnoxious, unfair, dictatorial, and tyrannical. Your only recourse is to politely ask him or her not to. Like Oliver Twist asking for some more gruel!

      Endless exposure to this crap makes people anxious. And it makes them weirdly focus on small things. Like when your boss tells you you can’t have a candy dish on your desk after a co worker complains about it. And like when my aunt got upset when they told her to decorate the office Christmas tree, and she did so, only to have her supervisor tell her that she had to use all the ornaments they had, not just the ones that my aunt felt made the best display.

      People crave some measure of autonomy and freedom, even if it is only in regard to trivia.

  14. The Man, Becky Lynch

    Someone once left me a phone message on a post it, I hadn’t had this happen before and it bothered me way too much.

    It was that it was left, without a word, so it could have easily just been breezed away or shuffled into papers and lost for who knows how long [it wasn’t urgent but it was a “Call them back today” kind of deal].

    I’m cool if you hand me a number written on a post it and say “This person called” or if you email or message me with this information because those things at least only rarely get lost in the shuffle. But a post it willy nilly on my desk while I stepped away to run to check on something in another department, stawwwwp. Use technology or wait until I return.

    I have one person who leaves written things for me but also messages me later to confirm that I found it. That’s oddly fine because at least they’re still taking ownership of the message until they have confirmed it’s been received by me.

      1. Environmental Compliance

        It does depend on where you leave it, though. If I need to message via Post It, I’ll post it to their computer screen so it doesn’t get lost on a desk, or stand it up in their keyboard. Putting it on other (unrelated) papers, or just randomly on a desk, it’s likely to get lost.

        I don’t think it’s the Post It part as much as the “tiny piece of paper, thrown arbitrarily on the desk, in hopes you’ll find it later” part. I would be just as vaguely peeved at someone leaving a piece of scrap paper with a note on top of other papers (where it’s hard to see it’s different to the stack that was already there) as a Post It note.

      2. CoolCucumber

        Probably should have put it in a better spot though, like in the middle of her computer monitor? That’s where people usually put them for me.

      3. The Man, Becky Lynch

        If you hand it directly to the person, sure. If it were put on my monitor, probably wouldn’t have even flinched at that.

        To just leave it stuck to some random spot on their desk, no. It’s literally only happened once in going on two decades, especially with the advancements in technology.

        But again, micowaving your lunch, leaving things on chairs and picking up someone’s thing to move it out of your way are also very common things. That doesn’t make them less likely to be a pet peeve.

    1. SomebodyElse

      Maybe they should have left the post it msg on your chair

      …runs away quickly to avoid the wrath of the chair venters :)

  15. Mediamaven

    Marketing jargon words used in an effort to look smart and cool. Level set. Ladder up. Swim lanes. Cadence. But what’s worse is the person to hijacks marketing jargon words and takes them as their own the minute they hear them. Like it was their word all along.

    1. Environmental Compliance

      The first time I met one of our parent company’s staff who works in tandem with one of our staff members, they went through an entire 10 minute minispeech using nothing but jargon (with the exception of things like “and”, “the”, etc.).

      It was not a good first impression. The 10 minutes they took up, they literally communicated nothing. The overall bro-ish-ness also didn’t help. I’m still not super fond of them (because of the continued bro-culture they perpetuate), but we definitely got off on the wrong foot because of that jargon vomit speech.

    2. LCL

      Yes, when a word gets adopted in a new usage because some clever person thinks it applies, but it really doesn’t, but enough people pick it up it becomes common usage but they can’t really explain how what they said makes sense. It’s the lack of thought, I guess. This year’s example is wheelhouse, recent but not new is bucket list, older is kicked in to mean something starts or happens, older still but still happening is hike to mean increase in something. A hike is a walk in the woods.

      1. fposte

        “Hike” meaning to hoist something is about the same age as “hike” meaning “to walk,” and “hike” the noun for a rise in something can be dated back to the 1930s. So this one really isn’t incorrect or even a neologism; it’s just a taste thing.

        1. LCL

          I’m wondering if there may be a west coast east coast thing going on. I don’t remember hearing hike used to mean increase in the press until the war on government, contract with America days. It was a trick used to describe something standard using negative words, so you could paint your opponents as incompetent and evil without actually calling them that. And it was targeted at government operations, so I am a little sensitive about it.

        2. londonedit

          In the UK it’s really common to see phrases like ‘interest rate hike’ in the press, and it’s definitely not a new thing.

      2. only acting normal

        “It’s in my wheelhouse”, meaning in my area of interest/responsibly, is a very old idiom. Are they using it differently?

      3. Devil Fish

        Do you have examples of how any of these are being misused?

        I’ve heard wheelhouse (as in skillset/expertise), kicked in (as in starts) and hike (as in increase) all my life. Bucket list is the newest one for me but how are people using it in business?

    3. Manders

      Ugh, yes. I work in a field of marketing that already has plenty of jargon/weirdly named things to keep track of. When people mix in even more buzzwords, presentations turn into complete word salad.

    4. Imaginary Number

      My coworker and I have invented several meaningless phrases that we’ll occasionally inject. Our goal is to eventually see them wind up in an executive’s vocabulary.

      1. curly sue

        Author Georgette Heyer did that with supposed regency-era slang / jargon that she used in her historical romances. I believe she ended up winning a plagiarism case against another author because she could prove that she’d invented most of the terms and they were entirely ahistorical.

        1. Devil Fish

          Do you mean copyright infringement? Plagiarism isn’t illegal and any cases that have gotten contracts pulled in publishing are plagiarism that is also copyright infringement because the latter is the crime.

            1. MsSolo

              Copyright is the legal basis on which you can sue/prosecute for plagiarism. As Devil Fish says, plagiarism in itself isn’t illegal (I could plagiarise Shakespeare plays, for example, and claim they were my own work, without legal repercussion unless I was also committing another crime, like trying to defraud people) but copyright gives someone a legal position on which to assert that they are the original creator and prevent other people plagiarising their work.

    5. BossLady

      Ugh, agreed. We have a staff member here who is truly incompetent. He constantly picks up “cool” jargon though and throws it around. If you ask him for any level of clarification on it though, it just crumbles? Like, can you give me an example of what your thinking of when you say we should level up this project? Commence stammering and/or crickets…

    6. Muse of Ire

      In the 80s, I had a boss who was fond of using “walk the talk.” I could see his blood pressure perceptibly rising each time he sent his presentations for editing and I always changed it to “walk the walk.”

    7. only acting normal

      I read a Heilmeier Catechism today which failed so hard at “absolutely no jargon” that I could barely understand it, and it was in my area of expertise!

    8. Jan

      If I hear our office manager say “add value” or “five star service” one more time…. (we are not a hotel, we are a law firm)

      1. Kat in VA

        Oof, we do “value add”, “cadence”, “circle back” and a host of others I don’t want to think about…

          1. londonedit

            I worked with someone who used ‘action’ as a verb all the time. ‘Boss is going to action me to send that report’; ‘We need to action Marketing to write that press release’. Argh.

    9. atalanta0jess

      Lean/Six Sigma make me lose my cool because of this. I cannot stand all the lingo for simple stuff. I have to deep breathe through it.

  16. TypityTypeType

    People who can’t or won’t keep track of their own work.

    “Did I send you this?” (No.) “Did you ever send this back?” (Yes.) “Have you looked at the owl-fluffing pamphlet yet?” (No, because I asked you for it two days ago and you said it wasn’t ready for me and you’d let me know, and you didn’t.)

    Any one time is no big deal; everybody loses track of things sometimes. But as a regular thing, it gets wearing really, really quick.

    1. Ada

      Oh my gosh, yes. I have one co-worker whom I need to send countless reminders of when things are due to me because she almost never checks the communal calendar. And when she does checks the calendar, she’ll sometimes gloss over the internal deadline she needs to make and gets fixated on the client due date as the “real” one, as if nothing needs to be done after her phase of the project. And on top of that, even if I send her a document that clearly shows any changes that need to be made, she’ll want me to walk her through each individual change via email because opening the document and looking for the highlighted portions “takes too long.”

    2. Seeking Second Childhood

      People who send me a project request with materials.
      And then send it three or four more times with variant materials.
      And then can’t remember what the differences are or why.

      1. London Calling

        People who send accounts payable snotty emails asking WHY payment of this invoice is being held up – cc’ed to everyone from God downwards, obvs. Because you didn’t send it to me like I told you the last gazillion times you need to, dude, and this is the first time I’ve seen it – also copied to everyone from God down.

        Don’t play games with me just because you’re in marketing and I’m back office, newbie. You will not win.

        1. Darkened Meadow

          Argh! One of my biggest AP peeves is when vendors send invoices to the people who placed the orders…and the invoices are never forwarded to AP. Then the employee/vendor/boss complains about the account being past due. Why do vendors not send the invoices directly to AP?!
          In addition, our invoices are approved electronically. I have to send out an e-mail EVERY DAY to remind coworkers to logon and review their invoices. If something is late because it was not approved, I will be held responsible.

          1. London Calling

            Invoices going to ordering parties not AP is a perennial pain in the proverbial in my job. I had some last week that went back to FEBRUARY that the supplier was chasing up, who knows where they went. And purchase orders not being approved….NO, PEOPLE, reminding you to do it is not my job, doing it anyway is your job!

            And breathe.

            I keep all my emails so if someone jumps on me for an unpaid invoice I can say ‘See? did my bit.’ Unfortunately I have some colleagues who make that necessary.

            1. Darkened Meadow

              I forgot about vendors not sending monthly statements or delivering orders without a PO! I feel your pain.

              Other stuff:
              – Closing out the fiscal year and having to call for invoices by reviewing the open PO report–with some on there that go back eleven or twelve months and no one has checked on before now.
              – Management “closing” purchasing save for emergencies, but ordering office supplies, expensive equipment, new vehicles, and sometimes purchasing items on the very last day of the fiscal year.
              – Management posting deadlines and then not enforcing them.

              They are putting me in charge of receiving AND paying the bills in a few months. I can hardly wait to see how that is going to work.

    3. Akcipitrokulo

      They may know, and are trying to be polite/ give you a graceful way out.

      “Did I send you…?” could mean “I sent you it 3 days ago at 13:47 and expected you to have responded by EOD yesterday.” or “I don’t think you’ve read it based on that comment…”

      So there is an argument that they could be blunter – but it may not be that they don’t know if they sent you it.

      1. TypityTypeType

        Nah. The “tactful pester” is a different phenomenon, and one I have used myself. Not what I’m talking about.

    4. Clay on my apron

      Okay, sometimes this is me. But generally only when I am completely overworked/overwhelmed, and doing my job, half of your job, and someone else’s job who hasn’t been hired yet.

    5. Not Sayin'

      I have a co-worker who is in charge of taking minutes for a very important monthly meeting. Because she is unwilling to make a decision about what is important to put in the minutes and what is not (even though that is her job) she sends a verbatim draft around for department heads to edit her minutes prior to posting. She always starts with me, because “you’re my slasher!” While it’s true I cut out about 75% of what she puts in the minutes that pertains to my area (because she puts in EVERYTHING) I cannot decide for others what to cut/keep relevant to their departments.

      Do your own job!

  17. mildly disgruntled

    Minor annoyance of the day: Lemonade
    I’m an exec assistant and my boss had me take orders for lunch for 28 people. Each person was able to choose what they wanted from a restaurant, then I took their individual payments, went to the restaurant, paid the 28 individual bills, made sure all the food was correct, and then delivered the food (and change).
    I am glad to do this and from past experience, I’ve created an easy ordering and paying system using Google Docs.
    However….I refuse to schlepp 28 drinks from the restaurant, to my car, to my office, so I ask that everyone get a drink from our vending machines.
    One woman today asked for lemonade. I was like, I’m sorry, drinks are in the vending machines. She was like, but that restaurant has such good lemonade. And I was like….I’m sorry, I can’t get drinks.
    It’s bad enough loading 28 meals in my car…28 drinks would be a total wreck. If you want lemonade, jump in your car and go get some…

    1. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss

      You’re a saint. There is no way in hell I’m taking 28 individual orders (even without drinks, collecting 28 different forms of payment and standing at a restaurant while they ring up those 28 orders. Nope, not gonna happen.

    2. Buttons

      That sounds like a nightmare for you and the restaurant. They ring up all 28 separately and make change for each one?? Bringing back 28 drinks is a ridiculous request!

    3. Fortitude Jones

      Right. Or accompany you to the restaurant to pick up drinks for people who would like them.

    4. Dagny

      If the restaurant has online ordering, and your boss is okay with the 28 people ordering their own lunches, they should all order their own lunches online. Put your name in as the person to pick it all up.

      1. The Man, Becky Lynch

        It would also allow people to pay with card.

        However, this would mean they would then start ordering drinks…and the comment is all about banning drinks, so no don’t let them do it themselves!

        1. Kat in VA

          Foodsby just started this. I’m thrilled because keeping track of anything more than 4-5 individual orders makes me grind my teeth.

    5. The Man, Becky Lynch

      That’s so many meals and you also have to juggle the money, I’m glad that you’re so cool about it, that’s awesome but it made my stomach turn. I’m glad you put your foot down on the lemonade request!

    6. Ree

      Fellow EA here, I have a cap of 12 people I will take individual lunches for. Meeting with more than 12? They get a variety of items from the restaurant of choice. Ordered from that restaurant with me before? Hi, you will get a Spicy Deluxe Chicken Sandwich until the end of time.
      Also, you’re not only a saint for taking 28 individual orders but for taking THEIR money and bringing back change! :O AND for going to pick up! DoorDash is the name of our game if a restaurant doesn’t deliver.
      I use a corporate AMEX card and am annoyed at the extra step of expensing the meal for by listing each person who attended in my report.

      1. Devil Fish

        No way in hell I’m dealing with that, even for friends.

        If I front the cash and they’re supposed to pay me back, there’s a very real and non-zero chance I never get paid. (If a manager wants to put everything on the corporate card and have everyone Venmo them to reimburse, that’s different.)

    7. Junior Assistant Peon

      How many of the 28 were highly specific and nitpicky, like a Whopper with extra pickles and no lettuce, a chicken sandwich with extra mayo and no tomato, etc?

    8. Mediamaven

      Out of that whole story I think it’s big of you to simply be upset about the lemonade. I mean, the whole thing is obscene! 28 payments? Does that mean you get to the restaurant at 6 a.m. to make it back for a noon lunch!

      1. Clay on my apron

        I read this as, “mean of you” and did a double take.

        There’s no way I’d do individual lunch orders and separate payments for 28 people. I’d be grumpy if I was asked to do it for 6. I’d be a terrible executive assistant :-/

    9. HRAwry

      At my old employer, we would agree on the place and then one person would enter the orders in through either UberEats or Foodora. To pay we got a rechargeable card and just put the money on there.

  18. Amber Rose

    I want to scream at the top of my lungs, STOP SINGING! I SWEAR TO GOD I WILL TAPE YOUR MOUTH CLOSED.
    But I don’t because even though it’s the actual most annoying noise on the planet, it’s not the actual end of the world.

    Yes, I have politely asked her to stop. It didn’t work. And I think sometimes that lends itself to the growing frustration over minor things, not so much the power imbalance but the feeling of helplessness, like you can’t do anything about ANYTHING, not even one person’s tiny annoying habit, and then everything just spirals from there.

    People are bad at helpless feelings. You see it a lot with people who are dealing with family members who are very sick: they start like, over planning/obsessing about meals and visits and travel and stuff just for that sense that something, anything, can be controlled.

    1. EH

      I have multiple coworkers who whistle in the open office area of our building. You nailed it with the helplessness – I can’t do anything about it without coming off as a weird jerk, and that makes it even more enraging. UGH.

      1. Former Young Lady

        Whistling in public ought to be a misdemeanor at the very least. Felony if it’s not real whistling but that “pushing air through my teeth to sound cheerful and productive” noise.

    2. Serin

      Oh, dear. My co-worker in the next cube is a hummer.

      On the other hand, he and I are exactly the same age, which means I can hum a few notes of a Tom Petty song and be sure of hearing it back from him for the rest of the day. So at least I can choose my music.

    3. Dame Judi Brunch

      Yes! Coworkers singing!
      A coworker at an old job used to sing. I politely asked her to either sing a little softer or not at all, because it was difficult to concentrate. I complimented her and put it all in me. (Her singing was really terrible but I couldn’t tell her that). Headphones were not an option, we had to be on the phones a lot.
      She was so offended that she started singing louder and badmouthed me to everyone she could. Prior to this we had a pretty good working relationship. I made sure my request was as kind and professional as I could make it. Sigh.
      Good riddance to that job.

    4. The New Wanderer

      I recently sat next to a guy on an airplane who jiggled his leg for almost 3 full hours, non stop. It shook my seat enough that I noticed but not enough to be truly disruptive. He had some other cues that suggested he wasn’t 100% in control of it, so I didn’t say anything. I knew if I did and he couldn’t control it for whatever reason, I would feel that much more irritated when it continued.

      1. Mimi Me

        I once worked for a company that gave out pedometers for some health related walking contest. The guy who shared my cube space was a leg tapper. He’d sit and bounce his leg all day. I’d hear the keys in his pocket jingling and his heel tapping all day. Drove me nuts. And then he won the contest. Apparently he realized the pedometer was counting his leg tapping as steps and he’d log them as if they were. Pissed me off! He got a $100 Visa gift card for his annoying habit.

        I used to annoy him too. I listen to a lot of books or podcasts and occasionally something funny would happen and I’d laugh or chuckle. He hated that. He would always interrupt me to ask what I was laughing at and then tell me he thought it was distracting. It happened like once out of every 3 weeks so not super often, but enough it drove him nuts.

    5. WS

      I have one co-worker who has a gorgeous voice, is always in tune, and it’s delightful to hear her singing as she goes about her day. Unfortunately, this has encouraged all the other not-so-great singers, but I don’t feel that I can say “You, you and you, knock it off, but Sansa keep singing!”

  19. AliV

    I thought we all agreed that “gentle reminder” means “please do you effing job already.”

    1. !

      I hate, hate, hate “Do the needful.” or even “Please do the needful.” Where did this even come from?

      1. Nanani

        Pretty sure that’s Indian English. It may have seeped into other Englishes from Indian English speakers or just from interaction between India and other countries?

        1. Oh No She Di'int

          Oh thank you for explaining that. If you’re right, it’s sort of a relief. I too had been wondering where this phrase suddenly came from that sounded so unnecessarily stiff to my (American) ears!

        2. Zo

          Agree. My boss, a colleague from India, and I were talking about that phrase (grates on my boss and my nerves) and the colleague said she was trained to always include that phrase in business emails. It was considered rude / not professional to not include it.

      2. !

        Yeah, I figured it was an Indian phrase because the only people who ever use it are our (Indian) consultants. Still annoying though! :)

      3. bdg

        I have never heard of this but I kind of love it. What’s the context for using it? “Hi, I have sent you the document. Please do the needful.” Is that right??

      4. Windchime

        I don’t even know what that means, to be honest. Does it mean, “please do whatever you need to do to get this task accomplished?” If so, it’s kind of redundant. I have 3 colleagues who are from India and none of them do this.

  20. Buttons

    I think it is that it is constant. The annoying thing the person does, doesn’t just do it one time, they do it all the time. I try to remember that we are all annoying to someone. That knowledge doesn’t stop me from wanting to throat punch someone on a daily basis.

    1. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss

      I think it also has to do with whether or not you like the person. If it’s someone I can’t stand, everything they do annoys me. If it’s someone I like, I can usually let the little stuff go.

      1. Fortitude Jones

        This is the biggest factor, and I was surprised Alison didn’t mention it. You’re more likely to not be overly annoyed by the little things if you like/enjoy your coworkers as opposed to if you don’t.

        1. Buttons

          True, my like for my husband is why he is still alive, despite his habit of clipping his toenails in the living room. :/

          1. Devil Fish

            I clip my toenails in the living room—but then I vacuum after. Tell your husband to vacuum.

      2. New Job So Much Better

        I have a coworker I like, though that is fading. She is across from me, and every day is an assortment of her moans, groans, whining, complaining, singing, humming, cursing, talking to herself, etc.

      3. Seeking Second Childhood

        Not always the case… my newest pet peeve is with someone I do like. When they rearranged our desks, she’s now facing my good ear so I hear her every word unless I wear my hearing protection. Every. Word.
        Although I suppose it’s the fault of “the powers that be” anyway — and we all are grumpy with anonymous powers that be upstairs. (Apologies if that’s someone’s username.)

      4. Batgirl

        This is absolutely true. Ive not said anything to my humming co-worker, even though I have to physically remove myself when he starts, because I suspect that’s it not actually as mindless and tuneless as it sounds to me. I’m afraid I will bring attention to the fact that I simply don’t like him and that he generally bugs me.

  21. Lynca

    I’ll admit it. I’m a person that uses the speaker instead of the receiver because my receiver is broken. Work hasn’t replaced it and I am stuck with this situation for the foreseeable future.

    1. !

      Get those around you to complain about it and maybe that will be the push needed to get you a new phone. ;)

  22. Dagny

    Yes, some people do get annoyed at small things and need to chill.

    But as one of my friends astutely pointed out, there’s a reason why they say it’s the last feather that broke the camel’s back, not the last brick. The annoying thing may just be jumping on someone’s last nerve when the person is rather dissatisfied with the job in general, or may be the only concrete thing someone can point to in a string of passive-aggressive and belittling actions.

    1. Fortitude Jones

      Agreed – when I hated previous jobs, everything everyone did at work drove me up a wall.

      1. The Original K.

        Yeah, my best friend was FURIOUS when the BigLaw firm for which she worked cancelled bagels on Friday. Never mind that she was paid well and could buy all the bagels she wanted; no more bagel Fridays was a huge injustice. It had nothing to do with the bagels and everything to do with the fact that she just hated the job and the firm, and that was a small bright spot that was now gone. (She no longer works there.)

        1. Manders

          Yes, food crankiness is such a common symptom of bigger problems! At my last job, the fights over potlucks and company-provided donuts and coffee were VICIOUS. It was a law firm that nickel and dimed its underpaid staff, then promised “morale boosters” that were supposed to be on a regular schedule but weren’t actually done consistently. It was the perfect breeding ground for the pettiest possible resentments.

          1. Fortitude Jones

            When I worked at Evil Law Firm, one of the few benefits we had that I could partake in was free coffee out of a vending machine (this stuff was surprisingly good). When they started charging 50 cents for this, I ripped them to shreds on our employee satisfaction survey for it. That place was a dumpster fire in hell – the least they could have done was let us keep the free coffee, especially since they didn’t provide a Keurig or other coffee machine, nor did they allow us to leave the office during work hours to get coffee (not even from the coffee shop that was in our building’s lobby).

    2. Manders

      Yes! When I got really tetchy about tiny things at previous jobs, it was a sign that I really wanted to walk away from the job. I was focusing on the small daily issues that seemed like they could theoretically be fixed because the real problem was too huge to deal with.

      That said, I think sometimes a job can be great but have some element that’s putting people in positions where the potential for conflict increases. I’m a crank about open offices, especially cramped ones, because I think a lot of people who could get along just fine in a different environment will drive each other absolutely nuts in an environment where every little thing they do can be seen/heard/smelled.

  23. Samwise

    Papers on the chair: If you don’t like papers on your chair, you can let me know, nicely, that you would prefer that I not put them on your chair and instead put them [location].

    I will say that I only put papers on someone’s chair if there is literally no other place to put them where they won’t fall over. Why not just put them in the person’s intraoffice mailbox? I’m glad you asked! Because that person also never picks up their mail from the box. (Yes, I have someone in mind…)

    1. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss

      I think a lot of these things could be resolved by someone actually communicating with others. So many people I see on here are afraid to talk to their co-workers. I realize that some may be asking about what particular language should be used, but most of these issues can be resolved with talking to someone.

      I’m not a mind reader. If a co-worker isn’t at their desk, and there isn’t an inbox on their desk, I don’t know that you don’t like papers on your chair. It doesn’t bother me, so I wouldn’t think it would bother someone else. I’m not going to walk by your desk every 5 minutes until you return if I have something to leave for you. TELL me you prefer me to leave something on your keyboard, or wherever and then you don’t have to get yourself all worked up when someone leaves papers on your chair.

      1. LH Holdings

        Thank you so much for this comment!!!! Everyone is assuming that every person has an inbox or interoffice mail and this is so not the case. COMMUNICATION will alleviate so many of these problems but this passive-aggressive streak that is running through the comments is so childish. Sending emails to trash, dumping things on the floor, irrational fury? Let people know your process and THEN get angry if they don’t follow it, not the other way around.

        1. EventPlannerGal

          Agreed. Sometimes I think if you removed every letter/comment from this site that can be summarised as “I become seethingly angry that my coworkers cannot read my mind” or “what is the arcane hidden meaning of my coworkers’ every action?”, there would be about six letters left.

      2. Seacalliope

        Yes, but one of the aggravating things about a paper on your chair is that it doesn’t necessarily have the name of the person who left it. Sometimes it is directed work that only could have come from one person. Much of the time, there is no way to link it to anyone and tell them your preference.

        1. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss

          So then you ask around and once you find who left it, let them know to 1. not leave stuff on your chair and 2. make sure you know it’s from them. Bottom line is that people can’t read your mind and it’s ridiculous to seethe in anger when others don’t know what you need or want.

      3. A

        Agreed!! And I think the expectation some seem to have on here of everyone asking for people preferences ahead of time, is not realistic. If you have an issue, speak up. I’m not going to pre-emptively ask for preferences of every person I *might* encounter, on something that I truly would not think of as being potentially divisive.

        That being said, I don’t work in a job where there’s a lot of paper floating around. If I was in an admin role where I’m regularly passing out paperwork or distributing things from the printer etc, I might be inclined to ask ahead.

        For the most part, I assume we are all capable of self advocating. If not, well… hate to sounds rude, but that’s a you issue.

    2. Llama Face!

      I have an inbox (very blatant sign pointing to it) as well as a sign requesting that people don’t put things on my chair. My desk space is well organized and each shelf/cupboard/filing tray is clearly labelled. Guess what still happens on a regular basis? :(

      Long story short, unfortunately I don’t think it’s about lack of communication as much as about people’s lack of consideration for their coworker’s preferences.

      (And, yes, I do follow my own advice. I have about 3 dozen coworkers and I’ve mostly learned where they prefer papers to be placed on their desks. For the ones I don’t know, I ask.)

  24. Spreadsheets and Books

    There’s a woman at the desk directly in front of me who takes every call on speaker, including the ones where she’s fighting with her husband or her nanny.

    I spend most of the day seething about it.

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch

      My fondest memories of work is my boss who only used speaker phone only because I got to hear the awful things people said to him. They were so nice to me since I answered and then transferred it to him. “Good morning! This is Ed from Vendor, I’m looking for Boss. Have a wonderful day, ma’am”…boss picks up “SEND ME MY MONEY OR I WILL EAT YOUR LIVER WITH SOME FAVA BEANS!” *shivers*

      But seriously if anyone else did it, I would seethe as well, that was the one-off and I also accept this kind of nonsense when it’s from the person who signs my checks verses a coworker who does not ;) Just like I was fine when my boss was forgetful or needed extra hand holding or whatever but a coworker who just seems to be bad at their job, nope.

    2. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss

      Have you asked her to stop? You can come at it from the angle of being distracting to you while you’re trying to work. Why seethe about it instead of addressing it?

      1. Spreadsheets and Books

        She’s not on my team and she’s a more important position within this particular arm of the organization. My director feels the same – she sits behind me and can still clearly hear the conversations – but she also acknowledges that it’s not really our place to speak up.

        Other people have said something, however, and it doesn’t seem to be helping. One guy on the phone who was griping about always being on speakerphone with her said (and I heard him clearly, on account of the speakerphone) “everyone around you must f-ing hate you, pick up the receiver” and she just laughed.

        1. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss

          It actually IS your place to speak up if it’s affecting your ability to do your work. The fact that your director isn’t willing to speak up either is a problem because they should have your back.

    3. Seeking Second Childhood

      Right up there wiht people who take personal calls in an open quiet workspace because “no one else is around”. Well actually we’re just on the other side of this 5 foot privacy barrier that doesn’t block sound, working, while you’re saying “hi sweetie” into a speakerphone.

    4. Former Young Lady

      My ex-officemate did this. She tended to be type to yell on speaker, and she had a voice like Owen Wilson throwing up.

    5. Windchime

      Our office doesn’t have too many people who do the complete call on speaker, but there are a bunch who insist on hitting the speaker button to dial, and then don’t pick up the handset until the ringing starts. WHY do you do this??

  25. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss

    I’ve seen the morning greeting thing addressed on both sides here many times. I fall on the “not a morning person” side. If you say hi or good morning to me, I will respond. It may not be a super friendly greeting if it’s right after I walk in or before I’ve had some coffee, but I will respond. Now if you come at me all chatty, or bombard me with something about work before I’ve had a chance to log into my computer, then I will stop you and politely tell you to STFU (not in those exact words of course). I’m not going to be offended, but I am going to let you know that I need a minute to settle in.

    If my greeting is not as friendly as yours, it’s not a personal attack on you and there’s no reason to be offended. I’ve responded, just not in the way you may have. And honestly even if I pass by someone, say hi and they don’t respond, my first thought is not going to be that they’re an asshole. I’m going to assume they were preoccupied or didn’t hear me.

    You’re stuck in an office for 40+ hours a week with a large group of different personalities, and taking offense to everything others do because they don’t do it the same way you would is not a personal attack, and it’s not worth the brain space to take offense to it.

    1. Mr. Shark

      [i]Now if you come at me all chatty, or bombard me with something about work before I’ve had a chance to log into my computer, then I will stop you and politely tell you to STFU (not in those exact words of course). I’m not going to be offended, but I am going to let you know that I need a minute to settle in.[/i]

      Yes, this so much. If you see me walk in and start asking me for something before I have a chance to sit down, catch my breath, log on, and at least start reading e-mails, I’m going to have a pretty bad attitude about the whole thing. Give me 10 minutes at least. And it’s even worse when it’s not a priority, just something the person thinks can’t wait for no apparent reason. Ugh!

  26. Darkened Meadow

    Today we had our weekly departmental meeting. We were told to enter and leave the through the department’s front door, not one of the side doors, and let management know when we leave every day. We are a business office and management can’t walk a few steps around the corner to eyeball us every day? My manager does not even speak to half the department during the day, even though we are all in the same room (in cubicles with doors). I wonder if it would be wrong to email them every day when I leave?

      1. Seeking Second Childhood

        Dollars to donuts there’s one person who is abusing their manager’s willing to be flexible and they’re putting a new requirement on everyone instead of, you know, MANAGING the one problem.

      2. Darkened Meadow

        Because they thought one person was still in the office one afternoon and left the lights on. They had to call one of the deans to come back and turn off the lights when that was not the case. Our space is small, just six cubicles crammed together, and you can walk around the entire thing in 30 strides–I checked! Later this week I will try to laugh at this.

        Management said we were not to work past quitting time without prior authorization, so I make darn sure I am walking out my office door on the dot, so they know I’m gone!

        1. Mimi Me

          It’s been requested that the last person leaving our building do a quick shout out and bathroom check to see if anyone is still in the office before setting the alarm. Apparently someone used the bathroom before leaving one day and everyone assumed she left (despite purse and coat on front counter). She ended up sounding the alarms when she came out of the bathroom and then had to stay until security came back to verify things were properly locked up. They refer to it as a “Lois” as in “Make sure you check to see everyone’s gone so you don’t pull a Lois.”

        2. Buttons

          That is overkill. Someone can just walk around and check, or there is one person who is assigned that job, and if they are leaving early they ask someone else to do it.

        3. nonymous

          I feel like this could be fixed by putting the lights on a timer. My org has a hard stop for end of day and the building is set up such that the lights turn off promptly. In the areas that people routinely are scheduled to work overtime, they have an override button for the room which will turn the lights back on for 2 hours.

        4. Mr. Shark

          Okay, well that makes sense. But yeah, I think just having a person who thinks they are last out (or close to last out) just do a quick walk-around to make sure that no one else is still there. We used to do that at my exJob. I was typically last out or second to last out, so I’d just make sure that everyone was gone, and check in the parking lot to see if there were any other cars still there.

    1. Mr. Shark

      That seems strange and seems like overkill. Are they having problems with people leaving early? If so, they should address it that way with the individual person, rather than such a strange requirement for the whole team.

  27. boo bot

    ” imbalances of power can make inconsequential things feel as if they carry messages about how people see you and can underscore how little control you’re afforded. ”

    This is just so beautifully put that I wanted to quote it.

  28. Buttons

    This morning I received the below email responding to an email I sent on Friday. I haven’t replied yet because I am so annoyed.

    “On a different note, I am not sure if this information is already in the instructions as I haven’t opened your attachment yet, but I’d recommend we provide guidance on X”

    What I want to do is screenshot where that guidance is provided in the document I sent on Friday. Don’t tell me I should do something, which I have already done, and given to you when you haven’t even opened it!

    1. MicroManagered

      What’s infuriating about that email (and others like it) is that the person is giving you instruction to do something you already did and telling you they didn’t read it!!!

      I work with someone who will reply to relatively short emails with a question that shows she clearly didn’t read the email.

      From: AnnoyingButt
      Sent: Monday, August 19, 2019
      To: MicroManagered
      Subject: RE: It’s going to rain today

      Hi MicroManagered! Is it going to rain today?

      1. Buttons

        The other thing that really annoys me is the “we” WE aren’t doing anything. I am doing it. This is my job, I make the decision on what the process is, and how the instructions are given. Grrr.

      2. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy

        Hand to god, this email exchange used to happen at least once a month.

        Me: “Good morning! The revisions to form #ABC-8429 are completed and they can be ordered at your convenience by calling the print shop at extension 5-1234.”
        Receipient: “Hi, when will the revisions be completed and how do I order the new version of the form?”

        1. Jennifer Thneed

          I reply to that by copy-pasting my own words from the original email. No softening, no “hi”, nothing else but the words you didn’t read.

    2. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss

      I would be tempted to respond “I’d recommend you read the attachment before making any further recommendations” but that’s probably not a good idea. I’d ignore it – sometimes it’s just not worth it. But I’d be pissed too. I have someone on my team who is constantly questioning things that are on an email chain that had she bothered to read BEFORE she responded wouldn’t have had to ask a question. Sometimes I give her the “Per the email below” and highlight it, and sometimes I just don’t feel like dealing with it.

      1. Buttons

        I won’t be snarky, my boss and the grand boss are also on the email. Complaining about it here made me feel better, so I was able to respond with…
        “Hi, guidance on X is provided in the attached instructions on page 1!”

        Thank you,
        Buttons

    3. Quinalla

      That is obnoxious, but at least they admitted they hadn’t read it I guess? Ugh! I’d probably respond with a “Yes, that is in the document already, thanks!” and maybe add “Once you get a chance to read it, let me know if you have any further comments.” if it was someone I could get away with that.

      My least favorite is when I will send an email with several questions (if more than 2, I number or bullet for sure) and they will answer only one question or maybe the first couple. So aggravating! With some people I call, with some I reply and thank them for what was answered and say I still need 2, 3, 5 & 6 when they have answers.

      1. MAC

        Ugh, this drives me crazy. Or the question is “Do you prefer option A or option B?” and the response is “Yes.”

    4. SheLooksFamiliar

      Argh, I hate that, too. I’ve been known to re-send the document with the appropriate info highlighted, with a note: ‘Um…way ahead of you, see highlighted info in previously sent attachment. Is there a problem opening it?’ A couple of those replies tended to stop the perpetrator.

    5. Workfromhome

      So much this. I almost start punching things when I send an email that says “We have a problem with X I need you to do the following 1. Open X, 2. Check that the first box on x is checked (screenshot attached only to get a call 5 minutes later.”So I got your email about X what is the problem and what do you need me to do? So take the time to call me, waste my time explain things to you but you cant take 2 minutes to read my freaking emaiul past the first line?

    6. Close Bracket

      Someone did this to me, I replied back with “Did you check the attachment?”, and they sent an email to our lead about how I was being unhelpful. M*****f*****

    7. A

      On a different note, I am not sure if this information is relevant because I haven’t read your comment yet, but I think we should encourage people to read attachments prior to responding to emails!

    8. Bagpuss

      I have clients who do this

      I had an exchange of emails with a client the other week.
      It started with them saying they had heard they had to be in court and why hadn’t I told them.
      So I replied and confirmed that I had, in fact told them, attached copies of the 2 separate letters (one of which they had previously replied to) and the previous email explaining it all. Including detail of exactly which court, where it is in town, the closest parking and how to check in when you arrive).
      In that email I also included in the body of the email details of the time, place etc.

      I then got a reply to that email asking me which court it was and what time they needed to be there .

      And then asked for a further copy of the original letter. Which was attached to the email they were replying to.

      I also had 5 separate calls from the same client’s mother, who doesn’t seem able to grasp that as we have not got authority from her son to do so, we can’t, and won’t discuss his case with her. Even if she is worried.

    9. PollyQ

      “I am not sure if this email is just annoying blather as I haven’t read it yet, but for future interactions, I’d recommend you read a document before providing feedback on it.”

    10. Peeved Analyst

      LOL! I like to use “Per my last email” or “Like I said in our last meeting”, passive aggressive as hell, but that is how you deal with ninny’s. XD

  29. Dzhymm

    My workplace is pretty chill; my biggest annoyance is on the way there. There are some subway buskers that just Drive. Me. Up. The. Wall. Not only are they there every day, but they only have about five songs in their repertoire that they repeat over. and. over. again. There was this one guy who got there at the same time every morning playing tunes on a Chinese fiddle. The first time he played a version of “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” on it I thought it was cute and quirky. The 50th time I heard it though, I was praying for the train to hurry up and deliver me from the madness… fortunately he moved on after a couple months.

    1. Manders

      I once worked in a building where the managers let a guy play a very, very bad version of Radioactive by Imagine Dragons on the piano in the lobby every. single. day. It wasn’t so bad if you were just passing through quickly on your way to someone’s office, but if that was your only spot to eat lunch in the winter? Torture.

      1. Dzhymm

        To be fair, some of them are quite pleasant. Another day there was a guy playing jazz sax and doing a pretty good job of it. I don’t *quite* have perfect pitch, but I have a pretty good ear and hearing someone actually playing in tune was like a breath of fresh air. I left him a very nice tip.

    2. UKDancer

      I can relate. Coming through the underground station I have to walk past a busker whose repertoire consists of “No Woman no cry” and “One Love.” I feel like suggesting he learn some other songs. I prefer the days when there’s a violinist in the busking spot at the underground station. She’s much better and more varied.

      1. Ponytail

        I’ve been going through one tube station where the harpist plays the Titanic theme tune every f-ing day. For five years, he’s there at least three times a week. Once a month or so, he might do a few bars for Scarborough Fair but it’s basically been Titanic over and over, hundreds of times.

        1. SageMercurius

          Wow, we must work near each other, because I’ve walked past Titanic guy as well! He plays it far higher than Celine would sing it too!

          Normally, I don’t mind buskers, but when you work in a nearby office and have to hear it all day every day, it does get grating.

      2. londonedit

        The station nearest where I work has a piano for people to play. This is generally quite lovely and most people do a wonderful job, but I really do feel like they should instigate a ‘piano playing only; no need to accompany yourself by singing’ rule.

  30. MicroManagered

    In roughly 28 minutes, the woman in the cubicle next to me will let out a long, loud, drawn-out yawn. She will then do that roughly once a minute, in sporadic 15-minute increments, until the end of the day.

    1. Paralegal Part Deux

      I have a friend that had a coworker that would, at random, start meowing like a cat and would do that all. day. long.

        1. Paralegal Part Deux

          If anyone did ask, my friend never told me. She said it’d be dead quiet and, just out nowhere for no apparent reason, this meowing would start. From what I remember, it was loud and prolonged. I think management was scared of her to tell her to knock it off.

      1. SheLooksFamiliar

        I work with someone who never blows his nose. Ever. He snorts back, well, whatever it is he is loathe to expel, every 30 seconds. If I didn’t have headphones at work, I might cause him major harm.

  31. Duck Duck Goosen

    My work pet peeve is people grabbing my papers from the printer. I sit closest to the printer and I know people think they’re doing me a favor by grabbing my stuff as well but I’m usually batch printing things that have to remain in a particular order to match up with the stack on my desk.

    I grab my papers as soon as I’m done (anywhere from 1-10 minutes depending on how big the batch is), but when people bring me my papers it means I have to have ANOTHER stack of paper on my desk (I keep my desk clear except for the task at hand!) as well spending an extra 15 or so minutes of my time making sure that nothing got shuffled or out of order.

    It sends me into a blind rage sometimes and I know it’s irrational but GOD

    1. Red Reader the Adulting Fairy

      uggggg. Not irrational at all. I don’t suppose you are using a big feature-rich printer that has “hold print” as an option so that you have to go over there and manually release your prints when you’re ready to get them? :(

      1. Ponytail

        We call it follow-me printing – I can send a job to the printer queue and then pick it up hours, or days later, at any of the hundreds of printers on my campus. I can even send documents from my phone – it’s a bloody godsend.

      2. Duck Duck Goosen

        I wish. Our printer is notoriously the worst thing in our office and upper management just won’t justify the cost of replacing it or leasing a new one until this one completely dies (guess who, by being young and also the closest person to the printer, has been unofficially designated the Printer Repair Girl)

    2. Seeking Second Childhood

      Oh I feel you on that one. I was one of the people who was actually happy when we went to a badge-swipe system for our documents. My last straw was some person or people who would pull out the SINGLE JOB in progress to see if it was theirs, and put it back upside down. And my projects were stapled.
      Might be worth seeing if there’s a security lock that can let your jobs all run at once when you walk over there.

    3. Liz

      I have a similar issue but with one particular CW. We print to copiers, so about half of our floor prints there. And our system is set up so a cover sheet prints out with everyone’s job.

      I sometimes print things but then get distracted by another task, call, etc. so I’m not always running to pick up my stuff ASAP. This one CW feels the need to bring my print jobs to me, with a loud sigh, like I’ve somehow inconvenienced HIM by not picking it up as soon as it prints. And there’s a metal slotted thingy there where you put print jobs that are not your own, to be picked up by the person who printed them! So its not like he has to do anything except sort his from everyone else’s (as we all do) and he’s actually making extra work for himself as he has to come over by me to give them to me!

    4. Construction Safety

      It’s all fun and games until the nitwit CFO leaves a complete list of names & salaries on the printer.

      1. Duck Duck Goosen

        Normally I’d agree with that, but I’m literally printing one page at a time. If I was printing one document with a ton of pages, I’d stay by the printer but I have to manually print individual pages (I work in construction and manage purchasing and receiving – there is no way to batch receive in our system, I have to do it individually and therefore print individually).

        1. A Bug!

          Do you have a Print to PDF installed in your printer devices, or can you get the feature added? Then you could have your print jobs print to PDF, and then combine them all into one document when you have all the pages you need, and print that. One print job, guaranteed correct page order.

          While I can certainly understand your frustration I can also imagine that it’s likely very frustrating for your coworkers, too, who would seem to have no way of knowing when it is or is not safe to send a print job.

    5. LQ

      Ooo them’s fighting words. I’m so glad we now have to badge to print all our stuff. No more someone printing a thousand pages and my one little page is in the middle of their stuff and then they are mad at me because they weren’t their to get their thousand pages.

      1. Amethystmoon

        Yep, we badge print stuff but sometimes, people have to print reports out of the mainframe and those are not done by badge, so it will occasionally still happen. Only the Windows stuff is.

    6. The Other Dawn

      Can you just announce to everyone within earshot, or send email, to hold off on printing for X minutes because you have to run a large print job?

    7. Formerly in HR

      Our MFC printer has an option to set Locked printing. This is done through the Control Panel and you enter your LAN ID and set a password/ PIN code. Then pretty much everything you print will not spit out until you actually walk to the printer, press on Printer Jobs, select one or more of your prints and enter your password. This sometimes fail with documents sent by external vendors, where the default is unlocked printing (but you can still check and change it before clicking the Print button).

  32. Christmas Carol

    “There are no such things as problems, only opportunities!” No, my need for a root canal is not an opportunity, unless you are my dentist’s daughter who is nagging her father for an upgrade to her phone.

    1. This Daydreamer

      I work in a domestic violence shelter. You’ve just added to my repertoire of “things clueless people say that clients and I can laugh about.”

    2. Kelly L.

      I once knew someone who took this to the extent of calling a mistake an “opportunity.” Like if she was pointing out your typo, she’d say there was an opportunity in paragraph 3.

    3. PlainJane

      Yeah, this is right up there with, “Everything happens for a reason,” and “God doesn’t give us more than we can handle.” Apparently these people never knew someone with incurable cancer, a dead child, chronic pain, or any of a zillion other awful life experiences. So rage-inducing.

    4. Life is Good

      Right! What kind of bullshit jargon is that? Usually means that it sucks and we know it, but if we say this clever line then it makes everything work out.

  33. anon4this

    I think it’s funny to post this right after a letter of minor trivial workplace issues, that amounted to like 4 instances of “someone trying to be too helpful” in an entire school year.
    I also think it’s funny to call all this “littlest”, when it’s more like “pettiest”.

  34. Nanani

    People who reply to time-sensitive but not urgent questions with “I’ll get back to you”… and then don’t get back to you.

    Bonus points when that same person emphasizes how much they want you to check with them on certain matters but NEVER actually have a response for you when you do.

    1. The Beagle has Landed

      Or people who reply to an ask with “will do” and then never tell you when it was done so you have to ask again.

  35. Marley

    We have a new employee in Cube Land today. If she doesn’t catch it herself, I’ll ask her politely to turn off the sound on her laptop. Nobody needs to hear a ding every time she gets an email. Nobody.

    1. Fabulous

      I have gone so far as to hop onto people’s computers or phones when they’ve left their desk to turn down their volume. It can easily get obscene in an open office plan… No one needs it at full blast.

    2. London Calling

      Had to move seats on the tube the other day because of someone who had her laptop doing this. Ditto for mobile phones when someone gets a text. It’s a 50 minute journey, I don’t need to hear the notification messages every 90 seconds.

    3. Mr. Shark

      Yes! I don’t understand why people keep their sound on. If they are not at their desk, they don’t need the sound notifications. If they are at their desk, they don’t need it either, because e-mail will flash on your screen and messages will flash on your screen as well.

  36. ACDC

    Can we all agree that flossing at your desk after lunch is a big fat no in every office? Could we all tell me office mate that too?

    ***willing to hear opposing arguments of why this is not weird/annoying/pick-your-favorite-adjective

    1. mildly disgruntled

      It’s right up there with clipping fingernails in the office. Absolutely disgusting. One time I walked into one of our warehouse areas, and an employee walked by brushing his teeth. I almost threw up….something about the smell and the sound and the act of doing that outside of the normal bathroom space was just too much.

    2. Quinalla

      That is weird, is there no bathroom close by? Otherwise, I don’t get it. When I need to brush my teeth or floss at work I go in the bathroom!

    3. Goose Lavel

      Worse is when you’re washing your hands at the bathroom sink and co-worker comes in, closes one nostril with a finger and loudly blows the contents of his nose into the sink, then repeats the same with the other nostril and then walks out.
      Happens to me at least twice a month and I imagine everyone else in the office gets to enjoy it as well.

    4. Llama Face!

      That choking sound you hear is me trying to stifle the scream of sheer horror and incoherent rage at the thought of flossing in the office.
      Nononononononononononooooo

    5. A

      I floss after every meal, and do so in the restroom at work (preferably a stall if available – if not then discreetly in the corner of shame). One day… ONE in my ENTIRE career… I didn’t have time to run to the restroom before a critical meeting and felt like I had something inbetween my front two teeth. I took out a tiny piece of floss, was about to take care of it…..and my boss comes around the corner.

      It was a very, very awkward three seconds and we have never spoken about it. Never again!

    6. Amethystmoon

      Generally, that is the sort of thing that should be done at home, before you leave in the morning.

      1. pentamom

        Depending on some dental issues you may need to do it after every meal. But that’s what the restrooms are for.

  37. Bostonian

    Then there are people who are offended if co-workers don’t greet them in the morning … as well as people who are annoyed about being interrupted if they are greeted. They often work in the same offices together, where they irritate the hell out of each other

    Hahahahaha just goes to show everyone’s definition of “rude” and “polite” is a little different.

    1. Former Young Lady

      And naturally mine is the correct one. :) Seriously, though, I think a lot of this comes down to self-awareness. If you pass someone in the hallway and they wave and smile, and you pointedly scowl back, that’s pretty rude. If you go out of your way to lean into people’s cubicles and startle them out of concentration with a “GOOD MORNING!”, that’s not very thoughtful either.

      When I’m walking past front-facing desks, I’ll greet those who are looking up and I’ll refrain from pestering those who are obviously in the middle of something.

      We have a consultant who pokes his head in my office door just to say hello and goodbye every day, but also to follow up immediately on every email exchange, and also to ask if “everything’s OK” at random intervals. I’m sure someone somewhere taught him that this was a great way to be “memorable” and “friendly.” It’s overkill. I feel like I’m playing whack-a-mole without a mallet.

    2. She's One Crazy Diamond

      My workplace makes us do this personality test with our team called “True Colors” and the facilitator explained that “Blue” people are relationship-oriented and “Green” people are task-oriented. So she was explaining that if the Blue and Green in question are not self-aware, the Blue rolls into work humming cheerfully and pops by Green’s cubicle to ask them about their weekend. Green gives one word answers, and then Blue rambles on about all the errands they ran with their kids. Green is desperately wishing Blue would go away and leave them alone, and Blue is offended that Green doesn’t care about them.

  38. Fluff

    Reply all with instructions not to reply all. Solution: blind copy is birth control to the reply all bunnies. Now if that only worked with texting.

    The folks who have to have a meeting for any question. (boss). Just a simple answer like, yep we are meeting at 2P on Friday instead is “let’s meet this afternoon to discuss the meeting timing.” Or…let’s bring in this person who has nothing to do with it to meet to discuss our yes or no answer. Never mind, I’ll spend 2 hours to a day to figure it out on my own.

    The phantom smelly trash leaver. As in ‘this is toxic nuclear waste and I’m putting it in your office trash instead of mine,’ evil laughter. I don’t know who they are that sick genius, but they visit my office to deposit their lunch or whatever smelly fish trash to diaper (armageddon). I come back from a meeting and OMG. Solution: requesting lock and hiding trash. Never thought I’d have to lock it up for a meeting though.

    the 10-15 minute microwave user. I. will. kill. you. Cook it at home, heat it up here. What are they eating, frozen Tundra mammoth?

    1. Quinalla

      Ugh, the phantom smelly trash leaver, that would get me.

      And microwaving for 10-15 minutes! Unless you have a personal microwave, no, that’s silly!

    2. Delta Delta

      I have a solution! Get a TINY desktop trash bin with a lid and empty it every day into a bigger bin. Someone might throw garbage in your big bin because it’s big or because of its location. But tiny, closed, and on your desk seems very intimate and would probably discourage the person. Then take note of whoever mentions it. That’s your likely culprit.

    3. Aquawoman

      I hate the reply-all response but what makes me even more irate is the 12 ensuing reply-all messages saying “please don’t reply-all.” Not replying-all begins at home.

  39. Jennifer

    I think Alison is right. Work can be similar to high school in the sense that there are a bunch of people who probably would never have chosen to spend time with one another otherwise, from wildly varied backgrounds, forced work with each other. If someone is already rubbing you the wrong way, the fact that they high five you after every interaction may start to make you disproportionately irritated. If a friend did it, you might just consider it a funny quirk and laugh it off.

  40. (Mr.) Cajun2core

    I guess I am a super-chilled person. Very little annoys me. Someone has to pretty much purposely irritate me to irritate me. So I am surprised by the number of things that annoy people.

    However, the one thing that does get to me, is someone not respecting me or my work. Being a senior person but being given all of the less desirable tasks. Being placed in an off-site location because I don’t dress GQ enough for you. Even though I was receptionist previously not having the main line ring on my phone (for when the receptionist is away from her desk) and having it ring on some else’s phone who has only been here a few months.

    Taking tasks away from me because I follow the rules* and would bring up things that are against the law. *We are a state agency with very strict spending policies.

    Saying you are open to ideas but rejecting them all.

  41. Jamie

    Good timing, I needed the reminder to chill.

    I am currently listening to someone I otherwise like loudly eat a sandwhich in the slurpiest way possible and I’m already ragey. The as of yet unopened chip bag is taunting me…he will take 45 minutes to finish said chips and each one will be eaten with his mouth wide open.

    I get it that my misophonia is my problem, but it’s sure as hell not helped by the fact that no one in his formative years taught him how to eat properly.

    I hate myself for not going into a line of work I could do from home.

    I physically hate everything about him whilst he’s eating.

    1. Imaginary Number

      I have a coworker whose lunch usually consists of soup and an apple. The soup he eats while it’s way to hot and he uses the most obnoxious, whistling slurp-slurps that drive me nuts. Then he eats the apple extreeeeeemely slow as if he thinks eating apples slowly makes them less noisy.

      1. Jamie

        Yes! Idk why they think slow is better…if you’re going to be gross then at least don’t prolong it.

          1. Jamie

            If other people can hear you chew yes, many find it gross.

            People still have a right to eat it, but it shouldn’t be a surprise that many people find the sound of others chewing less than pleasant.

    2. The Beagle has Landed

      My next door neighbor is a chronic gum popper. I have (mostly) made my peace with her choice of background music (soft rock / R&B) on all the time even when she leaves for the day (or the week – she is out this week and it’s on now). But the gum popping… nope. Waiting for her to retire or find another job while trying to reframe my growing irritation.

      1. Repulsive, Revolting, and Wrong

        I am a pack-a-day gum-chewer and do my best to chew silently with my mouth closed because I hate hearing other people’s mouthsounds… but sometimes I catch myself popping and gnawing when I’m stressed and distracted. I’m sorry, and I hate it as much as you do, I promise!

  42. Lucy Preston

    The guy who takes his calls on speaker phone does so because using the handset clashes with his hearing aid (too much feedback). Still annoying, but then again it helps keep you up to date in case he forgets to give you status updates.

    Otherwise, I think biggest peeve is the person who didn’t have time to groom the llamas, but did have time to talk to about the local sports teams and what everyone on the floor did over the weekend.

  43. Imaginary Number

    Showing up late to a meeting and then stopping the presentation because something doesn’t make sense (because you missed the slides that put everything in context.)

  44. (Mr.) Cajun2core

    I did think of a couple of more things. I guess more things annoy me than I thought and I am not as chilled as I thought I was…

    Sending an email which ends with, “Which option do you prefer, A, B, or C”.
    Getting a response of “Yes” or addressing other things in the email and not answering your question.

    Sending an email at 10:45 saying that I need this by 11:00. Even worse, if I reply to the email with a question about the task and all I get is dead silence.

    1. Former Young Lady

      Ugh, the yes/no response to a multiple-choice question is the WORST.

      See also, asking “What do you need me to do?” and getting a reply that consists of “K, thanx”

    2. Turquoisecow

      A frequent occurrence. I send an email that basically says:

      I have three questions:
      A.
      B.
      C.

      The person writes back:
      Answer to A, but only half-assed.

      THANKS!

  45. Goya de la Mancha

    Oh the things I get peeved about ;) It also becomes a snowball effect. Bob is an annoying co-worker to begin with, if Bob starts loudly sighing frequently throughout the day, I might start picturing my future jail cell instead of rolling my eyes and moving on like I should.

    These are the ones that seem to get me no matter who does it:
    *Calling to ask for a bundle of information and then putting me on “hold” while you find a paper and pen.
    *Calling to tell me you just sent me an email, and then proceed to explain to me what information said email contains.
    *Handing me a form/paper and then reading to me what the form/paper says….Basic reading was a requirement of the job when I was hired. I passed that test, thanks.

    1. Myrcallie

      ‘Basic reading was a requirement of the job when I was hired. I passed that test, thanks.’

      To be fair, going by the number of people at my office who can’t understand basic emails, it’s not as universal as you’d expect!

    1. Buttons

      Worse, not canceling the 8 am meeting until 7:00 pm the night before. I work from home, but specifically went into the office on that day because I wanted to attend that meeting in person. It is so inconsiderate!

      1. Turquoisecow

        Or not cancelling at all, just not showing up.

        I have a recurring meeting on Friday mornings at 8:45. I work from home and live about an hour away. I’ve gotten into the habit of texting my boss the day before to ask if we’re having the meeting because there have been cases where the VP has cancelled it at 8:30. Or I’ve called in to the meeting and sat in silence for ten minutes before giving up because the meeting was cancelled and no one told me.

        I don’t need a long letter. Just a quick one that says “meeting cancelled.” Everyone has their email on their phones so I don’t see why that’s so hard!

      2. Texan in Exile aka golddigger

        New boss cancelled 6:00 a.m. meeting at 10:15 p.m. the night before, which would have been fine if I checked my email at 10:15 p.m. but I do not.

    2. Workfromhome

      Not considering that I am in the Atlantic time zone which means when you send me an invite for 4-5 your time that you really want me to work from 5-6 (especially on a Friday)

      1. Mr. Shark

        The other way is also true. I get meetings all the time for 8:00 Eastern, which is 5 in the morning for me. Uh, I’m not even up, much less getting on a conference call at that time.

    3. Myrcallie

      Yes! Also, not sending in stuff related to the meeting until the last minute. I chair a 9am meeting every week, and there was one person who’d always send her contributions in either late the night before, or first thing the morning of (and by contributions I mean significant, agenda-reordering stuff). I eventually had to sic my manager on her, because I was having to come in increasingly early just to finalise her stuff and get it all added.

      1. Workfromhome

        OH yes! When you have a meeting scheduled 2 weeks ahead for 10 am and at 9 am that day you get a follow up email with a bunch of documents. Then the first thing you hear on the call “So have everyone had change to review the documents I sent for this meeting?” Hell no I haven’t but if you had sent them anytime in the last 2 weeks I would. Now we can waste 90% of the meeting reviewing the documents instead of actually doing anything.

  46. SomebodyElse

    This is timely…

    Apparently I’m spending too much time in the office (I’m usually a traveler) and the following is about to snap my last nerve.

    Apparently bathroom soap is hard to maintain. As in having some on hand for people to use. Really strange since the person that orders it uses the same bathroom I do that is often without soap. Last week I had to ask her to order some. She will buy one small home style bottle of liquid hand soap at a time. Seriously… order more… It doesn’t go bad!

    Lights… I must work with mole people. I got a shocked look when I asked for the landlord to be called to fix one of my overhead lights. Again last week, I had to ask for the LL to be contacted to fix the hall lights, because they are all out! Half the people here sit in dark offices. Yeah ok in the summer, but jeez in the winter they do it too. Like dark offices not just dim ones.

    And back to the bathroom. We have the dumbest toilet in the world. It’s just shy of an ‘inspection’ toilet design, meaning that the bowl is elongated and shallow at the front. So at least 4 times a week I go in to find someone elses TP wadded up and stuck to the side of the bowl (on the inside). GROSSSS!!!! C’mon ladies… give it a glance, knock it in with the plunger, and flush again.

    Whew… that was cathartic.

  47. sofar

    People who send you a Slack message with “Hi!” Or “Hi! How are you?” And that’s it.

    Like, I know you’re not just making small talk. You are going to transition to asking me for something. That is fine. It is my job to complete certain tasks. So just ask me for it.

    I will straight-up ignore those Slack messages until they spit out what they want.

    1. Former Young Lady

      Word. I haaaaate the un-followed-up ambiguous-greeting IM. “I need a favor. I’m going to make you do all the work of the conversation. That isn’t even the favor. Wanna know what the favor is? You must have the other half of this amulet…”

      1. sofar

        *insert cryptic smiley face emoji to hint that this is a really big favor that you must drag out of me by responding with pleasantries*

      2. Repulsive, Revolting, and Wrong

        I hate hate hate being asked “Can you do me a favor?”

        JUST ASK FOR WHAT YOU NEED UP FRONT, FFS

    2. Fabulous

      That annoys me to no end too. I usually try not to respond with the hopes that they finally break down and send me whatever question it is they have.

    3. Serin

      That’s part of the culture here, and I hate it. It’s not uncommon for people to send a “hi” and then not say anything else until I reply, as if the instant message window were a phone they have to wait for me to answer.

      But it’s viewed as rude to just jump into the message, here.

      I compromise by beginning with “Hi! Question about X:”

    4. Zoey

      Do you ever have the problem of not being able to reply? We always send a ‘hi’ just to see if it is okay to communicate. If you have someone at your desk, presenting your desktop, etc where it would be bad to send something that could be seen by someone who shouldn’t see it wouldn’t you want confirmation that it is okay to discuss a topic? Ie we have govt contracts and non- govt contracts. If a not approved for Govt work person were at a govt work person’s desk talking about a work project and another govt work person asked a question about something the non govt person shouldn’t know about, it wouldn’t be good.

      1. sofar

        Those situations are admittedly rare at my company, and I can see having special protocols/norms for confidentiality issues.

        As for me, if I’m presenting my screen, I mute my Slack notifications during that time.

      2. Amethystmoon

        I like our workplace IM, which automatically tells you if someone is in a meeting or presenting. We use Jabber.

    5. Muse of Ire

      I do that to make sure the recipient is there and responsive. I’m not going to bang out two paragraphs of specifics only to get back, “sorry. I’m on deadline here, catch me later.”

      1. techRando

        Why are those two paragraphs of specifics not re-useable? If you have a question, can’t they be grabbed and given to someone else who CAN respond? Or saved and asked again later when someone CAN respond? Or copied into a ticket that you log?

        IM is an asynchronous way to communicate. I can be in the bathroom when you ask your question, get back 5 minutes later and get you an answer faster. I’m gonna plug http://www.nohello.com/ now because that goes more into it, but I think it’s a good way to think about IM.

      2. sofar

        See, if I’m truly busy, I’d rather get a few paragraphs of exactly what the eff someone wants so I can triage properly, rather than a cryptic “Hi” and a smiley emoji. Heck, I’m fine with a, “Hey, are you available? Got a question about XYZ.”

    6. HalloweenCat

      I have a coworker who starts every internal phone call with a “hi how are you” back and forth. They will do this no matter how many times they’ve already called me that day. they are in a customer service call center. The only reason they are ever calling me is for some time-sensitive question while a customer is on hold. I ALWAYS have to ask why they are calling for them to get on with it.

    7. Amber

      Heh, I commented something similar down below. When they write “Hey Amber” and just wait. JUST SAY WHAT YOU WANT FOR CRYING OUT LOUD.

      1. Mr. Shark

        Yes, this Amber, so much!

        Or, they say, “Hi, I have a question.” and then just stop typing. So I reply, “hi.” But nothing. Not until I finally say, “what’s the question” do they actually give me the question.

        Or they say, “Hi, can you talk? I can come to your desk.” Yes, but tell me what we’re going to talk about. I can prepare myself and start looking things up before you get to my desk if I know the subject.

        I’d much prefer:
        “Hi, I have a quick question about Llama grooming method B.”

        IF I DON’T HAVE TIME, I’LL LET YOU KNOW, otherwise just tell me the question!

    8. Peeved Analyst

      Oh god! My Boss does this and it drives me CRAZY! Especially since the majority of the time they just IM “Hi”, and that’s it, I don’t hear the rest of the reply until over 20 minutes later. And it is almost ALWAYS a request for something. So I feel like I have to be chained to my desk until they reply with the actual request! -_- Just send me the whole request at once, what are you waiting for?!

  48. AnotherJD

    I get super annoyed when our office supply person asks what I want, I send the link, then get the wrong item. Yes, I want Pilot blue pens, but I want these specific V7 ones in the link I sent AND NO OTHER PEN WILL DO. I will drive to Staples and spend my own money before changing pens. Click the damned link already.

    1. Fabulous

      While annoying, I can sort of understand if the company will only fund X pens instead of the Y pens you’re requesting. Being in charge of purchasing sucks, especially if you have a nick-and-dime company.

      1. Lucy Preston

        Company only supplies the cheap ballpoints. I buy my own Pilots. What’s annoying is when someone from said company takes the pens (by accident of course) that I paid for out of pocket.

      2. AnotherJD

        The company will pay for the pens I want, which is why this is the hill I’m willing to die on.

  49. Fabulous

    CLEAR OUT YOUR TIME ON THE MICROWAVE WHEN YOU’RE DONE
    MY GOD
    NO ONE WILL EVER USE THE REMAINING 12 SECONDS.
    JUST. HIT. CLEAR.
    [end rant]

    1. Former Young Lady

      Hahaha, thank you! That has always driven me barmy.

      “But it will beep less if I don’t run down the clock.”

      Fine, stop it early and hit clear. I’ll have to do it anyway next time. The net beeps will be the same.

    2. Serin

      A sign to this effect went up on all my office microwaves one day, and was gone by next morning, so I feel sure there was drama, but I missed all but its footprints.

    3. techRando

      A lot of people in my office don’t close the microwave doors quiiiiite enough to get the light turned off and it drives me bonkers every time I see it. It’s not hard! How do you miss that the light’s still on!

    4. Llama Face!

      I was just asking someone the other day if they also hated that with fiery passion!
      But I’m also the person who has to clear any social media notifications and empty the electronic trash can regularly because the visual clutter makes me stressed.

    5. Jennifer Thneed

      I use ’em. I do! I hit “Start” and then add 30 seconds or 1 minute or whatever the “just a little more” button gives me. Why? Because it’s easier that way. OBVS!

      (I think maybe it’s fewer beeps? And I really dislike the beeps.)

      1. Carlie

        It’s the beeps.
        I take it out early to avoid the beep. Clearing the time would create another beep, destroying the purpose of taking it out early.
        Somehow an extra beep at the beginning of a new beep sequence (when adding time) seems less annoying than a single beep at the end, even if it’s the same net beeps.
        I do this all the time at home – I try not to do it at work, but sometimes I’m on auto-pilot. I’ll go sit in the corner.

  50. DCGirl

    Interestingly, I just got a company-wide “gentle reminder” for people to not store open containers of food at their desks and to not leave dirty dishes on their desks. The reason is that I, and a number of other employees who keep our desks clean and food-free, have reported roaches. I didn’t want a gentle reminder to the whole company — I wanted one of the managers to deal with a couple of slobs on his team.

    1. !

      I have to agree with this as a pet peeve of mine, making blanket statements about something that ONLY pertain to a select FEW or ONE individual! My manager does this during almost every meeting we have. I hate, hate, hate sitting in a meeting where she’s taking all of us to task about something when it’s just ONE person who is not pulling their weight or following procedure. I literally scream inside my head so I don’t have to hear her.

      1. Jamie

        Totally agree. I once sat through an office wide berating, complete with rage spittle and name calling, because someone didn’t replace the paper towels in the dispenser in the men’s room and merely left new roll on the sink.

        Didn’t matter even a little that some of us have never had a reason to enter the men’s room much less stock it for supplies.

        My take away is that anyone who is humiliated by the fact that a customer saw a roll of paper towels outside of its dispenser needs to learn what real problems look like.

  51. xxx9

    people who don’t respect or clean up shared spaces. as i type there is a singular fork on top of our “shred-it box” – we do not have a kitchen on this floor and there are only two offices near it, mine and this other guy whose innocent is presumed based on precious experience and shared hate of said soon.

    i’ll cave and pick it up soon, i just know, but WHY does this keep happening? last time someone left a dirty bowl there for over three months before i washed and cleaned it. your office can be a pig sty, that’s your space, but the hallway is not.

    1. Transitioning-ish

      Our office posted a sign in the break-room for when the periodic Fridge Cleanouts would happen, with volunteers signing up to do said cleaning. Anything not labeled would be tossed. Perhaps something similar could help, at least as a “Hey, we warned you” CYA, for abandoned items in unfortunate places.

      My actual secret desire would be to pitch said items in the appropriate bin.

      Either way, I would NOT clean other people’s dirty items if it’s not in my job description. Screw that. It just teaches people that “somebody” will do it for them.

      1. anon for this

        Our facilities team cleans out the fridges at 8am every Friday. An email goes out Thursday around lunch time reminding you to take stuff home or it will thrown out. They throw out everything left behind: condiments, tupperware, frozen meals, everything.

        1. Tisiphone

          The last Friday of the month is our fridge clean-out day. The time frame is most of second shift. Those of us on second shift usually have no idea when it’s safe to put away leftovers.

    2. Myrcallie

      We get people just straight up making off with cutlery. I replaced all the stuff in our office kitchen last week (eight sets of knives, forks and spoons), and already we’re down to two forks, four knives and no spoons.

  52. Rexish

    I get way over the top annoyed with the stupid instructional stickers someone in our puts into things. Our microwave says “Attention! Don’t use the microvawe empty” and the bathroom door says “Close the bathroom door” (It gradually opens). We are adults and I don’t see these as necessary. Nobody will use the microwave empty on purpose or leave the bathroom open. I’m getting hives jsut thinking about it. I’m planning on putting stickker on teh sticker maschine that says “Attention! Don’t waste the stickers”

    1. Serin

      The spouse likes to say, “Every sign tells a story.” I’m almost certain that if there’s a sign telling people not to use the microwave empty, that means someone has been doing that. (“But I have to preheat!”)

      There’s a sign on our sink that says, “Do not take hardware from this sink.” But there’s no basket in the sink, so the sign didn’t work.

      1. Rexish

        I’m pretty sure that the sticker has appeared afer we got a new microwave and unlike the old one it would continue once you took your food out unless you presed clear. Someone had left it by accident since it had never been an issue before. We have a small office and eveeryone is in the kichen around the same time and appeared on the first day the new microwave appeared.

        I understand that there are stories with the signs. But some could just be covered with one reminder in a meeting. But oh well. It still annoys me. Everytime a new sticker appears I feel like just takign teh machine and making new ones to whatever I can think off. Most signs are things that people do everyday and has never ever been a problem. Then you forget once and there is a sign.

        1. techRando

          Okay, that seems like a weird microwave function to me. Weird enough that a sign does make sense… but an explanatory sign, not “Attention! Don’t use the microwave empty”.

          Like “This microwave auto continues any time left when the door closes. Please clear your leftover time.”

          It sounds like a similar issue for the bathroom door- a sign like “This door will drift open unless you close it until you hear a click” would be better than “Attention! Close the bathroom door!”

          If your office is small enough, maybe that can be covered in a meeting. But if you have even over 10 or so people, a sign reminding people about quirks like that can be good. I can easily go a couple weeks without using the work microwaves.

          1. Rexish

            There is no way that anyone can make me find it not annoying when people add regular adulting notes :D

            I guess they key that grinds me is that the signs are added before it is a repeated problem. Mention something in a meeting if still a large group of people does something that is not appropriate then add a note (and think if the note actually makes a difference). But if it happens rarely and likely by accident. Don’t add them.
            I guess for me it is about unnecessarily trying to control adults. Similarly whenever someone in this site asks about adding something in the emplloyee handbook. Unnecessary rules that makes no diference just grinds me the wrong way. Let’s not forget the reminder to wash hands!

    2. Asenath

      Well, there are two bathrooms near our facility with large signs about how you can be sure the door is locked – which isn’t entirely intuitive; the system is a special one intended to be easy for disabled people to use but there’s no “click” if you do it properly and there’s a slightly odd use of red and green lights. That seemed reasonable to me since they are individual rooms opening directly onto a very busy lobby, and there’s a good chance that some of the many, many people who aren’t familiar with the system’s quirks could end up inadvertently exposing themselves.

      But a great many warning notes are a waste of notepaper.

  53. Delta Delta

    I don’t understand people who can’t be on time. I’m an attorney and I go to court a lot. So much time gets wasted because people just can’t be bothered to get there on time. I am often in court around the time of one other particular lawyer who is regularly 15 minutes late. That throws off everyone else’s day. If my hearing is at 10, I am there ahead of 10 because it starts at 10. It’s not, “I’m 10 minutes out and I still need to find parking.” So irritating. Because it is EVERY TIME.

    1. LCL

      Here, we suspect lateness is sometimes a control thing. If someone from headquarters calls a meeting, and people from the remote areas have to drive in to headquarters to attend it, if anyone is late it will be the people whose office is at the headquarters. They are already there. They have to take an elevator to the room. It’s not hard. Grrr.

  54. Workfromhome

    My pet peeve (pretty much every job in the last 20 plus years. Don’t leave me a message or send me an email) that says “hey can you please give me a call” with no context. If its private or sensitive then say that or its something we really need to talk about. Nothing I hate more that playing phone tag to get you on the phone, having to sit through a 20 minute explanation of your issue only to find out that I don’t handle that type of thing or that your complaint about the process for grooming Ilam #2435 requires me to go digging in the files to see what happened and then call you back to discuss yet again.

    All you need to do is leave me a message that says “He can you call me about Ilam #2435 and the grooming products used Or better yet email me). ” I might be able to say hey Roy handsels this I’ll have him look into it and call you or say OK let me go find the file and review it and then give you a call.

    If you cant take 5minutes to give me some information to help me get what you want I cant properly prioritize your issue and might take a really long time to get back to you.

    1. Darkened Meadow

      Or you leave a very detailed voicemail messsage and they don’t listen to it. Then they call and ask what you wanted, so you have to repeat everything.

  55. Goose Lavel

    Is it me or do other people feel like they’re being treated like a child with reminders taped to the bathroom mirror to wash your hands, to be sure to put the paper towels in the trash and not to flush paper towels down the toilet?

    1. On a Break

      I look at it as just a part of how everyone is from different backgrounds. One person’s “This should be obvious hygiene” is another person’s “I was never taught this until this moment.” Even if it seems like it should be common sense. You never know.

    2. T. Boone Pickens

      Could be a health code thing. I typically see those signs at fast food restaurants, hospitals and gas stations.

    3. Myrcallie

      I mean, wasn’t there that big Twitter furore a while ago about a woman who tweeted about being gently reminded by a colleague to wash her hands, and she was all mad because “I was going to later!!!”? Clearly some people need the reminder (whether or not they’ll take it is another question).

  56. Senatormeathooks

    It doesn’t exactly ENRAGE me when someone leaves a paper on my chair, but I will admit that I dislike it solely because, well, papers don’t belong on chairs.

    Also I rarely need to urgently address an analog document in my job scope.

  57. Imaginary Number

    Using the bathroom as your personal meeting space/having a cell phone conversation in the bathroom.

    1. Former Young Lady

      I’ve been known to time my flush at what sounds like a pivotal moment in their conversation.

    2. I coulda been a lawyer

      I was verbally (and close to physically) attacked because I flushed during someone’s job interview. And it was a public restroom! Can you imagine being that poor hiring manager? And they attacked me while still on the call!! “You stitch! You gonna cost me this job flushing during my interview. Were you born in a plucking barn?!”

    3. Windchime

      There is a woman at work who does this. She sits on the pot and talks to someone (her husband?) while she is doing her business. It’s just so weird. I just do my own thing and flush normally because I am not going to pretend that *I* am the one who is using the bathroom in a weird way!

  58. Imaginary Number

    When an email intended to be sent out to a small group gets sent to a much larger distribution list and some individuals think it’s appropriate to Reply All and inform everyone else in the larger distribution list that they should be removed from said email traffic.

  59. ArtyOfficeMouse

    Putting papers on one’s chair is one thing (I don’t like it, but it won’t break me). However, last week colleague A wanted to give colleague B a piece of cake from a party B wasn’t able to attend… and WANTED TO LEAVE IT ON HER CHAIR! I was astounded, and nicely suggested A move the cake to B’s desk, to prevent the semi-likely situation that B would sit on the cake. It had never crossed A’s mind that this could happen. I literally had no words…

  60. Amber

    Small thing that drives me nuts – we have Skype messaging at work and it DRIVES ME BATTY when people Skype me and just write, “Hey Amber”…. and leave it at that…. until I respond. It feels like they’re sliding into my DMs.

    It’s work, write something like, “Hey Amber, quick question about , got a minute?”

    1. Fortitude Jones

      Thank you – I never knew exactly why that bothered me, but you perfectly articulated my problem with it. It does feel like someone sliding into my DMs, lol. It’s so creepy – just ask your dang question!

  61. Darkened Meadow

    That one coworker who always has to be the center of attention and finish other people’s sentences in meetings, from across the room over the 8-foot high cubicle walls, while you are talking to someone on the phone, even talking over customers’ conversations while they’re on their cell phones!

  62. Jedi Squirrel

    Our (three hours per week 1099) cleaning lady cannot put anything back the way it was. If it was facing right, she’ll put it back facing left. If it was facing left, she’ll put it back facing right. You get the idea. It drives neatnik me bonkers. She’s also fairly forward, so the supply closet where the cleaning supplies are is now “her” closet, she dashed through the breakroom and helped herself to a slice of pizza a vendor had brought us, and I know entirely TOO DAMN MUCH about her husband’s medical condition.

    However, she does one hell of a job cleaning the office. I mean, it has never been this clean. She does an excellent job, and so I’ve decided to just find everything about her that annoys me simply charming. End of problem.

    1. Bagpuss

      WE recently had a new cleaner like this. She cleans more thoroughly than the previous one but she moves stuff. We have had to leave her notes (cleaning is out of office hours so cant speak to her face to face) to say please don’t move and mix papers.. if they are in separate heaps it is for a reason.
      She has (mostly) stopped doing that but other stiff still gets moved around – she binned a co-workers stash of (sealed, wrapped) snacks, and a if you leave your mug on your desk you are likely to return and find it has be re-purposed as a pen-holder, usually on someone else ‘s desk. (but oddly, only if it is clean. If it is dirty she will take it to the kitchen and wash it up)

    2. LQ

      Finding annoying things charming is such a good solution whenever possible. I try to think of it as something my delightful, favorite coworker would do.

  63. MuseumChick

    When long time employees act weird about new employees not picking up things instantly. I once worked at a place where the computer files were a mess. If you didn’t know the exact path to find what you needed you were basically doing the digital equivalent of an Easter egg hunt. One women has worked there for decades and after my first two weeks if I would ask her where a particular file was located she would make this low-key passive aggressive comments “You don’t know?”, “Didn’t we already show you that?” “It’s not that hard just (insert 18 step process).”

    1. Lilith

      Gosh, I hate those kind of comments. “Oh, it’s easy.” F me. It’s easy for you but damn, not for me plus if it were easy, I’d not be asking now would I you stupid cow. Jeesch.

    2. Amethystmoon

      Stuff like that should be documented for new people, so they don’t have to bug the existing people repeatedly. But then there were the times I documented exactly those kinds of things, and new person very obviously didn’t bother to read it.

    3. Life is Good

      Are you sure that’s not my old dysfunctional employer? The genius who set up our file storage/retrieval system really made a mess. She used to brag how she was self-taught. An Easter egg hunt would have been easier. I’m sorry you get crap for asking legitimate questions.

  64. Handling it with dignity and grace

    I have a coworker who clears her throat with a loud “Harrupffff!” about once a minute or so (once every fifteen seconds in the winter), then about every five minutes, there’s a violent “Harrumpffff ***ahck***cough***snort***disturbing sound of phlegm making it from her throat to her moth, only to be swallowed”. Just writing this makes my skin crawl and my heart rate go up. We’ve worked near each other for 10 years, and I’m sure she’s a lovely person, but I.HATE.HER.

    1. Goose Lavel

      Cognitive behavioral therapy will help you overcome your hate of this behavior. I used it successfully at a previous job with a coworker who smacked his lips all the time while chewing on gum.

  65. Catsaber

    My work pet peeve is when someone contacts me for help but gives me zero details that would allow me to help them. Example from today:

    Person: I can’t find a report.
    Me: What is the name of the report?
    Person: It’s just something I run.
    Me: What is the name of the report? Do you have a copy of the report? Or a screenshot?
    Person: I just can’t find it.
    Me: Is it ‘Popular Report Name”?
    Person: No. [crickets]

    AAAAARRRRRGGGHHHHHWWWEEEUUUUDDGGGHHH

    1. Put the Blame on Edamame

      Oh my God my inner sarcasm monster would be struggling to burst out at that point…

    2. Nanani

      That sounds like the boring version of Bookstore Worker Hell.
      “I’m looking for a book. The cover is red”
      – What was the title?
      “I don’t know, it was red on the cover.”
      – Do you remember the author’s name? Even partially?
      “I don’t know. The book was red”
      and so it goes

  66. anon for this

    One thing that drives me up the wall is when I’m the project lead and an editor insists on doing the following for each error:
    1) Making a note on the document. (NB: This is the only necessary step.)
    2) Creating a master note at the beginning of the document describing the notes of particular interest.
    3) Creating a cover letter re-describing the errors, plus some extra ones just to make sure I have to read the whole thing.
    4) Creating a list of the page numbers on which some categories of error occur.
    5) Emailing me periodically during the edit to inform me of the errors.
    6) Calling me if I don’t respond to the crucial emails in time.
    7) Including an extra note and extra cover letter to remind me of my comments about the errors.
    8) After submitting the project, sending frantic emails to make sure I saw each of the hundred times each error was documented.

    I think this comes from a place of 50 percent not really trusting that I read the document (I do) and 50 percent wanting recognition for each of their editing triumphs. It is such a massive waste of time, and I’ve tried so many times to tell them just to leave a single note on the document but it never sinks in.

  67. MissDisplaced

    A lot of little things get annoying, voices, sounds, etc. I try to ignore most of them, but what really gets me is loud bodily sounds: throat hawking, farting, spitting, belching and the like.

    Some guy was sitting in the cube next to me and he sounded like a cat yacking up a hairball. Ick!

      1. Annie

        People with medical conditions? It’s hardly something you can choose to do or not do!

        God is it Ableism Day here?

      2. Myrcallie

        I do, because I have digestive issues that flare up when I’m stressed- which, at my current job, is often.

  68. Alison743x

    On two occasions in two different admin jobs, I had people hide confidential documents and expected me to know where they were. First one, I was working for a doctor. He wanted a letter typed and it was after hours so he hid it in a book in my office and then the next day, he wanted to know why I hadn’t type it. Second one, in a university, the academic asked for her copies of the exam paper for her class in 45 minutes. She had hidden the exam paper in a tray on my desk since it was confidential. I was a temp so I wasn’t rifling through people’s trays when filling in. Both were mad that I didn’t know to look for hidden work. Neither apologised for it either.

  69. Anonymous For This One

    My biggest peeve? A coworker who is great in every other way, get up from their desk and walks down the hall to ANY conversation that’s being had, no matter what it is. They inject their opinion, one-up story, a non-relevant joke…you name it, into the conversation. It could be about work, personal, with a client, doesn’t matter. Drives me absolutely nuts. I think it’s just insecurity or maybe FOMO, but holy hell it’s annoying!

    1. London Calling

      When my colleague does that (and this colleague is NOT great in every other way and does this a lot) I walk away from the conversation telling whoever I’m talking to that I’ll come back later. This is all about hoovering up gossip and information.

  70. Avangelis

    Entering my cubicle without knocking. Don’t just barge in. Respect my space. Knock on the cube wall and wait. I have people barging in when I’m on calls or in the middle of something

  71. Peeved Analyst

    My biggest pet peeve at work is when people ask me things they could easily google or search in our employer intranet site. It drives me crazy! It makes me think the person is either lazy or a dimwit. It’s worse when they ask the same question multiple times in a week. Sometimes I Google it right in front of them, and they STILL can’t Google it themselves a week later. It’s not rocket science!

    1. Myrcallie

      Oh man, I had one of those earlier this week! The kicker was when he responded to my email, in which I had answered the question, with the exact same question.

  72. ZucchiniBikini

    I now work from home, where my only coworker is my cat whose most annoying behaviour is sitting on my keyboard when I need to type. It’s heaven :-D

    When I was in officeland, however, I did have occasional pet peeves, all from my miserable and mercifully short period working in an open-plan office. (Very, very little annoyed me enough to remark on it when I had my own office with a door that closed!) In the open-plan hell, my worst thing was people standing literally beside my desk having work conversations that tangentially touched on my work. I found that kind of chatter impossible to fully tune out (like I did with personal social chitchat) because I was alert to content that could actually affect my projects. People did it several times EVERY. FREAKING. DAY. and it drove me bananas.

    1. Tisiphone

      I hear you on that! Once upon a very long time ago I worked in tech support for a computer company. They didn’t have enough cubicles after a large hiring spree and they brought in tables and put partitions around them. Then they ran out of partitions.

      I was the not-so-lucky winner of the table without a partition. Guess whose workspace was the most popular chit-chat spot. There have been numerous times I’d have to interrupt an explanation of how to fix a computer problem to tell people to shut the F up, I’m on the phone.

      And a couple hours later, they’d be back, chitting and chatting right next to me.

  73. Myrcallie

    People going to my assistant/manager/DIRECTOR when I tell them no. I told you no for a reason! They will give you the exact same answer! Especially when what you want is ILLEGAL (not that I have a certain regional director in mind here…)

  74. I am Manbat!

    Most people don’t actually want to work. Hell, if I won the lottery, I would walk out of here immediately and never look back. So people at work are frustrated pretty much by default. Then someone adds extra irritation on top of that by chewing too loudly, or dragging their feet when they walk (I had some coworkers who always complained about a guy dragging his feet when he walked through the office. That was weird.)

    I’m at a point where I just don’t care anymore. Do whatever you want. Talk to your kids on speakerphone, crank up the temperature, whatever. Complaining about it won’t change anything.

  75. Bubbles

    My last company used “gentle reminders” a lot, because the people we were e-mailing would actually lose their minds if they felt they weren’t being shown proper deference. It was very much an “I am a LICENSED PROFESSIONAL and YOU are NOT” type of thing.

    Very glad to be out of there!

  76. Hell is Other People

    I’m currently sitting in cubicle land listening to a grown man pop his gum. Another coworker is listening to music without headphones. There are no fewer than three coworkers who clip their fingernails here. The person sitting directly behind me regularly heats up broccoli and fish in the microwave – together. A group sitting nearby yells out comments and questions to each other across the room rather than getting up from their desks and going to the other’s. The behavior I did address was three coworkers who had brought in “scentsy” type fragrance diffusers and were apparently engaged in some type of fragrance war. As the fragrances were causing me migraines, i did ask that they stop. Because I complained, i am now seen as the grumpy curmudgeon coworker. Am I intolerant or am I in hell?

  77. Liz Lemon 2

    The coworker who sits next to me (as in three feet from me in her cubicle, while I am in mine and there is no wall between us) is perfectly friendly, a pleasant office mate, eats quiet food, etc. However, when she turns her space heater on, my eyes glaze over and my mind flies into a murderous rage. How dare she turn on the space heater without putting her sweater on first?! How dare she ALWAYS put it on high instead of low?! Doesn’t she know that I am the hottest person in the office and agree to a “warmer than I’d like” office temperature to be flexible with my cold-natured coworkers?! Doesn’t she realize that she should turn it off after 10-20 minutes once she is “warmed up?!” That space heater is an assault to my very being.

  78. Luke

    My all time pet peeve is the people who send you an email, then call you within 5 minutes “Just checking to see if you got my email/had a chance to look at my email”. In other words, “I expect you to drop everything and work on my stuff… but I know I’d come off as pushy and entitled if I came right out and said that, especially since you don’t actually *work for me*, so I’ll just heavily imply it. Aren’t I clever…”

  79. Luke

    Dishonorable mention is the guy who had owed me a form for weeks, and turned it in over the weekend (when no one is in my office and he knows it), then called first thing (10 minutes before the office actuall opened) Monday.

    “Hi, this is Thockmorton P. Gildersleeve and I was wondering if you’ve had a chance to review my llama-grooming report.”
    “Hmm, I don’t recall having seen it in the queue, Mr Gildersleeve.”
    “Well, I turned it in LAST WEEK!”

    (Everything that shows up in the queue is timestamped right down to the second they released it to me, and there hadn’t been anything in the queue when I checked it for the last time 2 minutes before quitting time Friday, so I had a pretty good idea where this was going.)

    “Really? I’m logging into the system now. Knowing the date you released it to me would help me to locate it more quickly.”
    “Well, I don’t know, it’s been a few days now.”
    “How many days is ‘a few’?”

    (Actually, I’d already found it: suspicion confirmed. But since he’d copped a “waiting-on-you-slow-pokes” attitude with me right off the bat, I was going to make him squirm.)

    “Uh, a couple, I guess.”
    “So… two days ago?”
    “Yeah.”
    “So… Saturday?”
    [a lot more quietly] “Uh, yeah.”
    “So, why not just say Saturday?”
    [crickets]

  80. The Elephant in the room

    I find it ironic that most of these comments are about the things that annoy people. I took Allison’s point to be that it’s better for all of us to be more chill when it comes to work annoyances. I’d love to know what strategies people have for keeping calm and carrying on. Going for a walk? Five minute meditations? What helps?

  81. Allison

    I am one of those people that becomes murderously angry with loud chewers. In my last position, my coworker and I sat side-by-side at the same, long desk. While I otherwise liked her, I wanted to throat punch her everyday at lunch time. I would become so enraged, I had to go outside to calm myself down. Turns out, there is a thing called misophonia, which I’m pretty sure I have. Luckily, I now have my own office. But I can still hear a coworker across the hall from me chewing loudly from time to time. I just shut my blessed door.

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