update: my coworkers make orgasm sounds while I’m on the phone

It’s “where are you now?” month at Ask a Manager, and all December I’m running updates from people who had their letters here answered in the past.

Remember the letter-writer whose coworkers were making orgasm sounds while she was on the phone? Here’s the update.

I decided to take the slightly underhanded route of scheduling a call with an important customer half an hour before they were going to start faking it, and the moment I heard a noise from their department, I sent an email to my manager, their manager, and their team lead saying that I was on the phone with Professor Annalise Keating of Middleton University and could they please refrain from making any sexual noises while she could hear. To their credit, they were silent for the rest of the day. Later, Bonnie, who is in my department but who didn’t know that I’d specifically requested they be quiet because of my call, made a comment to Laurel, a weekly faker, that she was so glad that they’d finally quit it with the sex noises. On Monday, I went over and thanked them all for not making orgasm noises while I was on my call and said that I’d found the orgasm noises very distracting in the past and would really prefer that they not make orgasm noises in a group like that again. I tried to say the word orgasm as often as possible in as flat a tone of voice as possible, in the hopes that some of them would realize how ridiculous this situation was.

The next few Fridays, I went over to ask them not to make orgasm noises, and they didn’t, though some of them were kind of snarky about it and made it clear they thought I was the Fun Police. Then one Friday, I was off work and apparently they took that as their cue to start faking it again, but then Wes, who is in a third department and is very mild-mannered, went over and told them that they were making him uncomfortable and he had really appreciated the quiet over the past few weeks. I think that that finally clued them into the fact that not everyone thought they were as cute and funny as they thought they were, because the faking it stopped! One or two of them were pretty sulky and snubbed me a bit, but by that point (two and a half months after my initial email), I had been interviewing at another job and was close to getting an offer, so I really didn’t care at all. I did get the new job and started in early February…and then Corona hit, I got laid off, and I got rehired at the old job at 90% of my previous salary. We’ve all been working remotely, and the company’s actually handled it really well and given almost everyone the option to work remotely permanently. We have had occasional recreational video chats scheduled, and we have an open office-wide IM for fun, non-work related messages, but those channels have all been appropriate and free of sex noises, and strictly opt-in. Still don’t love this job and still looking for a new one, but things could definitely be worse!

{ 162 comments… read them below }

  1. somanyquestions*

    Oh, what is wrong with those people.

    LW, I’m glad they stopped, but I agree, you need out. They are still the people who think making loud orgasm noises were appropriate at work.

    1. MusicWithRocksIn*

      Man. Not as satisfying as the first update. I mean, in the end it stopped and I guess every update can’t be “Company pulled it’s shit together and change came from the top” but it still would have been good if someone in actual authority had realized how very not ok this was.

      1. Not A Girl Boss*

        I am imagining the “I will confront you by Wednesday” boss sending an email about how “sex noises should not be made at work” email and it is amusing me greatly.

        1. desdemona*

          my university department had an infamous email i was told about (happened before my time) in which the dept head sent an email to all students titled “Drugs.” (apparently someone had left evidence of illegal activities in one of the classrooms)

          I imagine the tone of that email to be fairly similar to Wednesday boss, and the sex noises email you are envisioning.

          1. RebelwithMouseyHair*

            oh you just reminded me of a time when we got a client at the agency needing translations about drugs (leaflets to hand out at night clubs, on a basis of since the kids are going to do it anyway, at least let’s make sure they don’t mix stuff and know to drink water and know what to expect so they know if something’s really gone wrong). Cue all sorts of emails on the lines of “here’s the cocaine, are you on track for LSD by Friday?”, we kept expecting a police investigation any minute!

    2. pleaset cheap rolls*

      It’s not even particularly funny. And even if you think it is funny the first time, do they actually find it funny multiple times.

      That’s just stupid.

    1. A Simple Narwhal*

      I’m curious about this too, not that I want people’s salaries to be cut but I hope it wasn’t a penalty towards the LW

      1. Annony*

        There is also a middle ground where they are simply hiring people at a lower salary right now because that is all they can afford and they don’t want outright pay cuts because of the hit to morale. It really sucks for the OP but isn’t necessarily vindictive on the company’s part.

      2. Claire*

        It’s also possible that she might have been rehired at a slightly lower level than her previous job, like, maybe she was an Associate of Teapot Polishing III and now she’s an Associate of Teapot Polishing II or something. I feel like there are a lot of reasons why a person might get a slightly lower salary when rehired at a previous job, and many of them are fair enough.

  2. Quill*

    A successful update to a situation that still makes me wonder what the duck these people were thinking.

      1. Office Grunt*

        Your choice of words made me think back to a different letter with a certain kind of club…

            1. DyneinWalking*

              Ooooohhh, and u and i are right next to each other on the keyboard, too! I never noticed the possible connection.

    1. Anonys*

      The manager of the “fake it Fridays team” absolutely baffles me.

      Imagine being an actual adult, who is not new to office life, knows how to fill out an expense report, one who has been given the responsibility to manage other people and might have even attended an HR training on hostile workplaces at some point and actually hearing yourself say out: “Sorry that it’s awkward on your client calls but I just can’t to tell my team to stop faking orgasms every Friday because that’s how they blow off steam”

      When the letter first came out I was kind of hoping they would get sued and would have to explain this thinking to a judge. Also, a court ruling might be one of the few things that might(!) actually make people like this understand they were in the wrong. Right now, they clearly still believe it’s everyone else that has the issue.

      Also,is OP quite sure they didn’t accidentally get hired at one of those student consulting firms some unis have? One that’s run entirely by a frat house?

      1. CmdrShepard4ever*

        I think OP is just a very unenlightened stick in the mud. Obviously they have not heard/read the famous study by Dr. Proffessor Boaty Mcboatface Esq. LLC that proved that 30 minutes a day spent making fake orgasm noises directly causes a 75% tenfold jump in employee productivity and satisfaction by releasing serotonin in employees brains. If employees fake it till they make it, they will feel better. /s

  3. Alex*

    I’m trying to imagine what it is like to be a person who feels put out when someone asks me to stop making orgasm noises at work.

    1. lyonite*

      You would think, after the third person said they didn’t like it, that they might conclude that perhaps they were the ones in the wrong. But then, you would think that people would know not to make orgasm noises at work, so. . .

    2. Portabella*

      I used to work with someone who would definitely by pouty if they had been told to stop making orgasm noises at work….they were very loud in general, and liked to talk (yell) about all sorts of work-inappropriate topics, and if you asked them not to talk about those things, or be quieter, they would then loudly lecture you for half an hour about why you were no fun, worked “too hard for the man”, needed to relax, and then also include a diatribe on everything wrong with society as a whole. While not getting any of their work done.

      They were definitely a contributing factor to me leaving that job – also because mgmt did absolutely nothing to discipline them! (about the talking, but also about not doing their work, among many, MANY other things)

    3. Anonymous at a University*

      I think the (weird) topic obscures the fact there are lots of people who think they’re being brilliant and funny and will sulk at being told to stop whatever behavior that is. I’ve never worked with someone who made orgasm noises on the job, but I have worked with various people who sulked at being told to stop introducing themselves with, “Hi, I’m [name], and I cut myself!”; to stop loudly praying that a co-worker would turn straight; to stop using racial slurs (which she claimed were part of her “Southern U.S. culture”); and to stop telling co-workers that unless they donated money to him right now to buy his kids a puppy, his kids were going to kill themselves. They snubbed the people who told them to stop and took on an injured air, just like these weirdos.

      1. CoveredInBees*

        I’ve always been rather quiet and introverted at work and, as such, have been trying to find jobs that are a good match for that as I restart my career. This has me wondering if rich people still hire hermits. Those people sound absolutely bizarre and make me wonder about what other poor judgments they’re making at work.

        1. JustaTech*

          I’m not sure I’d want to live in a cave and be dressed in rags, but I could totally be a picturesque bookworm sitting quietly in your library. I’d even dress up in period costume!

    4. Massmatt*

      Yeah, even if it weren’t so NSFW, its a joke that has just gone on too long. Even the best jokes have expiration dates. Who keeps flogging a joke like this every week? That’s actually the response I would try using, make it clear they are not being funny, that tends to take the wind out of the sails.

      1. TexasRose*

        Ah, but at this point, I suspect it’s not that the joke is funny to them as such; it’s that they are pestering the OP by perseverating* the objectionable behavior. How DARE someone harsh their fun!

        *Yes, that is the correct word. Perseverating (in layman’s terms) is persevering past rational limits.

  4. Sleepytime Tea*

    Sigh. I remember reading this and seriously feeling for you LW. I. Couldn’t. Even. I am far from a prude, and this would absolutely make me uncomfortable and frustrated and annoyed.

    I LOVE how you handled it. Fantastic job and so glad you have the peace and quiet!

  5. designbot*

    Such a great example that when one person admits to being uncomfortable, speaking up will open the doors for others to admit that they are too!

    1. Cat Tree*

      Maybe I need to take this approach with the guy who clips all his nails in an open office plan. I can’t be the only person bothered by this, so maybe I just need to start and open the floodgates.

        1. Mongrel*

          Same, if I don’t clip I gnaw and that’s how I end up with infected wounds.
          Yes, I know it’s bad but once I notice it I can’t not do it. Clipping is a lot safer for me.

        2. allathian*

          One nail is okay, and I definitely think that most people would be sympathetic because broken nails are so uncomfortable. Ten nails, not so much. That said, I do have some sympathy for people who are trying to stop biting their nails. I did that as a teen, and the way I finally managed to stop doing it was to keep my nails clipped pretty much to the quick so there was nothing to chomp. I mean, I took my nail clipper to school and did it in class sometimes. But I sat at the back and nobody noticed, and in junior high, the teacher was busy keeping the talkers quiet.

        3. Rambler*

          Just take it to the bathroom!!!! Please!!!! So infuriating, but in the bathroom it would not be an issue, because that is where personal grooming belongs.

          Side note, I once inherited a desk from a serial nail trimmer… and the first thing I had to do when I moved in was clean the drawers. Thoroughly. Because there were nail clippings in Every. Single. Drawer.

      1. Idril Celebrindal*

        Definitely there are others that are bothered, it isn’t a pleasant sound.

        I do trim my nails at work sometimes, since if one tears I keep worrying at it until I’ve gotten all the way to the quick and that isn’t good. However, that’s what the scissors on a keychain pocket knife are for: quiet, unobtrusive, no snipping sounds, and there is also a handy file if you can do that quietly too.

  6. Archaeopteryx*

    OP, please Glassdoor the fact that this happened whenever you next re-leave this place. I would really want to know this if I was job-searching so I could opt out and nope myself far far away.

    1. Mel_05*

      Yup. I work with people who love a crass joke – but this would be far beyond for almost anyone.

      1. Richard Hershberger*

        In Robert Heinlein’s The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, the protagonist explains to the sentient computer, who is learning about humor, the taxonomy of jokes, dividing them into not funny, funny once, and funny always. Even if we generously grant the fake orgasm noise as funny once, it certainly is not funny always. People who don’t know the difference are boors.

          1. Jennifer Thneed*

            Just read a book called The Free Lunch. Yes, it referenced the Heinlein quote. Quite enjoyed it.

            1. Cady Glaser*

              I immediately thought of Mike Holmes and Manuel, when reading this post, but thought the reference would be too obscure. Then to find five other Heinlein readers in the comment thread! Beyond overjoyed. When I’ve been overcome with anxiety about politics, it’s “Harsh Mistress” that gets me through.

        1. Camellia*

          I’m looking forward to the implementation of line marriages. How many problems/issues that would resolve!

          1. Richard Hershberger*

            It is clear that Heinlein approved of the idea of being able to have sex with a wide variety of women, but his theoretical ideas on how to implement this are not well founded.

              1. Cady Glaser*

                Agreed. But he opened my eyes as a teenager to…. many available options, and directly prevented my being coerced into an early pregnancy. Despite his many faults of narrative and politics, he has my loyalty, and I am glad to see he is not forgotten.

        2. allathian*

          Indeed. I’m trying to teach this principle to my son. He’s 11 and keeps telling the same jokes over and over. I’m trying to tell him that the vast majority of jokes are only funny once, if that. TANSTAAFL

  7. Crivens!*

    There really should be some kind of basic maturity test one most pass before one is offered employment.

    1. evolution in action*

      If that were the case, offices throughout Silicon Valley would be nearly empty (not necessarily a bad thing…)

      1. Crivens!*

        Yeah, I’ve got absolutely no problem with that. Start-ups that pride themselves on acting like children (and often thus excluding a lot of people who aren’t straight white men) don’t impress me much.

        1. Ally McBeal*


          Maybe filling out Silicon Valley with more than just tech bros might result in more thought diversity, and therefore better thought-out (and more equitable and less harmful) products.

        2. Student*

          I am in agreement with you on detesting this type of “work culture”.

          However, I do think you’ve got the cause and effect backwards.

          Folks like this act like brats/arseholes to drive other people away who aren’t “in” their little arsehole tribe. They know exactly what they are doing and are doing it on purpose. Don’t give them the fig leaf of assuming good or clueless intentions are behind… faking orgasms at work, or nerf gun fights, or sexual harassment, or racist harassment, etc. They want people who don’t join into their herd (or accept the herd’s authority/dominance) to get driven out.

      2. Zombeyonce*

        They would quickly be filled with a much more diverse workforce than currently resides there.

    2. irene adler*

      Yeah- Please define “Professional Behavior” and give examples.
      If they can’t do that- pass on hiring them.

      I could see one isolated joke- given the right environment.

      But the OP’s case- NO. NO. NO.

  8. A Simple Narwhal*

    I cannot believe there was a group of people who saw that scene and their takeaway was to reproduce it. Repeatedly. With coworkers! I’m no prude but that scene makes me die of secondhand embarrassment to the point that if I’m watching it by myself I’ll usually fast forward. (Any depiction of someone making a scene in public always makes me cringe, so it’s not just the sexual aspect of it.)

    I’m glad OP was able to get them to stop!

    1. Sparkles McFadden*

      Yes, this is something that gets old right while it’s going on. I cannot believe it was a weekly thing.

      1. WellRed*

        It got old even just reading about it! Once, after hours, OK (though not my cup of tea) but weekly?

      2. A Poster Has No Name*

        Exactly! I was wondering how in the hell anyone could keep doing it week after week.

        Presumably not because they enjoyed it but because they knew it making people uncomfortable and they were getting away with it.

        1. Where’s the Orchestra?*

          That was my take from the initial letter – that the noisemakers knew that other people were uncomfortable and were enjoying their power to make other people uncomfortable.

          1. Daffy Duck*

            Yup, getting away with socially unacceptable behavior and making people uncomfortable. It was totally a power move. Their manager is either doesn’t understand how it is inappropriate or agrees with the behavior, either way she is incompetent.

    2. Ally McBeal*

      I once had a moment where, upon discovering that another coworker was a fan of the same nerdy thing as me, let out a series of excited “Oh!”s that – when a third coworker poked his head into our office with a raised eyebrow – I realized it had sounded like an orgasm. I was mortified for WEEKS and still cringe when I think about it several years later. Sexual noises in an office are Very Bad. (Quack!)

  9. B-r-i*

    I actually had something really similar happen from a customer pov and it ruined my day and gave me that icky feeling.

    1. Clorinda*

      Maybe you called in to the LW’s workplace once while this was going on? Because how could there be two????

  10. Jackie Techila*

    I’m gonna have an answer as immature as those people: happy people don’t bother other people – read: people who actually have sex don’t pretend they do it.

    1. Nanani*

      Yeaaaah this is pretty gross. People can be happy without sex. Asexual people exist, for one.
      You recognize it’s immature but it’s actually grosser than that.

      1. Thankful for AAM*

        I did not take it as happy ppl dont pretend to have sex (therefore ppl who have sex are happy). I took that as, just like happy ppl dont bother others (or kill their husbands, a la legally blonde), ppl who have sex don’t pretend to have sex. It would be rude but tempting to point out that the orgasm team is basically announcing an interest in sex but a lack of it.

        Happy people just don’t kill their husbands, they just don’t. Elle Woods

        1. Daffy Duck*

          I took it in the same vein as the old saw “Truly rich folks don’t talk about how rich they are.”

      2. Jackie Techila*

        I understand this point and the implication happy people = have sex was not made in my comment. If anything it says if you’re happy the way you are, you’re not gonna bother other people about it. It was an analogy and as it bothers people I won’t use it again.

    2. Threeve*

      Yeah, I would really have wanted to begin with “I realize that this is something that’s been missing from your personal life for a while, honey, but…”

      1. Jackie Techila*

        Yeah, it’s immature to be like “ha you don’t have sex huh” but cheesus christ on a bike these coworkers!

  11. Jean*

    The original letter is one of my favorite “WTF” letters ever answered by Alison. I can’t decide what my favorite part was, the fact that these people are still so hung up on a scene from a 30 year old romcom, or the fact that the manager didn’t want to tell them to stop because “it helps them blow off steam.” This workplace sounds like a lost episode of “The Office.”

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Right? I loved that defense of it. I wonder if someone there could start having *actual* orgasms at work and just explain it was helping them blow off steam.

    2. Richard Hershberger*

      I once saw a definition of a “wit” as someone who can quote Monty Python scripts verbatim–and doesn’t.

      1. Where’s the Orchestra?*


        It’s also a key sign of emotional intelligence and maturity – knowing the jokes but also knowing the room well enough to not tell said jokes.

      2. allathian*

        Yes, definitely this. It’s a matter of knowing your audience.
        Another thing is that even if you enjoy crude jokes, which I admit I sometimes do, this doesn’t mean that I’d laugh at the joke if a coworker told it during a meeting with our boss, or my husband told it at the dinner table with my parents and in-laws present, even if I would laugh at the joke if I heard it in private or among friends who have a similar sense of humor.

      3. PersephoneUnderground*

        Oh gosh, now the temptation to drop Monty Python quotes is strong. But of course I can’t in response to this, because I want to be witty! That’s some serious psychology judo right there.

  12. Fancy Owl*

    I’m still super baffled that they didn’t get bored after week two. Especially if it was the same group every time. On top of being immature I’m also assuming these people are really uncreative. You think they’d are least switch to different joke after a while, not that that would have been better. Glad it stopped OP!

  13. pandq*

    I laughed out loud envisioning this: ” I tried to say the word orgasm as often as possible in as flat a tone of voice as possible…”

    1. JJ*

      Agreed! A very smart way to make it unsatisfying for a group which clearly enjoys getting a rise out of people.

      “Hi, your immature game is lame and boring. Stop. We are all embarrassed for you.”

      1. DyneinWalking*

        Actually, I don’t think “returning awkward to sender” is the way to put it. THEY certainly didn’t think it was awkward (for them), and anyway, being the person who is actively making orgasm noises SHOULD be more embarrassing/awkward than being the person in their vicinity.

        But I reckon it was a good strategy for other reasons – if OP hadn’t mentioned the word “orgasm” so often, they would likely have dwelled even more on her being “prudish” and “stuck up” and concluded that she just couldn’t bear the mere idea of sex (and might well have tried to get a rise out of her in the moment by making lot’s of sexual jokes, I’m sure of it). However, by saying the sex-related word over and over in a flat, boring tone of voice, OP made clear that the “sex” part itself wasn’t the problem so much as the “work environment” part (which in fact is the key issue here).

        And honestly… myself I don’t mind sex jokes as such (so long as they are actually witty), but the thing with most people who make inappropriate jokes and think they are sooooooo funny… if you look closely at their jokes, the joke is usually just “I’m making a reference to [inappropriate topic]! I’m mentioning, it! Aren’t I funny?!”. And the issue is that that just doesn’t tickle my funny bone… Sex happens, yes – and? The joke being…? I’d argue that not being amused at these jokes isn’t so much due being “stuck up”, but simply due having matured past the point where the topic is new and scandalous and exciting at the mere thought.
        (Not meaning to bash the people who like those jokes exactly because of that, but you people who feel addressed, do realize that that’s the reason you laugh, and are aware that the people who don’t are often more bored than offended… yes? Yes?)

        1. JustaTech*

          It’s like the slightly older version of my 4-year-old goddaughter’s recent fixation on poop jokes.
          They’re not jokes by any standard meaning of the word, they’re just excuses to say “poop” a lot. She thinks they are hysterical, laughing until she can barely breathe. Adults are like “um hm, that’s nice honey”.

          If she was actually going anywhere with other people her parents would ask her to stop, because it isn’t funny, just like how pretending to orgasm is very funny in your dorm room or home, and not even slightly funny at work.

  14. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd (ENTP)*

    A good update for sure, but I raised my eyebrow at the professionalism (I don’t object to ‘underhand’ as such) of an approach of:

    scheduling a call with an important customer half an hour before they were going to start faking it, and the moment I heard a noise from their department, I sent an email to my manager, their manager, and their team lead saying that I was on the phone with Professor Annalise Keating of Middleton University and could they please refrain from making any sexual noises while she could hear.

    1. JJ*

      Me too, but I thought maybe it was the type of thing where there’d be a call log someone could check?

      Plus it seemed like OP needed some real leverage/consequences to get the “blow off steam” manager to do anything…she shouldn’t have had to do it, but I’m hard-pressed to think of a better way to get the reticent manager on board when loud, weekly group orgasm noises weren’t enough to get her to act.

      1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd (ENTP)*

        Even if there was a call log etc… it isn’t a great look for the company in the eyes of Professor Keating (PK), and presumably that would have to be addressed with PK (or their organisation) afterwards in the same way as anything else unflattering that the customer overheard (I think there was a letter here a little while ago about hearing rudeness after thinking the phone had been hung up.. was the OP the customer in that letter and the rudeness was from the vendor, I can’t recall now, but I have a vague sense of the letter). From PK’s perspective, even if I realised it was silliness of some kind it wouldn’t paint the company in a very good light.

        I think this is qualitatively different from something like letting a client deliverable go off-track due to lack of resources (as a way of getting managers to act) [with the commonality / analogy being ‘make a real impact on a customer in order to force the issue when management have been so far unwilling to act’.]

        1. Claire*

          To me it doesn’t necessarily sound like Professor Keating actually heard anything, or if she did, she may not have heard anything hugely incriminating? If OP actually put a stop to the noises the moment she heard anything, there may have been only one solitary, breathy moan (wild that that was a phrase I had to use here!), which probably wouldn’t be hugely recognizable to Professor Keating over the phone, especially half an hour into the call when presumably people were talking, and especially if PK’s workplace is such that orgasm noises would be entirely unexpected (which you’d think would be all workplaces outside of the sex industry, but!!!).

          1. Captain dddd-cccc-ddWdd (ENTP)*

            Elapsed time between “leaders receiving an email” and “action being taken” would be a few times longer than a solitary, breathy moan. Even if you assume their team lead received the email within 5 seconds of OP sending it, read it immediately (doesn’t usually happen!), mentally processed it, and then immediately took action and said “hey team, cut it out, OP is on a call” that’s a delay of at least 30 seconds.

            If 30 seconds doesn’t sound like a lot… think (directed at the general reader, not specifically at Claire!) how long 30 seconds is when you are making a presentation, for example.

            1. Claire*

              That’s fair, no matter how quick OP was to call the fakers out, there’s going to be a little lag time. I just figure that the customer wouldn’t be expecting to hear orgasm sounds, is on the phone and presumably at least a short distance away, and would be in the middle of the call, so wouldn’t be hugely likely to both hear and register the noises—the original letter does say that the headsets aren’t great at blocking out sound and that OP was worried that customers would hear, but it doesn’t seem certain that any customers did hear. So like, maybe not the best solution possible, in that it did run the risk of offending a customer, but I’m not sure that it definitely did offend a customer.

      2. PersephoneUnderground*

        Agreed- it’s ridiculous, but she had to get a bit Machiavellian to force them to actually stop. Waiting for it to happen naturally with an important enough client on the phone could have worked, but honestly, setting up this one incident was enough to just end the problem for the OP and *all* future clients this could have happened with. I applaud the ingenuity :) Hopefully she managed to keep said client from actually having to hear anything, but I think it was worth the risk to stop the problem completely.

    2. SometimesALurker*

      I wondered about that too. My hope is that either OP knew that Professor Keating had already heard this more than once, and this was just OP’s way of making sure she could send this email when she planned to, or that they had actually had a 20-minute phone call and the client wasn’t actually on the other end when the noises began.

      Still, a pretty excellent resolution to a truly WTF tale.

    3. Not worried*

      OP sounds level-headed and savvy, and she knows the Happy Ending Bunch’s routine by heart, so I took it for granted that she knew how to accomplish this without the client’s having to hear anything unacceptable.

      Maybe the noises start too low to be heard on the phone; maybe she knows the important people are at their desks reading email instantly and will shut it down immediately; maybe she knew she would be almost finished with the call or would have the ability to wrap it up quickly if necessary, etc. I’m not inclined to worry too much about OP’s judgment here.

    4. Observer*

      It sounded to me like the OP had thought about the risks and acted in a way that minimized it – but also thought it was worth taking that risk, given that the noise level had been happening anyway with customer calls.

    5. lazuli*

      Why the heck should the OP have to schedule her work around her co-workers’ inappropriate orgasm noises? If her co-workers are doing things that are inappropriate to be doing while a co-worker is on an important call, it’s not her fault, nor should she be trying to accommodate them.

      1. lazuli*

        I mean, is her boss going to yell at her for jeopardizing an account because she didn’t accommodate her co-workers’ orgasm noises?

        The OP using the leverage of the important account was brilliant. If the managers were in any way competent, it wouldn’t have taken that threat to shut down this harassment.

      2. Insert Clever Name Here*

        I agree. The only way this would be questionably professional is if OP *hadn’t already tried the official route to get it to stop*. OP’s use of leverage in this situation, when management failed to act on her complaint, is brilliant.

  15. Dust Bunny*

    Yet again, I find myself feeling immensely grateful for my sane, reasonable, non-faking coworkers.

  16. NotQuiteAnonForThis*

    I work in a fairly immature field. Like we joke frequently (but aren’t really joking at all) that we’re nothing more than a bunch of twelve year olds, maturity wise. Bodily functions are hilarious. Expletives are a part of the vernacular. Yes, we can dial it back as needed, but near daily, my department is in tears laughing over something very immature. Like “twelve year old immature”. Think “farts and burps are absolutely hysterical”, nothing “-ist” in nature.

    I’ve read this update three times now, and I’ve re-read the original letter four times, and I am utterly speechless, even with my years in this industry not known for maturity. This is…wow. The original drunken game wouldn’t have even gotten off the ground here.

    No idea how the update writer “should have addressed it”, but what she did seems to have worked!

  17. Des*

    WTF. Quite aside from how it makes them look, I’m amazed they didn’t get bored with this after the first half hour.

  18. La Triviata*

    Once, many years ago, I had had a long, stressful day. I was in the office late, working with our IT consultant. He’d just unpacked a new mouse and was reading the instructions. Those instructions included information on cleaning the mouse balls (yes, this was long enough ago that a computer mouse would have a little ball inside – kind of like a closed-in track ball). He was reading them out to me and every time the phrase “mouse balls” came up we’d both giggle hysterically. It would have been wildly inappropriate, but itwas just the two of us, late in the evening, with no one else around.

    1. NotQuiteAnonForThis*

      See, that’s the kind of humor that has my department practically crying on the daily. Bodily functions and random unintentional double entendres are our source of juvenile amusement!

    2. cleo*

      I remember mouse balls! (that is not a sentence I was expecting to write this morning and now I’m giggling like a 12 year old too)

  19. Observer*

    I just listened to a really interesting podcast on Hidden Brain called “A conspiracy of silence”. It’s about how people go along with stuff because they think that everyone ELSE is on board with something, even though it’s not actually the case. It sounds like that was in part what was going on here.

    The phenomenon apparently has a name – preference falsification.

    Still the whole thing is utterly bizarre.

    1. PersephoneUnderground*

      Apparently there was a study on “hooking up” (*clutches pearls*) published by researchers at my undergrad that said the same phenomenon applied there. The majority of both men and women said they preferred more traditional dating, but thought the opposite sex preferred casual hookups so did that more often than they might have if they just went with their own preferences.

  20. CommanderBanana*

    This is insane. I imagine if I were in the LW’s position I would have one of those out-of-body experiences where my mother inhabits my corporal shell for a moment and I would snap KNOCK. IT. OFF. in her Scary Mommy Voice of Doom ™.

    1. EvilQueenRegina*

      She’s from How To Get Away With Murder – Bonnie, Laurel and Wes are also characters on that show.

  21. Ubi Caritas*

    I used to work in a well known hospital. We never had time for pranks or making orgasm sounds – we had a lot of work to do. I cannot understand – if people have the time to sit around and make orgasm sounds, they don’t have enough to do.

  22. ATM*

    OP, I’m sorry it ever got to this point, but I’m still in awe that any of them thought it was even remotely okay.

  23. Claire*

    Glad we’re starting update season off with a bang! Or at least it sounds like we’re starting update season off with a bang!

  24. NQ*

    Imagine being the customer who could possibly hear though?! If I called another business and I could hear orgasm sounds in the background… being in a very male-dominated field (I’m a woman), I feel like I could easily get the wrong end of the stick and think the person I was calling was doing it deliberately…

  25. boop the first*

    I’m seriously wondering if any of them actually SAW that movie, because most of my young life, it was the only thing I knew about it. But then I finally sat down to watch it and that diner scene is such a ho-hum and empty piece of the story. My memory gets way more hung up on how freaking annoying Billy Crystal’s character is. What a gas-bag! Fun movie. Of all the opportunities for your coworkers to ambush each other with extra long and arrogant monologues at inconvenient times, they chose that, huh.

  26. Doris*

    Wow! A couple friends made sex noises at the cinema when we were 15 years old and I was absolutely mortified and thought they were incredibly immature then. Can’t imagine people doing this at work, even though I’m generally a pretty silly person with a decent sense of humour.

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