Shared Office Space Creates Tension

Dear Suri, I work in a “shared office environment,” which only means that everyone shares an office with at least two other people. It is mostly a space issue, but my supervisor also says it was done to boost teamwork. I guess people were relying on e-mail and chat and not actually talking to each other for weeks on end.

I actually don’t mind this setup, and the people I share with are usually pretty good about not listening to loud music, keeping food and perfume smells to a minimum, etc. But now this one lady has started to mess the whole thing up.

She just got a new personal computer, and now insists that everyone lock the door when they leave the office. It is just stupid. I’ve already been locked out three times, and it is just a waste of time and productivity.

Business People Working In Office
We’re all in this together

Labor Intensive

I’m overweight, so I usually empty my pockets when I get to work. The way dress pants are made, they don’t leave a lot of ‘extra room,’ if you know what I mean. It just gets too tight and uncomfortable when I sit down with stuff in my pockets. I’ve started to put my wallet and keys in a drawer and leave them in there until the end of the day. So when this lady pulls this stuff, it means I get locked out. I am tired of it!

Twice Shy

I complained to a co-worker, and he said that she (my office mate) had some stuff stolen a few years back when she had her own office. They took her computer, purse and some other stuff. Some guy posed as a janitor and just swiped stuff from everyone. I guess he made off with a lot, and then was never seen again. But that was years ago, and also when her office was on the first floor. Now we’re on the second floor. It would take balls to come up here and pull that stuff!

I think this lady is being disrespectful. Constantly locking the door is annoying, especially since she has a drawer that locks! Just keep your stuff in there. Don’t force the rest of us to play this game every day! — Locked Out in Loch Haven, Pennsylvania

Dear Locked Out, Rebuilding trust can be a long and difficult process. More than the mere loss of material possessions, theft is a violation of privacy and security. The emotional toll can last for years — even a lifetime.

Remaining sympathetic to your co-worker’s concerns, could you not draft a personal reminder to bring your keys when you leave the office? Good luck. ~Suri

Suri Says™
by Suri Syrtauwnya
Advice Editor
Residential Life Magazine


December Downer

So this putz at work thinks I have it out for him. We had this office gift exchange at Christmas and he put in the only gag gift. I got it, and even though I thought about breaking his legs right then and there, I didn’t, and instead laughed it off. I did make a note of it, though, and if I ever see him the parking lot, he’s gonna feel my windshield at 30 mph!

Deep Trouble

Anyway, I guess he got called into the supervisor’s office, where he got a real talking to. I mean he got raked over the goddam coals! This is what I hear, at least. If it were me, I would have broken a mirror over that SOB’s eyes! I would have taken a fug’n mallet to his gut. I’d beat him to a point where he’d have to take a month off work. I would teach him a lesson he’d keep for life.

You Can’t See Me

The point is, now I noticed him trying to avoid me in the office. Whenever I see him, he just kind of slinks away. If I see him at his car, he makes this stupid face and just puts his head down and walks off. I get that he’s pissed, but I wasn’t the one who bought the gag gift. I also wasn’t the one who said anything about it. I guess someone was “offended” on my behalf. Asshole. I should stab them in the neck just for getting in my business. I should break a chair over their shoulders, then throw their desk on top of them. I’ll do it! I don’t give two shits. No one goes behind my back like that. No one.

Mending Fences

So now I have to decide if this prick is worth explaining the situation to, or if I should just let him go on thinking that I squealed like a greased pig. On the one hand, I don’t want to come off like some little whiny bitch, but on the other hand, if he thinks I’ve got an eye on him (not in a gay way or anything), maybe he’ll stop being such a douche and act normal for a change.

Part of me wants to let it go. Bygones and all that. But the other part of me wants to push his face so far into the pavement that he’ll be sneezing tar and road pellets for years to come! I’ll crack his head open like a fug’n cantaloupe! I’ll get him in a headlock ‘til he passes out, then stomp on his nuts ‘til I hear a pop! That motherfucker’s not gonna get away with this. Not on my watch. Not today. No way, no how. I’ll punch him in his goddam jaw! I’ll break the fug’n thing off and huck like a goddam boomerang!

by Abraham “Able Abe” Aenstograafik
Residential Life Magazine

A Little Nice Goes a Long Way

My birthday is next month and I’ve been ‘invited’ to attend the monthly “birthday bash” at my work, even though I previously told the organizer I’m not interested.

I said I’m just very busy, and since the events are held first thing in the morning, it makes it difficult for me to get back into the swing of things for the rest of the day. Lame excuses, I know, made even more lame by the fact that they’re not entirely true.

Bend the Rules

Like a lot of people, I do follow a routine in the morning and can get side-tracked if I get distracted for too long. But these little get-togethers are only about half an hour long, and I don’t know anyone who is so rigid that they can’t take a break every once in a while. Even the President has to ‘roll with the punches’ of schedule changes. And everyone is busy. Everyone. So that excuse should be put on the shelf.

Missed Manners

The main reason I don’t attend is because people are mean. I know someone is going to say “Well, you aren’t very nice to them, either,” and you would be wrong. I’m not trying to cop an attitude here, but it’s true.

angry coworkers scolding fellow employee
Don’t be a douche

Whenever I see someone in the hall or around the building, I always say “Hello.” I only get a return greeting about 50% of the time. That’s not an exaggeration. In fact, some people won’t say anything at all! I used to get peeved about this, but after chatting with a friend, I decided to try out a little experiment and just continue with my greetings, even if they weren’t returned.

In the end, most of the people who were initially ‘shy’ (or what have you) began to respond after a few weeks when we had ‘gotten to know each other.’ I still think this warming up process is for the birds. We’re not in kindergarten anymore, and it’s not like I’m a stranger on the street. But I’m willing to let that go if it means (eventually) they decide to act like a sane human being and actually say ‘hello’ (or at least acknowledge the goddam greeting!) when someone makes an effort.

Get a Life

I’m not sure why the other half of my co-workers still decide to be so anti-social. So, until people can actually show some respect, I’m not going to pretend everything is okay and go to these stupid parties every month.

You can say that makes me a ‘negative Nelly,’ or a downer, or anything else. I really don’t care. I’m not going to put on some show for these people who can barely function in society.

by Mr. Grunbau
Residential Life Magazine

Get Over It

Though my work team performs a sort of internal customer service (work requests from co-workers), there is a saying that “we are not order takers.”

Instead, our team supervisor has charged us with assessing each situation presented, and then working with the customer (co-worker) to arrive at a sort of compromise. We are told to deliver most of what the customer has requested, while still remaining true to industry standards and best practices. Like Enid, I really hate those phrases.

The problem is, most of the people on my team talk about our customers (behind closed doors, of course) like they’re stupid, or that they just don’t understand what our occasional reservations are, because they don’t know the system well enough.

While it’s true that customers may not know all the inner workings of the department and the reasons behind some of our processes, the same can be said for our knowledge of other departments. That is the whole point of hiring people with expertise in different fields!

Getting to know you.
Getting to know you.

I get that sometimes the customer is not right. But that doesn’t mean we should just ignore what they are asking, or discard it as some sort of psychotic ranting.

You could say any number of clichés here: glass houses, mile in their shoes, and on and on. The point is, just because you might think you know all there is to know about a certain subject, it doesn’t mean you do. Furthermore, even if you are a so-called “expert” in your field, everyone can learn new things. Even my eight-year-old teaches me something new from time to time!

It’s high time to end the contempt for others and finally work as a greater team/company. Let’s ditch this “us against them” mentality. It’s bad for team dynamics, it’s bad for company morale, and, ultimately, it’s just bad for business.

by Pietro “Petey” von Tweety | Residential Life Magazine

If I Was in Charge, Things Would be Different

Everybody thinks things would be so much better if they were in charge. It’s so funny!

It’s like the other day, this kid didn’t like how long he had to wait in the lunch line, ‘cause he only wanted a cookie, or whatever, and he goes off on this whole thing about how there should be two lines: one for people who want a full lunch and another one for people who only want little stuff. It all comes from the same line!

No one cares.
No one cares.

Eventually, he started swearing and just took off. He was so mad! Kind of weird for a guy who wanted a cookie… 😮

Anyways, it got me to thinking about how people don’t really like to work together, even if they say they do. It’s like last month, when I was on this group science project. Everybody did their own work by themselves, and then we tried to put it all together, but it didn’t work out in the end. We got a B on it, which I guess is okay, but maybe if we had just been able to do our own assignments, we could have each done better.

But even the President doesn’t like to work with other people! I’m not huge into politics, but sometimes I get forced to watch “important stuff” like the State of the Union, or whatever. That’s what happened a few months ago when my parents said I had to watch it. I also had a report on it that week, but that’s not the point…

So, yeah, it’s like the President has all these ideas n’ stuff, but he can’t do them all, ‘cause there is always someone there to say “I think that’s stupid” or something, and then he has to come up with a new plan. I’ll bet he’d like it if he could just come up with stuff and make it happen.

My dad keeps talking about teamwork and how important it is. I mean, I get it! The cheer squad has to work together “as one unit” as the coach says, but it doesn’t mean we have to give up our own individuality.

Then my dad starts on this whole “That’s how it works in the real world” thing, talking about business and office politics and anything else. I usually just zone out at that point. 😉

But anyways, I get the whole ‘team’ thing, but I think sometimes it’s good to also just do stuff on your own. I mean completely on your own. Group activity should be reserved for social stuff, not actual work.

Then you don’t have to worry about someone not liking your idea, or whatever, and the whole project takes sooo much longer than it needs to! I’m just thinking about efficiency here! 🙂


by Chelsea Abrahams | Residential Life Magazine

On the Chopping Block

Dear Suri, Most everyone at my workplace has their own office, but no one usually closes the door. When that happens, conversations echo through the hallway, and can be clearly heard from every office.

I bring this up, because the other day I heard my boss talking on the phone with a partner from another location. It sounded like they were talking about a possible downsizing. I know this is happening across the country, but I didn’t think it would happen here!

Now I don’t know what to do. The call was around lunchtime, so I’m not sure who else was in their office to overhear it like I did. I don’t want to bring something up if they didn’t hear it!

Still, I can’t get it out of my head. It’s killing me! I don’t know how much longer I’m going to be here, and I just wish someone would give me some answers already. — Nervous in Nashville

Dear Nervous, You are likely projecting to others your fear of facing a layoff. This can result in a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Few people enjoy change, and I’ve yet to meet someone who wouldn’t blink at the possibility of losing their job. However, you must do your best to put at the back of your mind the conversation you overheard.

It is very possible that the concerns you’ve expressed do not reflect the reality of the situation. Until you discover otherwise, why put yourself through (possibly undue) stress? Simply do the very best job you can, but also keep abreast of other opportunities in your field.

You cannot change whatever the outcome of that call may be, but you can change how you react to the news, once it is finally made known to you, and you can certainly control how you choose to conduct yourself in the meantime. Chin up! ~ Suri __________________________________________________________

Suri Says™

by Suri Syrtauwnya | Advice | Residential Life Magazine