Starting a new job has reminded me of all the critical lessons I have learned in former offices. For the sake of conserving time (working longer hours for someone else has cut into my creative time at home), let's just review the big three:
1. No poo in the office.
I never knew this was such a transgression, but apparently, in small offices where the restroom is located off the lobby, easing your bowels there may more noticeably perfume public areas. The first and only time I heard this rule was from one of my favorite managers so far, Ahmad, who in his slight Persian accent, would sing out, "No poo! There is no poo in the office!" One co-worker was so self-conscious about this that she would break into one of those deathly anus-clenching sweats trying to contain the urge as she ran out of the office to a gas station down the street. I grew so tired of watching what would one day be a catastrophic episode that I bought us each a bottle of some poo-be-gone product. You pump a few drops into the bowl before you go-- et voila! No trace of poo-scent. I still hear Ahmad in my head sometimes. He had other rules, such as no food at our desks, which I can understand, and no cold food at catered events, which I couldn't understand, but "No poo!" was my all-time favorite just because I loved hearing him say it.
2. Give the boss his space.
I worked for a man who was so tired of being bothered by staff during his lunch hour, that he would sit in the teacher lounge for his lunch and lock the teachers out--nevermind that the only grown-up potties were located in the teacher lounge and many of us were realllly reluctant to use the ones the middle schoolers were using. This guy did things like this to drive the point home, denying us privileges (or rights) when he felt we had overstepped various boundaries. His locking the lounge was done in conjunction with a lecture that he never bothered us on our lunch hour. I remember thinking about that during our first week of lock-down when he would locate me for work reasons during MY lunch time, but I was good and kept quiet about it. Needless to say, teachers quickly learned to give him private time at lunch, and ultimately we were allowed back into the breakroom.
3. Be punctual--but be reasonable about it.
A good friend of mine would get busted for this at a nanny job in the same way I once did years ago: Due to be back from lunch at 12:30 one day, I was yelled at for returning to my desk at... 12:32. No kidding. This man was such a control-freak that when he banned us from working over-time, I began to check into work fifteen minutes early and leave fifteen after the hour at the end of the day to accrue overtime discreetly. Very passive aggressive--but two and a half hours of overtime made a big difference in my little paycheck. He was a loathsome character who ran us into the ground. In the end, I got my revenge. I quit, turned him into his supervisor for his crazy behavior, and he was fired shortly thereafter. Years have passed, but I am still conscious to the minute about time at the office. Most of all though, I am conscious of crazy bosses.
Having a desk in an office building has reminded me of all the joys and pitfalls of working with others, but so far, my new office is a pleasant environment where I am, shockingly enough, valued. Adjusting to the fact that the rules aren't hard and fast in this new office is a bit of a shock, but I am acclimating. And as I gain more confidence in the new environment, and crawl out of my cubicle more, there will be stories to tell here. So far, what I do have to say about it is all good.
And we can poo. We can poo in the office.