From office politics to office niggles

Magenta took several metaphorical slaps on the wrist last week in an email from the landlord of our building. At 12.23pm on Monday (of all days) the dreaded email pinged into the inboxes of everyone we share our lovely Victorian building in central Brighton with. Subject: HOUSEKEEPING. You know you’re in for it when caps are bandied about. And in for it we all were … The front door has on numerous occasional been left ajar thereby risking everyone’s security. Slap. The kitchen is a mess. Slap. You are all stealing each other’s milk. Slap. And, last but least of all, you are leaving the CLEAN bloody dishwasher full when it takes all over 30 seconds to empty it as the kettle boils for your first cup of coffee of the morning. SLAP!

Actually, I’m paraphrasing. The email was worded politely, included at least two pleases and one thank you, and contained no swear words. But it got Cathy and I thinking about the joys of office life and how even when you’ve decamped from working for various big organisations in London to a cute office in a shared building almost on the seafront in Brighton, you can’t escape office politics or at the very least office niggles. Why? Because people are people. Wonderful, talented, fabulous, ambitious, great, entertaining, marvelous, kind, superb, but ultimately, at times, supremely annoying.

Magenta’s pet peeve is the non-emptying (a real word) of the dishwasher. Most mornings Cathy and I, being such angels, empty it despite the delectable smell of others’ coffees wafting around the building. To my suggestion that we adopt their same policy of blissfully ignoring it, Cathy showed why she’s boss. The woman has supreme moral judgment: “But then that would make us just as bad,” she said. “Yes. And?” I replied. But since the boss is always right, even when she’s totally wrong, we’ve continued to empty it, and no doubt we will forever more.

As for the milk, well, oops. When we moved in, the landlord said we could help ourselves to the communal tea and coffee. So presumably the milk in the fridge is communal too, right? Wrong. For three weeks we unwittingly drank some poor guy’s milk until Cathy was caught by said guy red handed (and red faced). But a few weeks later, true to the phrase ‘what goes around comes around’, someone started drinking ours, so now we don’t feel so guilty.

So here’s what I’ve learned this week about office life: people act in crazy annoying ways at times, but it’s nothing personal. Write your name on your carton of milk and then get on merrily with your day. No point, after all, crying over stolen milk.

So what’s your pet office peeve? And how do you cope with it? As always we’d love to hear from you.

Cathy Hayward

2 thoughts on “From office politics to office niggles”

  1. Straight black coffee all round. It’s the only answer. Although herbal tea is a viable alternative for those who don’t crave the caffeine. A previous workplace of mine provided all tea, coffee, milk and sugar for staff. Then one day the boss decided to end this particular perk so a group of us began our own ‘club’ , buying supplies from a kitty we ran ourselves. It’s standard practice in many places and all went swimmingly for a few weeks, until we discovered the flaw in the boss’s economising. As there was now no ‘central supply’ of tea and coffee, the boss had been regularly helping himself to our stash whenever he had visitors to take care of. Outrageous. Thankfully, the shame prompted him to reinstate the free supply. Victory for the workers!

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