July 11, 2008

I’m Willing to Rat Out a Co-Worker

One of the liberating things about being in a new job, in a different business, is that I’m free to write about all the unusual anecdotes I built up during six years working in my previous job.

In my previous job, my primary responsibilities included writing and editing content for magazines catering to the information technology (IT) space, which you wouldn’t think would lend itself to unusual anecdotes. However, in the IT space, it’s the PEOPLE you encounter who really make for memorable anecdotes.

Take, for example, one of my co-workers who shared an office with me for about two years who, for the purposes of this anecdote, I’ll refer to as “Angela.” Angela was brought on as a managing editor for one of the magazines we produced, and while I had no real specific dislike for Angela, she did come equipped with the standard arsenal of annoyances you come to expect of office mates.

Among the annoyances I came to expect from Angela—in addition to regular nose blowing that sounded as if she was serenading whales—was her daily lunch ritual of “popping” baby carrots. OK, she didn’t actually “pop” baby carrots, but she had this process by which she’d bite a carrot in two in the loudest possible way imaginable, so it sounded like the carrots were essentially “popping.” There’s no real way I can convey how annoying this was for me in mere written words; suffice it to say, I believe there’s a circle of hell dedicated to carrot poppers, so consider yourselves warned, oh ye carrot poppers of the world.

Petty annoyances aside, Angela was by all accounts a generally decent person, although she was fairly weird in many respects, not the least of which was her near-religious devotion to animals. And I’m not just talking about dogs and cats here, although she certainly had those; Angela loved, and kept, all manner of animals, including hamsters, snakes, birds, and a whole slew of other exotic creatures Noah probably even forgot to include in his ark.

Well, one day, towards the end of Angela’s stint as a managing editor, another co-worker dropped by our office. I’ll refer to her as “Caroline,” because her name is “Caroline,” and she knew I’d simply have to write about this some day. Well, Caroline dropped by the office to discuss something with Angela and, since I wasn’t part of the conversation, I drifted off into my own little world, thinking about things I enjoyed thinking about, such as Salma Hayek.

Eventually, I drifted back to the real world, and I realized Caroline was trying to urgently tell me something under her breath, so I decided to listen to what she had to say.

“Dude, there’s a rat in your office!” Caroline hissed.

I did my best to digest this statement, but since it didn’t make any sense, my mind decided to conclude that Caroline was in some way referring to Angela, so I simply nodded and smiled and said “I know,” which earned me a surprised and somewhat horrified look from Caroline, who said, “But. . . there’s a rat. . . in your office,” to which I once again simply nodded and said “I know,” even though I had no idea what Caroline was talking about. With a defeated look, Caroline just shook her head and left the office.

I spent a few minutes after that, responding to e-mail, researching an article, thinking some more about Salma Hayek, and basically attending to my work day as usual.

And then I realized I heard something rustling over my left shoulder.

I turned slowly in my chair, kind of like in a movie when the main character realizes the bad guy, or a ghost, is standing right behind him, and in my head echoed Caroline’s last warning to me: “But. . . there’s a rat. . . in your office.”

There, indeed, on Angela’s desk, in an open air box filled with strips of newspaper and a little dish of water, was a huge freaking white rat with pinkish-ringed eyes, its front claws perched on the side of its box, its nose testing the air, no doubt assessing whether I was friend or foe.

I turned back to my computer and just kind of sat there for awhile, considering my next move. On the one hand, I wasn’t particularly worried about the rat, since it seemed more curious than threatening but, on the other hand, THERE WAS A FREAKING RAT IN MY OFFICE. Once you realize there’s a rat in your office, provided you’re not a veterinarian, there’s no way in Hades you can concentrate on actual work.

I pulled up an instant messaging box on my computer, via which I wrote to Caroline:

“Hey, there’s a rat in my office!”

To which Caroline responded, “I know! I tried to tell you!”

It turned out, Angela brought the rat to work that day because “it wasn’t feeling well.” Leaving aside my general incredulity regarding Angela’s rat diagnostic skills, the situation had nonetheless deteriorated from “there’s a rat in my office” to “there’s a possibly SICK RAT in my office.” Not to put too fine a point on it, but I’m pretty sure that’s how the “Black Plague” got off the ground.

Some frantic e-mailing to my supervisors ensued, in which I detailed the situation, and it was eventually delicately explained to Angela that bringing a rat into work very likely violated company policy. Although I never actually saw that exact clause for myself, I had no problem believing it at the time, and Angela was instructed to take her rat back home.

She still popped her carrots though; there was no policy against that, unfortunately.

Posted by Ryan at July 11, 2008 09:06 AM | TrackBack

The way those eff'ing carrot poppers manage to make so eff'ing much noise is because they lack the manners to close their eff'ing mouths when they eat their eff'ing baby carrots.

Step 1 - open mouth wide.

Step 2 - brace carrot between lower lip and upper teeth.

Step 3 - with loud crack, snap carrot in half, using echo in mouth and empty skull to generate loud popping noise.

Step 4 - (not mandatory, but almost universal) chew carrot piece at least twice before closing pie hole.

Then sanctimoniously look about, to ensure these 4 simple, intensely obnoxious steps, have the desired effect of letting everyone (including the deaf) in the building know that Cletus the slack jawed yokel is eating a healthy snack; baby eff'ing carrots, not something bad, like doughtnuts or chocolate.

Screw a ring of hell for them, that does me no good. How about a small room where we can jab knitting needles into their ears? That may result in some actual good, like drilling a little consideration into their selfish little skulls. Politely asking them to choose a quiet snack, or to eat it in the cafeteria sure as hell doesn't.

Posted by: AndrewInON at July 14, 2008 02:21 PM

Sorry. You hit a nerve there.

Posted by: AndrewInON at July 14, 2008 02:27 PM

No worries, Andrew. My old office mate also had a super annoying way of eating peaches, but that's a description for another day.

Posted by: Ryan at July 14, 2008 03:10 PM
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