Nate's Work Place Survival Guide Coworkers and Ants
Coworkers and Bosses 2: Clash of the Titans
You may recall the last article in which I compared coworkers and bosses to a colony of ants. This is the most appropriate comparison I can come up with because like many of the coworkers and bosses I've had in my life, I absolutely hate ants.
Oh I appreciate life. I understand the place that ants have in our ecosystem and I would hate to lose them as a valuable asset to our planet. Much in the same way that while I would hate to lose certain coworkers I also don't want them getting into my food, coming into my house, and crawling all over me in the middle of the night.
But lets take the ant metaphor one step further. When I'm in my own house, I'm in charge. Nothing invades my home and forces me to rearrange my schedule. When I go outside, however, the rules change. If have a picnic in the park, I have to deal with the ants coming to my site, getting into my food and possibly biting me. It's a pain in the ass but I have to deal with them. Keeping my sanity, the ability to make money and live in a warm house where I have food and some things to enjoy, all depends on my ability to tolerate the ants in the environment where I must meet them.
Okay. Enough ants.
Do you get my point? Well for those of you who aren't big on metaphors I'll break it down for you: No matter how much your coworkers annoy or disgust you you still have to deal with them. And you may be able to smack one or two of them, but it won't help your situation in the long run.
If you've had work experience in the past then you've probably dealt with some annoying coworkers. On the other hand maybe you have been annoying to other people and you just didn't know it. And so in the interests of fairness I present to you a list of the things that coworkers have done to irritate me, including some of the things I've done to annoy them.
Returing the Favor
The first big pain I have with coworkers from every place I have worked is the apparent inability to return favors.
In addition to working the electronics department at K-mart I also have to cover the fitting rooms on occasion, since the fashion department is right next to electronics. All I really have to do is let people in when they want to try on clothes and I only have to do this when the person working in fashions takes a break or needs to use the restroom.
Now, unfortunately, because of the high risk involved with everything in the electronics department, I can't leave to use the restroom unless someone covers me. This can be a hassle because the fashions associate isn't always in the building or in plain site and even when there are other people to page they don't always show up.
But the worse example of this was a few days ago when I asked one of the floor associates to cover me for a second.
“Oh well, I guess so,” she responded, flustered. “I just hope no one calls me while you're away.”
It would have taken me five minutes to use the bathroom and get back, but she made it sound like I was planning to cook a ten course dinner while I was away. Never mind that whenever I leave electronics while customers are there the odds of something getting stolen are increased. But if the associate covering fashions asks me to cover her I need to do it without complaining.
In the airport we are given special ID badges. You hold the badge over the keypad and when it gives you a green light you key in your four digit number that airport security issues along with your badge.
When you follow someone into a secure area without entering your number in it is called "Piggy Backing" and the TSA does not allow this.
Pots and Kettles
There was a guy who worked at the airport as a detailer. During the first couple of weeks I got along fine with him but there were minor things that were starting to annoy me about him.
He would piggy back* into secure areas. He would do a half-ass job on the plane, leaving garbage in the seats and full air sickness bags. We had to vacuum the carpet on the planes and if he was assigned to do it and the vacuum so much as sputtered he would declare it broken and wouldn't bother doing it.
Adrianne, one of the supervisors wrote him up for leaving a plane before she gave the go ahead and he refused to do anything she told him from then on out, saying that he “lost respect” for her. Not a smart move considering her husband was in charge of the ground crew during the day, but I digress.
One evening we were expecting the manager of the company that signed our paychecks. We were a subcontractor for US Airways and he was making sure we were doing our jobs correctly. I was so obsessed with making sure everything was cleaned that I missed arranging the seat belts on ONE of the seats. We're supposed to cross them before moving to the next seat. I missed ONE.
“Crawford!” Victor shouted from the back. I was in closer to the front of the plane.
“What?” I replied.
“You missed one!”
When I realized it was the seat belts not being crossed I shrugged. It was just one minor thing after all. But oh no, Victor had to take it up a notch because I was always so “tight on him”, whatever that meant.
It didn't help that the supervisor in charge, Larry, was Victor's drinking buddy off the clock. Larry sided with Victor so of course I was in the wrong. We'll go over morons in supervisory positions in the next article.
Not Handling Change Very Well
One my biggest challenges is dealing with small changes to my routine. Very early in I could not handle a schedule that had me closing at night and opening the next morning and I would complain to the manger in charge constantly.
If a new manager told me to do something that wasn't a part of my normal routine I would complain to anyone who would listen, even customers, which I know now was very unprofessional behavior.