For the past few months I have opened myself up to the world of the office environment, having never experienced this sort of bubble before (usually succumbing myself to either working with children or making coffee) I was apprehensive and intrigued about what I would learn from these new and unfamiliar surroundings.
The habitat of desks and mouse mats is a breeding ground for certain types of specimen. Bringing people into your life that are an immediate product of their environment, having slowly developed and blossomed amongst the years of being known as a desk number or extension code..... it's kind of like the creation kind of the orcs in Lord of the Rings, expect slightly better looking and a lot less fire.
In my personal opinion being stuck between the same four walls, 9-5, 5 days a week makes it only inevitable for strange things to start to happen to you. It even happened to me. After 3 months of having to work next to the same over dramatic, office gossip I found both myself and my actions going mad. At one point I even resorted to games of the mind, in one instance simply switching all of her belongings from one side of the desk to the other one evening I had to work late (you weren't allowed to touch anything on her side of the desk, even if it was company property) a simple, yet turns out highly effective method of annoyance. Walking in the next day to her toying between the theories of revolution from the cleaners or an obvious office poltergeist, I simply sat at my desk slowly smirking to myself, plotting my next scheme. I was a girl gone mad.
So looking back over my time I have decided to share my observations of the inhabitants I found within the den of 'the office, I feel this piece would be best read with the voice of David Attenborough in mind, so soft husky tones at the ready as we venture deep into the office jungle....
1. Officium Canem (The Office Bitch)
A common and feared species of the office land. This particular breed can usually be spotted on the phone, you think they are chatting business? Sure, they probably are.... your business that is. I once observed an OB discuss an intimate matter between herself and a colleague, once said colleague left the surrounding perimeter she immediately picked up the phone, quicker than she did the chocolate hobnobs when they came out at 11am, stamped in the extension of her partner in crime, and begun to sew her seeds of betrayal and cattiness. The astonishing method of survival for the OB? It is not one of camouflage, everyone appears to know who the OB is, however she is untouchable. She will be have been in the company for years and years, why? No one knows. Maybe it's because she knows too many secrets, maybe it's because everyone is scared of her, however she is the praying mantis of the office sphere so stay off her radar her, or at best distract her with a chocolate hobnob.
2. Officium Serpit (The Office Creep)
Now these being the most foul and discreet member of the tribe, whether it's a comment on how nice your dress looks or a compliment on your hair, beware the office creep. They have a clever method of hiding meaning within their conduct. A compliment on your dress is a compliment on your bum, a compliment on your hair is..... well I don't know what it is, however it is coming from a person 30 years your elder wearing trousers that are 2 sizes too small, and you shouldn't trust it. Maybe it's because I'm skeptical in people, or maybe it's because I accidentally misheard/listened at the door to my departments conversation once I had left the room. However, what I do know is a simple email titles 'Hey Gorgeous' is not cheeky, is not friendly, is not 'oh that's just what they're are like'.... it's NOT RIGHT. So if you are perhaps on the receiving end of something similar, or sat thinking to yourself 'hey I do that'..... then stop it. Stop it now.
3. Officium Generalis Nec Dux(The Office General - Not Quite - Major)
I'm pretty sure any large working environment will have one, a member of the pack who thinks they are that little bit more senior than they actually are. During my experience there was one particular specimen whom would stride into the office with power and purpose like no other. It was their powerful strides, their domineering tone, their unhealthy and altogether worrying consumption of diet coke, and their ability to instill fear within every fibre of my being with a simple glance, was what lead to me to believe that they were something of a higher statue, the leader of us all.... well, they was that persons assistant. Turns out the powerful strides and forceful tone were just an outcome of their training from battling against the elements in the Starbucks queue that morning, determined to get her bosses extra strong, extra hot, soya latte. Once I had learnt this, instead of becoming terrified of the little red exclamation marks that popped up next to their emails, they just became irritating... some strangely making it to my junk folder.
4. Officium Occupatus Corporis (The Office Busy Body)
Now, a very loose meaning of the term busy body - because upon close inspection you would come to the realization that they managed to busy themselves with sweet FA. Constantly walking around with what appears to be purpose and destination - however what are they actually doing that requires them to be out of their seats every 25 minutes? Constantly coming up to you expressing how busy they are, how much they have to do and how they have NO idea how they are going to find the time to get it all done yet they still seem to find the time to manage coming over to you and wasting your time (in which you are also pretending to work, whilst either looking through twitter or playing on flappy bird) and when you ask what it is they exactly have to do, they simply reply 'Oh don't get me started'.... because they have nothing to start on.
5. Officium Ridiculus (The Office Joker)
Whether they are switching round possessions on their co workers desk, or sending out typed up admin to their boss in size 32 font because they once made a sarcastic remark on how 'you don't need to highlight words in bold because their eyesight works perfectly well'. The office joker probably isn't actually a funny person, they have just been slowly driven insane from the corporate grassland they have been immersed into. The best way to deal with the office joker is to just indulge them. Laugh at their practical jokes even if you don't really get it, even pity them them if you have to. All they want is your chuckles and recognition, to make up for the tiny pieces of their soul that has slowly been chipped away at either by the office bitch or the office creep.
Even though this is a rather over exaggerated representation of office characters, I hope you can seek some truth within it. A large office environment I feel can be the making or breaking of some people, having to come to terms with dealing with people of extremely different natures on a regular basis. It's how we do or don't let it get to us that helps mould our being. If you do find it a tough one to cope with, all I can suggest is pretending like you are the David Attenborough of the corporate realm, and tracking what species you can hunt down out there on the work life savanna, or better still figure out which pack you are a part of......