The 10 Co-Workers You'll Meet (and Hate)

August 4, 2009

Unemployment in America is at nearly 10 percent.  But depending on who you work with, they might be the lucky ones.

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By Dan Seitz

10. The Time-Sink


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It’s not that the Time-Sink means badly, or is stupid.  Okay, that’s not true at all.  He is stupid.  He’ll plod his way through the simplest tasks, usually asking you to “help out” with this whole “sending email” “problem.”  How did this guy ever get hired?  If he has the same last name as your boss, and he probably will, that might have something to do with it.

Thwarting the Time-Sink is pretty easy, at least.  People like him are why we have meetings.  Just fill his day with meetings, and never be near him unless you’ve got one coming up in 15.  Unlike a black hole, you can break his gravitational hold.

9. The Cube DJ


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Everybody loves the Internet.  It fills in the 35 hours a week that nobody actually has any work to do while making you all look busy.  And we also love Internet streaming of radio stations, as it means we can finally have a station that plays nothing but death metal folk music if we feel like it.  Unfortunately, it also means the rise of the Cube DJ.

The motives of this guy are wide and varied.  Maybe in his private life he still thinks his band will take off someday and drag him out of this dead-end job.  Maybe he just likes to lord his taste in music over all the plebians who dare, dare to listen to Top 40.  Or even worse, he’s a Top 40 fan who just loves being able to tune in Mix 98.9 (slogan: "We Only Play the Same Twenty Number One Hits!  Hope You Like Bon Jovi!") at his desk.

Either way, he won’t be wearing headphones, so as to inflict his musical taste on as many people as possible.  If the radio station plays “Sexyback” once an hour, on the hour, or goes on a Death Cab For Cutie marathon, he’s going to make you sit there and bleed out your ears.  Until you figure out a way to destroy his speakers, anyway.  Or have him transferred next to the TMI Bomb.

8. The TMI Bomb


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Time was, believe it or not, if people wanted to talk to their friends, they had to use the work phone.  This had all sorts of problems, namely getting caught.

But not anymore!  Not with cell phones!  Now he can talk to anyone he wants, any time he wants, about any subject he wants and it’s on his own dime!  And the subjects he wants to talk about?

Two topics: his medical problems, which are invariably disgusting, and his sex life, which is invariably even more disgusting.  Usually this will be during lunch, phone calls with clients, and any time your girlfriend visits.  Bring earplugs.

7. The Husband-Hunter


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Not everybody’s gotten the whole “independent woman” memo.  Of course, finding a guy who’ll actually fall for that crap is pretty hard to do, especially since the days of one income supporting a whole family kind of passed about 30 years ago.  None of this, however, stops the Husband-Hunter. 

No matter what she’s supposed to be doing, she thinks her job is finding a husband to take her away from all this drab “employment” and into a drab suburb where she doesn’t have to deal with TPS reports or org charts.  So she’s constantly on dating sites, and constantly pestering you to introduce her to “nice men” or complaining about the total lack of “nice men” out there.  Just pray she never dates the TMI Bomb, because then you’ll have unwilling knowledge of her sexual tastes to go along with your unwilling knowledge of her dating life.

6. The Bitter Divorcee


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On the flip side, you’ve got the Bitter Divorcee.  To be fair, this woman’s usually gotten the short end of the stick somehow.  Maybe she has to work two jobs to support her kids.  Maybe her ex-husband’s a huge jerk.  But no matter what’s happened, she’s got exactly one topic of conversation: how much being divorced sucks.

If she’s talking about dating, she’s talking about how all the single men her age are creeps.  Her ex-husband?  That’s good for about five hours.  Dealing with kids?  That’s good for eight.  And you can’t just walk away, either, because you don’t want to insult her.  So pair her with the Time Sink.  At least the slow guy will be nice to her.

5. The Lurker In The Stall


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Maybe you’ve spoken to the Lurker on the phone.  Maybe you’ve gotten an email from him.  But you’ve never met him, because his desk is just a storage space.  His real office has a door that swishes closed and a big sign on it saying MEN.

We’re not saying BlackBerries are a bad thing, but this guy takes it beyond all reason and sense.  Most people view dropping the kids off at the pool as something to get done and leave.  But this guy?  This guy views it as an act that takes time...and care.  Something that should be eased out and savored.   All you ever see of him is his loafer-clad feet, with his pants pooled around his ankles and all you ever hear is the quiet clicking of the smartphone keyboard, or possibly the faint rustle of newspaper pages.  Maybe he grunts occasionally, or shifts when the lights shut off so they’ll turn back on.  But his face?  His true voice, divorced from the acoustics of a men’s room stall?  These will remain mysteries, possibly forever.

4. The Snack Pack


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It’s not unreasonable to have a snack at your desk.  You get hungry, you can’t leave your desk, so you have some pretzels or some mixed nuts in the drawer.

The Snack Pack?  He’s got everything.  He’s probably turned one of his desk drawers into a beer fridge.  Usually the Snack Park has a metabolism that’s through the roof, so he’s always hungrier than a vegan in Texas, but that doesn’t excuse his table manners.

If you work next to the Snack Pack, it’s like you have a man-sized gerbil the next cube over.  He constantly nibbles, and somehow, some way, he makes nibbling the loudest conceivable thing.  Even The Cube DJ on an Iron Maiden kick can’t drown this guy’s crunching, slurping maw as he horks down a seemingly unending supply of snack foods.  Your only hope is that he eats one too many Twinkies and magically transforms, through the power of constipation, into the Lurker In the Stall.

3. The Voice


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Here’s what really drives you crazy about the Voice.  He’s a nice person.  He’s a good coworker.  He’s really polite and a credit to the company.  He volunteers at homeless shelters.  He’s probably even saved puppies from a house fire.

But every time he opens his mouth, you cringe.  You feel your hand tighten involuntarily into a fist as your brain screams to punch him in the mouth and make that horrible, keening wail stop, for the love of God, stop.  And, of course, he’s constantly on the phone, getting the job done, talking to everyone he needs to, and making the entire office long for deafness.

2. The Twitching Ball of Rage


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Every office has one guy who hates his boss, his coworkers, his job, everything.  Every day, you find yourself checking to make sure he doesn’t have a gun holster somewhere on his body or a smell of some sort of homemade explosive.  Every now and then he says something he thinks is funny, like “Only the fear of jail keeps me from killing you all!”  Then he laughs, while you check to see just how much a bulletproof vest costs.

The eternal mystery of the Twitching Ball of Rage is why he’s never fired.  You never see him working.  Your boss doesn’t like him.  Possibly it’s because HR is terrified of conducting the exit interview until the purchase order on those vests goes through.  But on the bright side, if he’s on your project, he makes a great excuse.  There’s nothing quite like being absolutely terrified of your co-worker as a good explanation for why you missed deadline.

1. The Weasel


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The Weasel isn’t good at his job.  He lacks anything that might be detectable as charm.  He probably even looks like a weasel.  So why does he still have a job?  This guy has just one skill, a skill so finely honed and practiced it’s almost impossible to thwart: dodging blame.

In the workplace, this guy is so impossibly slick about passing the buck, you find yourself admiring him.  The project was late?  Well, he’d handled his end and passed it on to Bob, he just figured Bob was working hard and would talk to him if he needed any help.  The data was inaccurate?  Well, he’s sorry to hear that, but unfortunately setting the parameters wasn’t his responsibility, he just ran the report, maybe you should talk to Cherie about that.  Caught groping the boss’ sixteen-year-old daughter?  He’s terribly, terribly sorry, but in his defense, she has a really convincing fake ID.

To get rid of this guy, keep every email he sends you and then corner him when he tries to pass the buck onto you.  The Weasel counts on people not keeping a paper trail, and once that luck runs out, it’s Weasel-Stomping Day at the office.