Let’s face it, even at its best work can be a grind. Even if you don’t have to deal with a terrible boss who makes you fantasize Kill Bill-style about running wild through the office, you’re still stuck in a cubicle or boardroom all day, every day. It’s sort of like being in prison only with slightly less sodomy. And like prison, how much you can stand your job is probably largely dependent on your fellow prisoners AKA your coworkers. If you make some good friends and some allies then you can get through it all with your sanity intact. But chances are both your sanity and your will to live will be in real trouble if you end up surrounded by these, eight of the worst types of coworkers of them all.
This tiresome fool doesn’t understand boundaries at all and will spend all day yammering on, oblivious to any and all social cues, about everything from how much he hates hangnails to the size and texture of his latest bowel movement. The over-sharer loves nothing more than hearing himself talk, and it doesn’t matter who is actually listening. He’d tell his entire life story to that fern in the boss’s office or to the water cooler. And worst of all, his own lack of boundaries will cause him to not respect yours. When he’s not gibbering about his own life, he’ll be prying into yours, and in those rare moments when he’s not talking he’ll be taking things from your desk. It might seem cold-hearted, but the only way to stop this fool is to shut him down early and harshly. Your sanity demands it.
This jerk never really crosses the line, but that’s only because he has religiously read all your company’s materials on sexual harassment just he can know how much exactly he can get away with. This is another dude who doesn’t understand personal boundaries and at best he’ll make you feel uncomfortable and tense all the time. At worst, well… you don’t want to have to bring a can of pepper spray to work, but that’s how awful this asshole can be. I’m just saying, the ladies should be able to wear a skirt to work without having to worry about this dude leering at them like a 7th grader who just discovered boners. And if you’re not a lady, you don’t want this dude creating a creepy environment for everyone steeped in discomfort and suspicion. This is the guy who ruins it for everyone.
Sure, this doofus takes some of the heat off of you because he can’t do his job and ends up your boss’s favorite whipping boy, but the truth is, is that someone inevitably ends up having to pick up the slack for his ineptitude and chances are that someone will end up being you. One of the worst feelings in the world is getting ready to leave for the day or for the weekend only to be stopped by the boss and told that – surprise! – the day’s not over because you’ve got to salvage the mess that Jenkins made. Every office has one of these dudes and your best bet is to identify him quickly and then keep your distance. The last thing you want is to befriend and thus be associated with such colossal failure.
The suck-up is no fun to work with because you simply can’t trust him. It’s sort of like being in the mob and worrying that the guy next to you is always wearing a wire. You have to watch what you say because you know that this dude is just looking for something, anything, he can use to get on the boss’s good side. One day you’re making a harmless joke about the boss’s toupee and the next you’re scrubbing the toilet while the suck-up sits in your boss’s office and schmoozes. The only good thing about the suck-up is that everybody hates him and thinks he’s full of shit – including your boss.
The mother hen takes work seriously, like so seriously that she will scold anyone who dares to try to have a good time. She is essentially powerless, but that won’t stop her from acting like the self-appointed hall-monitor, making sure that everyone follows the rules and regulations. She values maturity above all else and is that person who spent her whole life wanting to be 45 years-old. She has no time for your shenanigans and if you don’t get your shit together she’ll have no choice but to talk to a supervisor or – gasp! – file a report. Just humor this soulless wretch the best you can and remember that deep down there is someone in there who actually wants to have fun. It’s just that she’s really, really scared.
This jerkoff doesn’t care that he’s no higher on the totem pole than you because deep down he feels like he’s better than everybody else. He’ll take time out of his oh so precious day to tell you all the things you should do differently and if you get annoyed he’ll just throw his hands up and say that he’s only trying to help. And if that’s not enough, his arrogant dismissal of anyone he perceives to be “below” him means that one of these days the poor kid who delivers your bagels will give him – and you – a nice surprise consisting of various bodily fluids. This dick will ruin your day and drag you down with him.
A particularly revolting sub-species of the suck-up family, the credit thief will let you do all the work and then swoop in when everything is all done and tell everyone that the whole thing was his idea. He’ll subtly undermine you at every turn, and plant little passive-aggressive seeds so that when the time comes everyone will think he’s a super-worker while all your pleas for truth and sanity will sound hollow and petty. He’s a master manipulator and he will not just irritate you to the point of possible violence, he will actively destroy your career. You have to hit back hard and fast against the credit thief. Maybe read some Sun-Tzu. After all, this is war.
The petty tyrant is the mother hen after getting just a little bit of meaningless power. Chances are your boss is just as sick of this tiresome fool as everyone else and will give them some meaningless yet symbolic responsibility just to shut them up. In turn, the petty tyrant will make your life hell. They will carefully note every pencil and paperclip you use. They will guard the supply closet key like Gollum guarding his ring. They will inspect your desk just to make sure that the amount of clutter is within some arbitrarily defined “standard” that they themselves created just because it gives them some pathetic sense of control. The petty tyrant will attempt to micromanage your life to the point of complete misery and there’s nothing you can really do about it because as far as your boss is concerned, at least he isn’t bugging him anymore. And that’s why the petty tyrant is the absolute worst.
(Previously published on August 19, 2013.)