How to Avoid Those Useless Work Meetings Once and for All
You’re at the point where you don’t suspect the workday can get any worse—you’re near exhaustion and feeling nauseous from overexposure to your coworker’s perfume that reeks like burning skin. Then, like being throat punched immediately after falling ass-first into an seat-up, Burger King shitter, your boss makes the day exponentially worse by announcing an unplanned, mandatory, two-hour staff meeting this afternoon.
Now, it’s difficult to pinpoint exactly how soon after you started that you realized these meetings were useless. It could have been the two-hour seminar on prevention and treatment of stapler-related injuries. It could have been during one of the countless corporate interventions occurring after Janitor Jerry told one of his racial epitaphs with no punch line delivered in a jovial tone that he refers to as a “joke”. Regardless, during these meeting you can actually feel your bones weakening, your midsection becoming more objectionable, and your life force steadily draining as you try to stay awake for a belabored presentation on diversity and synergy. You debate giving yourself food poisoning from that combination gas-station-Indian restaurant down the street, but then you recall a guiding principle from elementary school that could get you out of these forever.
Guiding Principle: Nobody wants to spend time with the super fucking weird kid.
We don’t mean the dudes who were into nerdy habits and only hung out with each other. No, we’re talking about the kid who smelled like rust, wore the same mono-tone sweat suit three days per week, and would turn in homework written in his made-up language. The kid isn’t mentally impaired; he’s just the type that wears capes, eats lunches centered around Go-Gurt, and is avoided by everyone including teachers and administrators. Your challenge is to transform yourself from the lethargic twenty-something that everyone tolerates into the dude with and detestably obnoxious habits, odors, and mannerisms. Being revoltingly abhorrent within the technical parameters of the company rules are your ticket to being personally asked not to attend any work parties, retreats, or seminars.
You want to hit that magic number: weird enough for people not to want you around, but not threatening enough or sexual enough for your to be fired. After all, you don’t mind your actual work; you just hate speaking to anyone there.
What that weird, future-serial-public-masturbator from high school did was to, either intentionally or unintentionally, create an aura and a personality that made people uncomfortable. It’s as easy as peppering in anecdotes like, “As I covered the fresh DiGiorno in a hearty glaze of ranch dressing and Doritos, I looked at my bracelet and lamented, ‘Yeah, I bet Jesus would do this too.’” Preferably, crack a gem like this off while screaming over everyone while you gargle a mouthful of saltines, the ol’ reliable Go-Gurt, or really any food that can be easily spewn into a filthy, sticky fog over the conference table.
If they’re not disgusted with your life, commentate on theirs. If they bring up yet another story about their children, reply with a simple, stoic, “Your kids aren’t too smart are they? Not the nicest to look at either, if I do say so.” You’ll see how awkward they become when they’re trying to avoid any quips from their arsenal of time-wasting stories about their kids. If they’re childless, either because they’re smart or barren, then just interject yourself other ways. Memorize their bathroom schedule when they’re at work—no one has a response when they’re asked, “Hey, it’s almost ten; the 9:30 Chocolate Fiber Express is running a little tardy today, eh?” It’s unlikely your office has any policies prohibiting general weirdness, so if you’re ever called into question just calmly point out that nothing you were doing was a fire-able offense and bask in the delight of being technically correct.
Much like in a court of law, if all else fails just play dumb and refuse to take any meeting seriously. Say your boss asks for ten ideas to make the office greener. You then you turn in a list with six ideas all involving illegal Guatemalan slaves generating electricity on stationary bikes. Maybe he’s making a push for more ethnic diversity in the workplace and you see this as your chance to start campaigning for a return of Taco Tuesday. If you do a job badly enough you won’t get asked to do it again; why, just ask Gerald Ford.
[Man asleep in meeting image via ShutterStock]