You’ve probably had your share of mild frustrations with coworkers – the guy who takes all his calls on speaker phone, the woman who monopolizes meetings and makes them take twice as long as scheduled, and the other typical characters who show up in the majority of offices on a regular basis.
But when I recently asked readers to share some of the weirdest things they’ve seen coworkers do at work, we ended up with some stories far beyond routine coworker oddities. Here are the 10 most outrageous things you shared that you wish people would stop doing at work.
1. Living in your office
“The office I used to work in had a bedroom in it – fully furnished, with a bed and sheets and a dresser and side table (but no windows). At one point, the (very scary and extremely hated) manager was living in the office with his wife and their two dogs. She would walk around the office in her house robe and slippers, carrying one of those dogs. She’d page her husband over the loudspeaker to come to his office, where they’d proceed to argue very loudly for the whole office to hear.
When the HR manager tried to call the company insurance company to see how much of a liability it was to have an employee and his wife and dogs literally living in the office, the manager slapped the HR manager hard enough across the face to leave finger-shaped welts and give him whiplash. The manager was not fired or reprimanded in any way.”
2. Undressing in front of you
“My boss, the CEO, has changed in front of me, top to bottom but leaving his underwear on, twice during conversations. The second time I saw it coming and tried to back away, but he followed me because he still had more to say. He does this to everybody, it’s just more uncomfortable for me because I’m a woman and he’s a man and I don’t know where to look. For anyone thinking this is some form of sexual harassment, you have to take my word for it that it’s not – he’s simply the weirdest person I’ve ever known.”
3. Bathing in the showroom
“I worked with a guy who biked to work and felt the need to clean up before going to his office. We had a showroom with lots of plumbing displays, including whirlpools filled with water, working sinks, showers, and toilets. There was even a water heater since some of the displays featured temperature related features. They were set in mock-ups of real rooms, so full bathroom suites were set up in rooms that would look like a typical customer’s bathroom.
He got there a full hour or more before the showroom opened to the public, so he used one of the bathrooms for his morning routine. The kicker was that this wasn’t plumbed potable water. It was all connected to a re-circulator so that we didn’t have massive water bills from running the displays every day. He showered in his own filthy grey water for months before anyone caught onto what he was doing.”
4. Claiming to be your own twin
“At an old job, we had a temp who was fired. A few months later, when everyone from the team she worked on had moved to a new office, she came back as a temp on one of the teams left in the old office. After a couple days, the HR manager recognized her and let the team manager know. When he confronted her about it, she claimed to be the twin of the original temp. She couldn’t produce any identification, and it was obvious she was lying. She was fired, of course, but the woman who claimed to be her own twin sister became a company legend.”
5. Eating frozen meals, still frozen
“One of my coworkers eats a frozen meal for lunch every day. And I mean frozen. She doesn’t bother microwaving them. Even when the food in the tray still has a thin layer of ice on it, she will not heat it up. One time she broke the tines of her plastic fork trying to stab it through a vegetable that was frozen solid, but even that didn’t deter her. She kept eating, broken fork and all.”
6. Brushing your teeth at your desk
“I used to work in a cubicle across from a guy who brushed his teeth at his desk. He would go fill a coffee mug with water, then brush his teeth, dipping his toothbrush into the mug, and spitting into it. I was so shocked I couldn’t even say anything at all. I couldn’t figure why, since he was getting up to put water in his cup and then getting up to dump it out, couldn’t he just go in the bathroom to brush? I didn’t know him very well and wasn’t sure how to tell him to quit it because it was revolting.”
7. Aggressively promoting your self-published adult novel to your team
“One of my coworkers wrote and self-published a book. He actually gave out free copies to everyone in our department and all of management. I can ignore the quality of the writing of the book, but what I (and now the rest of the office) can’t ignore is that it is incredibly sexually explicit. It invents euphemisms that are as awkward as they are confusing while describing activities I would not normally advise discussing with your boss.
I hoped the book would become old news, but he is really promoting it. We’re talking emails about book-signing events, telling everyone about how it’s going to be turned into a TV show, a play and maybe a movie, and other things for which etiquette demands congratulations but everyone knows will never happen.”
8. Stripping down in the bathroom
“I used to work with a guy that did triathlons and biked 12 miles to work in the Texas heat. He’d wear his Lance Armstrong wear on the way to work, strip down in the staff bathroom, use a wash rag to take a bath in the sink and get dressed for work. He didn’t wear underwear under his bike stuff.”
9. 10 minutes of cat noises
“I have done some voice work for video games, which includes things like making 10 minutes of cat noises. My coworkers once spent half an hour hearing me trying to make noises for various deaths in response to instructions like, ‘okay now … like you’ve been stabbed in the stomach’ … ‘umm, can you give me a hit in the head with an axe noise?’”
10. And finally, one thing you wish your coworkers would start doing
“There was a thing at one of my offices called ‘breakfast club’ where groups of people brought in breakfast on Fridays. It started out simple, like donuts or quiche, but some groups took it pretty far. There was a manager in one of the groups that brought in a waffle iron, batter, fruit toppings and bacon for his weeks and set them up in the empty cube next to his desk. Breakfast burrito bars and crockpot oatmeal bars also made appearances. Then that empty cube got a blender and the people in that group started making smoothies regularly. I was just waiting to see what small appliance showed up next in that cube.”
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//Posted in Team & Project Management | Tagged office politics, personality conflicts