I’m your textbook graduate. My alarm goes off at the asscrack of dawn each morning, I sit in traffic for forty minutes before becoming a cubicle creature for another nine hours, and end my day with re-runs of The Office and a homemade margarita. Rinse, wash, repeat. While I continue to chase the mythical creature known as “work-life balance,” I have realized that the handful of hobbies and relationships that I have in life are meant to be kept to myself in the office. That’s not to say I can’t mention to Brad from Human Resources something about the new BBQ joint downtown, or perhaps even congratulate Kevin from Accounting on his Alma Mater’s big win this weekend, but for the love of God, let’s remember the difference between a place of work and your home. We’ve reached a day in age where many of us have truly forgotten what is appropriate to discuss and what is not in a place of work.
I am incredibly disconnected from the social scene in my office, and I want to keep it that way. This is one of the many reasons I bring headphones to work, which has become more of a need than a want. Instead of hearing about Angela’s dog’s bowel issues or Tommy’s undefeated softball team for overweight men, I enjoy the best of Dave Matthews from 8:30-5:00 while crunching excel sheets and eating fruit snacks (I’m a man-child). With that being said, I’ve learned that headphones can only get you so far when morning meetings, “team lunches,” and conference calls force you to interact with your fellow cubicle warriors. While I would encourage all of my peers to leave most all of the details of their personal lives to their group texts and Twitter, these topics are those that I have observed to be the most common and obnoxious in the workplace.
This one is a classic. There are currently four girls in my office who are engaged. That’s right, four, all of whom are getting married in the next six months. The amount I hear about bridesmaids, venues, and honeymoon destinations is non-stop, not to mention these people’s cubes are filled with your generic engagement pictures that involve lying together in a pile of leaves or in the sand behind some shitty motel in Myrtle Beach.
Then you’ve got Gary. Gary is the resident divorcee (times three, to be particular) whose life goal is to mention one of his ex wives every chance he gets, leading to an awkward silence every time. “Oh, you’re a Chiefs fan? My ex-wife Terri was a Chiefs fan, we went to games together before the divorce.” I get it Gary, you’re a borderline depressed, likely alcoholic baby boomer who loves to gain sympathy by whatever means possible. But for Christ’s sake, let’s just talk about the weather or the traffic on I-66 next time we’re both waiting by the printer. Nobody, I repeat nobody, wants to hear jack shit about your likely basic, uninspiring relationship with your soul mate you met on Tinder in between music festivals.
My Dad always taught me growing up that you’re not supposed to talk politics or religion in the workplace, but apparently 90 percent of Americans missed the memo. To be honest, I’m a pretty politically active dude. I was a state chair for the College Republicans my senior year, I’m working on my Masters in government related discipline, and I plan on naming my first child after my favorite President. With all that being said, I guarantee that my coworkers couldn’t give two shits about my political views, and I make an effort to keep my opinions on controversial issues to myself.
Despite my personal attempt at self-awareness, every office has its typical cast of political characters. You’ve got Devin from Accounting who’s “Feeling the Bern,” Greg in Sales who has a picture of himself with Ron Paul hanging in his cube, and of course, Nancy, the resident feminist who already has a freshly minted “Ready For Hillary” magnet in between her CoExist and Planned Parenthood stickers. In this case, the age old “opinions are like assholes” saying stands, keep the water cooler talk to sports and the weather, not abortion and gun control.
Talking finances is just plain awkward. I get it, times are tough, you’ve got bills out the ass and you’re hoping that you’ll be able eat something other than ramen once rent is covered. With that being said, there’s something that will always be tacky about discussing finances amongst coworkers, especially considering your complaining about money in the place you’re making it, no matter how little.
We’ve got one individual in our office who stopped by my cubicle residence at lunch the other day just to proudly inform me that she had opened her first retirement account, apparently unaware of the mandatory 401k we have deducted from our checks each pay period. Then there’s Tommy from IT who consistently humble brags about his “killer” new bachelor pad down on the bay made possible due to his recent promotion. Well Brad, you’re still likely a virgin, overweight, and like most in the IT field, possess the social skills of a picket fence.
I’ll probably catch some heat for this one. I love reliving college stories and reflecting on old times. Hell, most of my university peers still know me as “Captain Ahab” following a series of drunken decisions at a fraternity mixer my pledge semester. Our college experience is something we should all (hopefully) look back at with fond memories, but like always, there’s a time and a place. The CEO of your company isn’t going to take your seriously when he hears you and Brad swapping one-night stand stories from the frat castle way back when 43 was still in office. Relive those glory days, but know the setting in which to do so.
There are a lot of people I know to be guilty of this one. If you have a legitimate health issue that prevents you from getting your work done in a timely manner, I get it. Stuff happens, but for the love of God, don’t be that person who feels the need to broadcast every little minor inconsistency in your health that comes up. I’ve got one gentleman I used to work with who was particularly vocal about the effects that his morning coffee had on his digestive system (this one doesn’t take rocket science) and made backhanded comments about his constant constipation issues. The last thing I want to hear when I’m addressing my 12th straight Monday morning email with the typical, soul-sucking “Thanks for reaching out!” is the obese baby boomer behind me proclaiming the details of his most recent poop. Cut the crap, guys. .
Image via Shutterstock