The Ruminator

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Sunday, May 11, 2003

The sins of the office

I opened my e-mail this morning and started thinking about the many sins of the office. I'm not talking about the big ones, like sexual harassment or embezzlement. I mean those little things that drive everybody crazy but which happen every day. In this case it was the person who decides to hit 'reply all' to an all-staff e-mail. Although there are only a dozen people in the Canberra office of my organisation, there are thousands of staff members around the world, all on the same e-mail system. So every time there is an all-staff e-mail you are sure to get flooded with replies from people you have never heard of, talking to someone else you have never heard of. What is worse is when people have set the automated reply function to 'reply all'. Thousands of people then get an e-mail from somebody in an obscure corner of the globe saying, 'I am on leave right now. Please contact . . .' Sometimes a whole chain reaction of auto responses is set off.

Among the many other office sins committed daily is included:
- Using ALL CAPS in e-mail. Because everyone loves being shouted at.
- Using the last of the milk and not replacing it.
- Stealing a colleague’s tea or coffee stash.
- Using a colleague's special coffee cup.
- Stealing a colleague's pen. The one that doesn't leave ink blots and hasn't been chewed in frustration.
- Taking credit for somebody else's work.
- Taking all the chocolate biscuits and leaving the boring ones for everybody else.
- Volunteering someone else for all the really shit jobs.
- Inflicting holiday/baby photos on clearly uninterested and busy colleagues.
- Having loud personal phone calls, particularly involving lurid or suggestive material.

There are many others of course, and some people seem to invent new ones every day. Now we just need a vengeful office god to smite sinners for such crimes against colleagues. (And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger . . .) Because without consequences, people just don’t learn. I may just have a calling to be the instrument of retribution.