Bloomin’ Onions

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPeople who eat aggressively fragrant food (think fish, burnt popcorn, fried monkey) in a closed area (think office, airplane, jail cell, or anywhere with limited ventilation) are the absolute worst. Like I put them up there with war criminals, Carrot Top, and people who drive under the speed limit in the left lane. Subjecting your officemates to this kind of  brutality is inconsiderate at best, grounds for immediate dismissal at worst.

Several times this month someone has brought something infested with raw onions from the building cafeteria into our shared workspace. Its invisible and odiferous cloud instantaneously suffocates all of the breathable air in the suite. It spreads faster than a prairie fire, and before you can take cover or react, the noxious fog kicks in the door to your sinuses, bitch slaps them into submission, and threatens to take over your very soul.

And like a tree-hugging dreadlocked second cousin (or confederate-flag wearing step-brother – choose a metaphor based on your political persuasion) at a wedding reception with an open bar, not only is it offensive, but it lingers for hours. Short of a full-on biohazard suit, there is no escaping it. Today I tried to ward off the smell by liberally spraying Static-Guard (a necessary evil here in the Sahara-dry northern winter) over the wall and around my desk, hoping the onion-eater would take note. It masked the smell for about a minute, and then it was back, again relentlessly assaulting my senses.

Thankfully I had to leave early to work from home for the rest of the afternoon so I could give David a ride to his job at Papa Murphy’s, where onions are a given. I’m not sure how to go about preventing this from happening again. I could take the classic Minnesota passive-aggressive route, which would entail posting a sign in the break room or leaving an anonymous note on the reprobate’s desk (i.e. “Your onions are hurting everyone around you.”) Or start a petition to ban onions from the cafeteria, which would negatively affect those who eat onions responsibly.

What I fantasized about today was walking over, taking the plate from the person’s hand, dramatically stuffing it into the trash can, and emptying an entire fire extinguisher on top of it.

Would that be wrong?

© Jennifer Alys Windholz  2016


Wormy Power Bars And Other Office Stories

For some reason today I’ve been thinking about some of the more ridiculous things from my days as a corporate manager at a major healthcare organization. Maybe I miss the drama and intrigue and sheer monotony of the office, I don’t know. I haven’t written extensively about my experiences at work. It’s a gold mine of stories, so I’m not sure why not. Here’s just a little stroll down memory lane.

  • There was the time they did a huge kickoff for the new company wellness program with a big health fair in the cafeteria where you could have your blood pressure and other readings checked, get information on gyms, weight loss programs, disease management, healthy eating, and all that good stuff. We were given a bottle of water and a protein bar on our way out. As I got back to my desk, reports, both virtual and live, from across the office started trickling in. The bars were full of meal worms! Thankfully I hadn’t opened mine, and I immediately tossed it in the garbage. Soon an email from Human Capital went out, apologizing for the worm-infested energy bars, with a promise of a replacement bar. I don’t recall it ever being replaced.
  • After a new instant messaging system was implemented, one that had a menu of little emoticons, my co-workers and I quickly learned that these were more effective than words in expressing the idiocy of people on a conference call. I’ll never forget the day my friend, in mocking a particular person leading a call, first sent me what became commonplace in our visual vernacular. “He can (party hat-clad smiley face blowing a noisemaker in and out of its mouth) my (soccer ball) (soccer ball).” Interpret that as you wish. As I snorted at his vulgar comment, which I entirely agreed with, I couldn’t reach the mute button fast enough.
  • In one of our many space rearrangements (I think in my almost ten years there, I sat in no fewer than ten different cubes), our department was moved into an area occupied by a team of entry-level customer service type folks, who were, let’s say, unprofessional at best. Somehow I drew the lucky straw and was assigned to the desk used by this creepier-than-hell guy who had a gut the size of a woman in her 15th month of pregnancy, with a protruding hernia that showed through his not-long-enough shirts. This man ate a bag of store-brand Doritos and two 2-liter bottles of Cola every day. His manager once suspected him of surfing and sending crude messages on dating sites during work hours, and he was rumored to have been caught in the bathroom doing…things. Yet it took months and months before he could be fired. Last I heard of him he’d been arrested in Hennepin County for stabbing his mother. Anyway, my point is, I had to move into this deviate’s cubicle, which he of course didn’t clean before vacating. I came in to desk drawers full of chip crumbs, hair (yes, wtf???), and other substances and stains that make my hair stand on end just thinking about. I left the office to run to Target to buy a jumbo package of Clorox wipes and Lysol, raided the first-aid kit for latex gloves, and used an entire can of desk cleaner and one of those pressurized air things to clean out all the crevices. And I still never felt comfortable there.
  • I still giggle when I think of a financial underwriter who worked with the Texas market, and a sales rep sent him an “I ❤ AUSTIN” bumper sticker, which he proudly hung on his wall, only to have his co-workers print out large text banners to put above and below it so it read: I ❤
  • There was the business trip to Tampa when my boss and I looked on in horror as an employee we were traveling with got completely shit-faced at a happy hour with the sales team and messily threw herself at a sales executive. While the two of us tried to talk business with our VP of sales, she licked the guy’s face. Awkward. Pictures of that survive to this day.
  • The day my favorite ridiculously annoying in an entertaining way account executive called me to ask if I would underwrite a group of “traveling circus people and gypsies” who didn’t really live in one particular state. He couldn’t understand my answer of not just no, but hell no.

Ah the memories. Some days I miss my old friends.

© Jennifer Alys Windholz, 2013