What happens when a newbie uses the director’s coffee mug?
Answer: All hell breaks loose.
My friend, let’s call him Bill for the purposes of this story, recently started a new job. Unaware of office etiquette surrounding personal mugs and in dire need of caffeine, he reached in to the cupboard and took the closest mug on offer. Unfortunately for him the mug turned out to belong to a senior director, let’s call her Meg. Her fictional namesake is Meg the Hen from my son’s reading books and it seems to fit the profile. Meg is a little OCD. This use of her mug was regarded as an assault upon her person and her office. To say she was livid it no exaggeration.
Bill is a man. Obviously, who knows any women called Bill? Anyway, Bill being a man could not fathom how anyone could possible over react so monstrously to the use of a piece of crockery, it was not as though he has started wearing her underwear after all. At most in this situation you would expect the conversation to go as follow:
“You are using my mug!”
“Oh, I am so sorry, I didn’t realise, I won’t do it again.”
“Thank you, see that you don’t.”
And that would be the end of that.
Only in this case it wasn’t.
Meg, decided to escalate her displeasure at the abuse of her mug by one of the great unwashed (aka anyone else). She laid an official complaint with the powers that be of theft, misuse of personal property and a variety of other charges stemming from some deep insecurity that no-one respects her. It appears her fears have some roots. Some of other charges included being humiliated, having her authority questioned and so on. Bill was called in to explain his actions.
“I didn’t know it was her mug. It was my first day and I wanted some coffee. I said I was sorry.”
Shortly after this Ted appeared on the scene. Bill and Ted form a partnership much like that of their movie namesakes. Meg took one look at Ted and burst into tears blithering on about a conspiracy against her. She and Ted have a “history”. The relationship deteriorated further. Every day she laid another charge against the duo until it became more than a farce than at its inception.
Of course it was inevitable that Bill was going to strike back. This leads to an insight about the sexes. Women will rush in where angels fear to tread, whereas men prefer to strategise their assault. Bill began by making a cup of coffee in the mug each day and taking a picture of himself drinking from it. These make up quite a nice collage on his desk.
Then one bright and sunny morning Bill had had enough. He laid a charge of sexual harassment against Meg for stalking him, staring at his crotch and generally regarding him a sex object making him feel extremely uncomfortable. Now labour law takes these quite seriously and so Meg was called in to answer to these charges.
The following day while the office was gathered together in the cozy communal workspace, Bill left his zipper down. It didn’t reveal anything untoward, but a nice pair of natty Calvin Kleins. It is a fact universally acknowledged that no-one can help but stare at a zipper that is down. Women particularly as they wonder how to inform the person that their zipper is down while remaining innocent of staring at the offending body part.
Bill waited until Meg’s gaze was draw inexorably down, before exclaiming loudly to the office, “Look! This is what I mean. She’s doing it again! She’s staring at my crotch!” He followed up with a lovely metrosexual emotionally laden sniff and vacated the room. There was a moment of silence before laughter erupted led by the powers that be and a large round of applause.
The moral of the story is don’t go running to your boss to solve your petty coffee mug squabbles and never ever underestimate office politics. Also, if you think people don’t like you you’re probably right. Get over it. No everyone has to like you. God knows you probably don’t like everyone either.