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Thursday, December 3, 2009

Weekly Writing Prompt: 12/3/09

Writing Prompt: Make a list of 5 behaviors/things/people that really annoy you at work (or at past jobs).

Here are some suggestions of things that could end up on that list: people eating stinky food at their desks that smells like warmed up dog food, loud phone talkers, irritating coworker behavior, etc.. Or if you have no beefs or work alone, make some items up!

Write whatever comes to mind about that one item for 10 minutes.

If you're concerned about trash talking about your job/coworkers, come up with a “code name.” Mine are “Happy Hugger” and “Toxic Teddy Bear Man.” You can also email your mini-story/rant to and ask for an anonymous post. We will treat everything as fiction (it could be a character from your book, ya know).

And there’s only one spot left in Aaron's class this Saturday! Email or call 323-333-2954 to snatch it up! Aaron will unveil this crazy amazing dialogue exercise that he hasn’t used in his long classes:

Comment on this blog! What comes to mind when you think, “this really annoys me at work (or annoyed me at a past job)?” Post a mini story or a sentence—it’s all good, Cookie! The best comment of December wins a free class!


Writing Pad said...
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H.M.R. said...

The Fist Bumper. Even though he technically worked a floor above the desk I sat at, he would go out of his way to swing ever day for a fist bump. He'd ask me how I was and then POUND my knuckles. It didn't matter if I was on the phone or if I was talking to my boss. If he saw me, he needed a bump. Was this flirting? Was this just general office comradeship? I had no idea, and I couldn't ask anyone else if he was doing it to them BECAUSE I DIDN'T KNOW HIS NAME! So day in and day out I fist bumped this nameless soul until I finally quit. RIP you knuckle bruising fool.

Writing Pad said...

Disclaimer: Any similarity to any person living or dead is merely coincidental.

Over the course of 20 years of various office jobs, I’d never worked with a serial hugger before. “Happy Hugger” changed that.

Every time she visited me in my cubicle, she swooped in for a hug. She squeezed me like a golden tomato at Gelson’s. I felt like I'd landed in the middle of that cartoon with the overly romantic French skunk, Pepe Le Pu.

Once, I had my hair in a mini-ponytail and was wearing a shiny silver necklace that looked like two interlocking circles. Before I even knew what was happening, “Happy Hugger” pounced on me. She shouted in a high pitched, anime style voice, “Marilyn, you look sooooo cute!” She reached out and flicked my ponytail with her claws. Then, she grabbed my necklace. I felt totally violated.

Didn’t she notice the hairs on the back of my neck bristling up? Didn’t she see me pulling away from her overly long, work inappropriate hugs? I wanted to scream—“STOP hugging me!” But I didn’t. It always happened too fast, and I didn’t want to hurt her feelings.

Mary Anne said...

The Nail Clipper. Every week or so, I can hear the clip, clip, clip of this woman - doing her grooming at work - and all I can think is, "Why?" The rest of us have figured out how to do this at home, preferably in the bathroom, OVER the trash can! And then it's over and I forget the annoyance and utter disgust for a while...until, there she goes again. "Clip, clip." I imagine little bits of nail flying over the cubicle walls, landing in my tea cup, finding new homes on our desks, infecting us with who knows what's on them. I hold my breath and look around me to see if anyone else is as disgusted as I am, and we all just look at each other and stifle our reactions, little giggles, at her audacity. Or is she just clueless? It's our unspoken language, the looks of disgust and surprise, our stifled giggles, that bind us. It's a prison, this silence, that keeps us from breaching the walls and looking over to her cube and asking her to just stop already!

Writing Pad said...
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Writing Pad said...

OMG--I LOVE these stories. They are so great!

Halie (now that I know who HMR is)--Your descriptions of the fist bump are so wonderful, that I feel like I'm in the middle of the story. I love the "POUND," all of the questions that the narrator wondered about, and the last line. Smack down!

Mary Ann--I LOVE the "clip clip," what the narrator imagines (especialy the nails flying into the tea cup!), the "unspoken language," and the Prison Cubes. Wow, I am thoroughly disgusted along with the narrator (which is a very good thing).

Thanks, guys--these are fab. I am giggling in my cube. Keep 'em coming!


Carol Wyatt said...

At the ripe young age of 23 I was promoted to Color Supervisor on a very popular TV show. What a thrill! I got to hire a crew, learn and use my very own MAC, and was given a brand new work space.
Next to the kitchen.
In the hallway.

Well, it was a promotion in that I had a lot of responsibility and worked long hours. But sharing a hallway in a 3 story building filled with hungry and thirsty animators filing past me all day was not my idea of a step up.

After complaining a bit (a lot), I was moved and re-situated in many different positions along the hallway and in a corner next to the kitchen door. Back facing the kitchen. Back facing the hallway. Back facing the window in the hallway. At least I could look out the window!

One by one I assembled a small crew and as I was training a new artist on the MAC, one of the Hungarian handymen (I think he was a handyman) started drilling a hole in the floor a few inches away from my foot.

the drill screeched. The hairs stood up on the back of my neck.

"What are you doing?" I asked.
He continued to drill while answering my question. I have no idea what he said.
"Why are you drilling a hole in the floor?"

I called the head of the company to let him know that I couldn't work with someone drilling holes next to my foot. I called the producer to explain my dilemma and was told that the handyman needed to do his job and I should stop complaining and do my job.

So I sat at the computer yelling instructions to the new color stylist.
Drilling continued next to my foot.
None of us accomplished anything.

Eventually, the handyman was frustrated with my complaining (I was too frustrated to stop complaining) and he left in a huff. I watched through the window and saw him exit angrily, smoking a cigarette. Maybe I would get some work done now that he was gone.

Nope...He came back with more tools and different drill bits. This time he used a metal spatula-type tool to try to pull up part of the floor. Then began hammering and drilling while shining a flashlight on the mangled floor. By the time he left, there was a layer of dust on every surface. The floor was a mess. A large square of chiseled, hammered, and torn pieces of linoleum and wood sat next to my foot.

I still to this day have no idea what the handyman was trying to do. He came back a few more times that week to add more dust to my new work place. My work suffered. And the producer finally realized that I needed a room to work in. With a door I could close when drilling could be heard. Professionals came in to fix the dilapidated floor.

Writing Pad said...

From Anonymous:
You know when you are hired for a new job and there is always that one bastard who has decided it is their job to make sure you are on top of your game, yet they have zero superiority over you. Yeah, that girl.

And one day you are just having a little chat, before you have realized her true colors, and happen mention something that apparently isn't quite right regarding work. And as opposed to simply pointing out what the correct answer is, they must try to do it in a way so as to belittle you. So they ask you a question in return as to how it is possible you could say such a thing, relating to your ignorance, but mask their rudeness with a sweet little smile and a sweet but patronizing tone. I'll rip that smile write off her face.

I also hate self-righteous co-workers. Really hate.

I always find it amusing when you have done something your boss is not okay with. Things such as: wearing something they don't approve of, not acknowledging a customer fast enough, the list goes on and on.

And Instead of addressing the issue with you directly, they decide to make an announcement to everyone and for some reason can't seem to make eye contact with you.

I hate it when customers so clearly are sizing you up in their heads. Making you out to be a "certain kind of person" because of where you work, or the tone you have to speak in....They just know so god damn much.

Writing Pad said...

I love these stories! Thanks Carol and Anonymous for posting! I am entertained AND outraged on behalf of the narrators.

Carol--I LOVE the Hungarian Handyman, the drilling next to the foot, and the piece of lineoleum at the end (you described it so well, I can see it vividly!).

Anonymous--I love the rage in the voice of the narrator. It is fabulous. I also love the phrase, "Rip That Smile Off," the list of things "that the boss doesn't approve of," and the customers sizing the narrator up.

I hope you will post on the new prompt this week too! Great stories, guys!

Benny Blanch said...

When I moved to LA I applied for hundreds of jobs ranging from restaurants to PA gigs. Ultimately I landed in an office working for a luxury travel company alongside a younger, more obnoxious and puerile version of Michael Scott.

In the beginning stages of the company I was working alongside Rich* (I'll call him Rich for purposes of anonymity) and sharing a desk. Rich is the owner of the company and OBSESSED with selling tours and making money. I'm more of a thespian and a lover of the arts, making money not that big of an issue for me. I don't want to be a millionaire, I just want to live. Since Rich is driven by the almighty dollar he will do anything to sell. One of his tactics is repeating his speil about the start of the company. "I started in the back of a Mexican Restaurant after I went bankrupt and now I'm the #1 Thing To Do...blaaa, blaaa, bullet loaded locked and pointed to head. Click.

Hearing this script 20-30 times a day is unrelenting for the mind and spirit. Not only on top of that, but he's also an incessant burper, farter and talker. One of those people that says the smallest thing on their mind even when it is unrelated to anything that is going on. Similar to what a six-year-old child with uncontrollable ADD would do. Driving by people and billboards making comments about everything!

He's a 35 year-old child that makes jokes and talks about women like he just found his first pit hairs. But, I have to give him credit...he's a salesman and a good one. I'm not and I realize that I'm never going to get along with them because they will sell anything to make a dollar. It's like they're campy actors willing to say anything to fill their pockets with the dough.