Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The Office Jungle

In many ways the world of the office can be compared with life for a wilder beast in the, well, wild. Some might say that it is a little too uncanny that offices are like a desert with only the kitchen and water cooler as the veritable oasis (that aren’t always safe, they just contain supplies)

But this was brought to my attention by the role of the work Meerkat or, to the uninitiated, the habit of peering over the edge of cubicles with both hands on the edge checking out the surroundings. After observing the cubicle habits, over many years, of the average office worker this isn’t that far off the truth and, unfortunately, these are not the most dangerous creatures roaming the walkways of your carpeted halls.

The first creature that springs to mind is the parrot, a role that should not be confused with the vulture. In the jungle of the office the parrot, whether female or male, often wears bright outfits that scare the living daylights out of any predators and perch on the edge of a cubicle or on a door frame. They’ll repeatedly ask you about last weekend or next weekend before laughing about things you say that aren’t even really funny then move to the next office to have the exact same conversation. Infuriating people with their repetition they may laugh in a fake manner throwing a hand around like a grenade to ward off any other parrots. No one actually knows if they do any work.

The next character is the elephant, not the worst kind of creature, but not really the greatest. Often it’s a larger or taller person but characteristically they move through the office bumping into everything and grunting excuse me occasionally, and the most obvious trait is that they only want things from the furthest destination. At this point they will reach past whatever is in their way, including other people, and pick it up lightly while apologising the whole time. Often hard working they can be useful to know if you want to get anything without personally upsetting people. They also can clear a path to the cakes on the breakfast morning tea.

A third is the vulture, a creature similar in nature to the parrot but without the conversational tone. They might tend to mingle around offices of those people who, in this time of upheaval, decide or are pushed to leave there jobs. Don’t try to get too close because they’ll swoop on anything left in the office, such as chairs, coffee cups, even administration staff. Best advice is to put out bait for them, maybe leave the occasional unowned coffee cup glued to the desk and watch them try and surreptitiously try to get it off with a staple remover.

The last, for this short list, is the alligator. Not really known as the highest of workers they tend to hang around the safe places of an office; the kitchen, the water cooler and even the toilets. But these can be seen as the most dangerous of all of the office wildlife. They’ll latch onto you, often with bad hug greetings, to get you to help them with some favour or other. Sometimes it can be a quick ‘toner replacement’ for the copier but it can verge on the ‘helping them move house’ to take you entirely away from your day. And they will drag you under if you give them half a chance. Better to struggle back, pulling yourself back with the all important lie ‘I have a meeting with finance’.

So all my advice would be to move in packs, to keep these creatures away from you, but if you want to be really sure best keep a blunderbuss at your desk and find a good safari guide to get you out of there.

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