Thursday, November 01, 2007

*slurp* question revisited

So yesterday I posed the question of what you would do if someone around you occasionally slurped his drink. I admit, I am the one with the drugstore blues.

And the person in question, from who's point of view I was asking, is a guy who sits two cubes down from me at work.

He answered the question yesterday, but not in a nicely framed comment. No, instead he started yelling at me from his chair two cubes down and proceeded to rant about my annoying behaviors for the next five minutes. How many of you would have responded in this way? (Delicious irony: 90 minutes later we both sat in a safety meeting where the topic was . . . workplace violence - physical, verbal, and psychological.)

I admit, the slurp happens. I don't hang on to the slurp, drawing it out while I attempt to suck every last microliter of beverage from the cup through my straw; nevertheless, when the drink is disappearing a noise is made. His tirade just nearly killed the day for me (but I thank God for being able to go home to Mrs. E and the kids and have a blast trick or treating last night, allowing me to get this out of my head for a while).

I won't say that I didn't get a little snarky in my reply to his rant (okay, I actually did offer to buy him some earplugs) but over the last five years I have tried dang hard to be professional, genial, non-offensive, and friendly with this guy. I seriously want to act Christ-like, not violent or rude or provoking further confrontations. Because of this guy's peeves, I have done such things as taken to looking the other way as I walk by his desk, because to have eyes cast on him bothers him (another point over which he has blown a gasket, I guess feeling that I was either spying on him or could not stop basking in his manly glory - yeah, right). I have also pretty well stopped listening to music over my computer and mainly use headphones now, despite the fact that they invariably bug my ears after a while, because the music was too loud and he hates my music and doesn't want to hear it (other yelling sessions came over this in this past). All this, to try and keep peace in the office, to no avail.

And, the thing is, despite his assertion that I bug everyone with my numerous flaws, no one else has ever complained to me about what I do. No one. Ever. The guy who sits in the cube between us - the music was not too loud (I asked). And the guy on the other side of me, no problems either. I know that this guy just plain and simple has a problem with me, and nothing I do (short of disappearing) will make him happy.

I still try. All the while biting my tongue on the laundry list of his annoying behaviors that I could throw back in his face. It wouldn't do any good, and it would not be the right thing to do. Oh, I still want to, but I won't. We all have our quirks that drive others crazy, a simple fact. We deal with them, and try to minimize our own out of love, but they will never cease completely.

I'm just venting here. I've put up with this nonsense for the better part of five years, and I expect it will continue until he probably leaves in about a year (he's working on a law degree). Please pray for me to have patience and a thick skin with this guy. And praying for him to chill would not be a bad thing, either.



Amy said...

It's so funny because I was thinking when I read your post yesterday that I remembered you saying you drink a lot. (er, not drink drink, but you know what I mean) so I was curious about if it was maybe you.

Anyway, if someone did that to me, I would probably cry or something, I'm rather sensitive. Maybe he's just ridiculously stressed out, but I'm not sure there's much you can do. When I've had students yell at me (yes, adult students) I always get a little worried I might end up in the next lifetime movie. It sounds like you're doing the best you can, will pray for you! :-)

euphrony said...

Thanks, Amy.

Anonymous said...

It's been said, wisely, that if you love someone there's nothing they can do to bug you, and if you don't love someone then even the way they hold their spoon is annoying to you. It may be a bit of an overstatement, but I think this is clearly an illustration of that jerk having a problem with you rather than with your slupring.

I've actually given it some thought since yesterday, and while my answer may appear on the surface to be sarcastic, it's really not. I would gently tease the slurper about it. I'd note the slurp, try to predict the slurp, give a feeble imitation, and always... always... laugh with the person afterward. Humor can diffuse a tense situation. It might just work if the person was actually self-conscious about the slurping, and if it didn't then at least it would give me a humorous way to cope with something that annoyed me. Does that stand any chance of working?

euphrony said...

Honestly, Cach, the only think that work is distance. You know, I wouldn't mind light-hearted teasing over this. I try not to do it, but it still happens at times, so a little joking would not be bad. It's the way that he responds with such vehemence and anger that gets to me. And this has literally be going on for years. I've tried to do everything I can to keep a friendly atmosphere - I'll great him when we pass in the halls, I never bad-talk him at work, etc. - but useless we have an actual work issue to discuss together the most I get from him is a snort.

I have no idea how this all started. Wasn't this way at first (we worked together on a couple of projects, he shared space in my lab, no problems). As far as I can tell he just went over the deep end one day and decided I was pure evil or something. I'll admit, freely, that there are many things about this guy and the way he lives and acts that I find deplorable; but, I've felt that way about other peoples personal lives and it has never affected my work relationships with them. I'd never be a friend of his outside of work, but that doesn't mean that we cannot work together.

Thanks for sharing in my catharsis.

Anne said...

My mom has FOREVER had a problem with her supervisor at work. I got so tired of hearing about it too. BUT, what has helped my mom is I told her to think of this woman as one of her children and how would she feel if she knew so many people didn't like her child?

What if that annoying guy was your son, your brother or your father? How would you feel if someone felt the way YOU feel about him? He is a lost soul in need. If it were me, I would believe I needed to swallow my pride and ask the guy to forgive me for all that I do that bothers him (whether right or wrong). But that's just me.

I'm praying for you.

Seth Ward said...

Have you tried suspending his calculator in blob of jello? He opens his desk to find his calculator and there it is. Wobbling. Might lighten things up.

I find "turning the other cheek" not as cut and dry as one might think. But hey, I'm Irish.

I think in the end, distance is the best thing, as I am sure, he mostly wants to get a reaction out of you. Especially if he doesn't like you. I would absolutely ignore his everliving existence, even when present in the room. He is invisible. I think it is a pretty effective way to "shake the dust off your feet."

It is a good thing he doesn't have me for a cubical neighbor. It would be my job to torture the chap into a daily tizzy.

Douglas said...

I tried setting the alarm on the calculator of a guy at work who was bugged by me as a joke to try and lighten things up (staff meeting reminder). That only made things worse, since he couldn't figure out how to turn it off and it repeated itself every 15 minutes. He was new to HP48 land and confronted me later in a near tizzy about it. Lesson learned for me. Practical jokes are only funny to people who are on good terms with you to begin with. I can't imagine what he would have done if I would have mixed it with jello. You might not want to try that out.

Personality conflicts are inevitable with some people. I've had mixed success getting over them myself. I'm pretty bad about keeping paperwork straight sometimes and it would drive our secretary nuts. She threw a bag of chips at me once. However, I tried to go out of my way to make her life easier and we get along great now. Only took 6 months. With other people, distance seems to be the only solution. Their pettiness is obvious to others, I think.

From my own experience, people who can't get over *you* often have a string of people in their past whom they've had problems with and this for whatever reason, *you* are just their next target. Sometimes, too, they are stressed out. I worked with a gal one time delivery campus mail who hated my guts and made that quite clear. I never could figure out why and almost quit my job over it. I got along fine with everyone else and it really bugged me. I was so desperate to do something that she liked and wouldn't criticize that I decided to bring cookies to work. I asked a coworker to casually find out what her favorite cookies were. My coworker said point blank to the gal, "MB wants to know what your favorite cookies are? He wants to do something you like/won't criticize him for." That wasn't at all what I had asked the third party to say, and it didn't go over well. To my knowledge, she never got over hating me. At the end of the semester, the gal ended up quitting and I found out that her parents had decided to divorce her freshman year. They subsequently ran into money problems and dropped all support for her. She was working as much as possible and still coming short on cash to pay her bills. Her grades were also plummeting because she was working too much. I just happened to be her whipping boy for 6 months until she dropped out of college to work full time.


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