June 06, 2014

Day 5: How to Fit in at Your New Office (or at Least Avoid Being Hated)


Anyone will tell you: the hardest part about starting a new job isn't finding out how to impress your boss; it's finding the bathroom.  It isn't writing an office memo; it's finding the damn copy room so you have something to print it on.

Basically, starting a new job is like starting middle school all over again.  You eat lunch alone and just hope no one notices you walking into the wrong office... again.

Since I've graduated, I've been suffering "chronic new girl condition."  I'm consistently that girl leaving the copy room with 25 boxes of staples out of fear that I won't be able to find it again.

I left my last job just as I was finally beginning to fit in.  I knew where to get more staples, who could fix the printer when it jammed, who to avoid before noon, and who to just avoid in general.  I knew which shelf in the mini-fridge would freeze your yogurt and I was part of a very exclusive break room posse who watched HGTV at noon and sometimes coordinated exclusive potluck taco lunches.

But now, yet again, I eat lunch alone in front of my computer.  When someone asks me to come to their office, I have to slowly walk the perimeter of the building, reading the name tag on every office door.  Sometimes twice.  And that's if I can actually remember their name.

But the bright side of being the chronic new girl is that you're not starting from scratch every time.  There are actually a few universal rules for being accepted at any new office.  Or at least there are universal rules for not being immediately hated.  A set of guidelines that, if you follow, will buy you at least a few months before people decide to dislike you.  These include:

1. Never eat tuna for lunch.  Just trust me.
2. Don't be the girl who is always on Facebook.
3. Or the girl who is always shopping online.
4. And never, ever be the girl caught playing solitaire.
5. Actually, apply that one to life in general.
6. Don't be the annoying one who labels your food in the kitchen fridge.  Kindergarten was a while ago.  And if someone's going to eat another person's lunch, knowing whose it is won't stop them.
7. Never leave the paper towel roll, the printer, or the communal stapler empty.  People notice, and they don't forget.
8. Unless it's a physical necessity, don't take the elevator up one story.  Being lazy is not a physical necessity.
9. Regarding your phone: If the people around you know about your kid's ear infection without them asking... stop.
10. If you clear your throat on a three minute interval or tap your feet... also, stop.
11. Try not to bring your kids to work.  There's a reason we stopped babysitting in high school.
12.  But do bring doughnuts.  Everyone likes the guy who brings doughnuts.

Office life isn't easy and following these rules doesn't guarantee people won't hate you anyway.  But the least you can do is not make it easy for them.

"People who think they know everything are a great annoyance to those of us who do."
-Isaac Asimov