Reheating the Cold War: A Guide To Office Infighting for Dummies

An Active Warzone

This article originally appears at Life Explained and has been reprinted here with permission from the author.

Recently, people where I work sank to new lows, new depravities – despicable, detestable acts of unrepentant sabotage.

Every day, when I went to warm up lunch, breakfast, coffee, or a snack in the microwave, there were three to seven seconds left on the cycle. So, I had to push clear, then choose the amount of time needed for my project. Only then could I start warming my stuff. Sometimes, without noticing, there were a few measly seconds left when I would begin programming the timer, and it would beep, angrily, defiantly at me.

“Hold on there, hothead, what’s the rush?” it seemed to say. “There are still a few seconds left.” Eating into my precious lunch time even further.

You might think, “Well, they don’t do it intentionally, it’s just one of those things. People forget to reset the copier to single all the time.”

Oh, do they? People remember to change it to 50 sheets without much effort, but somehow they forget to push “1”?  Pardon me while I try to suspend my disbelief.

It is difficult to imagine the scene playing out in the kitchen. “Oh no, the instructions said ‘Cook on high for 50 seconds’ and I accidentally pressed 57. Dangit! Oh well, I’ll just stop it at seven.” Maybe they were standing there, watching their food cook, and bam, it hit perfection three seconds short of the recommended cycle, and they could sense that through the shielded glass, and radioactive protection, they just knew.

And food cooked that precisely needs to be eaten quickly; there’s no time to push clear. Just grab your puny plastic spoon or fork, rush back to your miserable little cubicle, and eat your perfectly heated whatever, growling, and snapping at anybody who walks past.

Having reached my limit, I decided to fight back. It was time for a protracted guerrilla campaign. A lengthy, unwinnable, war of terror aimed directly at my friends and co-workers.

Out of OrderIt was cheap, and it was easy. I found a pad of post-it notes and a pen on a desk, not too far from the kitchen, and pocketed both. Finding a secluded, lonely place in the work room, I quickly scribbled “Out of Order” on a few of my post-its. Then, with the casual flair of James Bond I walked coolly, nonchalantly and comfortably past the elevator, and stuck one right over the call buttons.  I could barely control myself.

The seventh floor restroom became “non-functional.” Coupled with the “non-operational” elevator, people were forced to take the stairs to answer nature’s call.

One night, I stayed a little late and put a few “please remove” post-it notes on my co-workers’ desks. The custodial staff, sensing the authority of a handwritten post-it note, threw them away.  People were forced to sit on the floor, use the chair as a desk, and hope they didn’t need to take notes.

Soon, I started leaving notes saying things like, “See me, as soon as you arrive!” with an illegible scribble as the signature. People were rushing from one end of the building to the other, asking everybody, “Did you want to see me?” After the seventh or eighth flustered employee barged into their offices, the mid-level managers started to become impatient, angry.

Then one day I came whistling into work, a brand-new pack of lined, fluorescent post-it notes (the real deal, only $9.49 a pack at Office Max) struggling to escape the confines of my pocket and get to the new pen (a nice one, a Pilot G2 Gel Retractable, with an .07 nib, only $17.49 a dozen at Office Depot) in the front pocket of my shoulder bag. Gleefully walking to my desk, I stopped dumbstruck as I spotted it. A single, lonely post-it on my computer monitor that read, “Knock it off, or else! You don’t want to know who we are, or what we will do.”

I went to work, answered my emails, and never stopped looking over my shoulder.

Tim Clark

Author: Tim Clark

Just a guy, you know, trying to stay even. Read more by Tim at Life Explained.

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