You know the drill, folks. If you're like millions and millions of Americans, you work in an office. In that office is a number of people who, despite being all individuals in their own right (this is actually not true in corporate America, however, they'd like you to believe it), after maybe more intensive study, you'll notice these characters breaking down into much smaller and more specific species or groups. I have noted below the most common of these species. Based on my field studies, I've also added a "damage rating" which is a simple metric that rates, on a scale of 1 to 10, the amount of distractive damage the specific is capable of. Additionally, I explain some of their peculiar behavior and, more importantly, suggested defenses against their attack. Some species have no defenses. They will overcome you and ruin you. Be careful.
Some people are actually mixed species--the jackalopes of the office. By adding together their damage ratings, you'll see that while alone as a overattentive custodial figure, they might have very little damage potential, if they told jokes, their damage rating would drastically increase. If they have a loud laugh, even higher. If they're a combination of all twenty (which I fail to believe is actually possible simply because there are dynamic differences between the species that would prevent it), they have no place in the office and should become a horse and run out in the sunny meadow. And now, without further delay, I present to you to my findings. While not purely scientific, it might be the surface of further research.
THE JOKE TELLER (humorous stupidanus)
Damage Rating: 8.5
The Joke Teller is a fairly common office breed. His interruptive nature is something that should not be taken lightly. His ability to simply walk up and begin a joke with no introduction or setup is his biggest danger. The Joke Teller also strikes electronically in the form of forwarded emails. If you open one of these emails, you've committed to a minimum of three minutes as you scroll through the multiple recipients and ">" marks. Your best defense against an attack is to not laugh. I usually go the extra mile and tell them, "That was really stupid." Also effective is the sigh with, "Wow, too funny."
THE OVERATTENTIVE/BORED CUSTODIAL (custodius detailus)
Damage Rating: 2.1
Not especially distractive. My run-ins are normally in the form of a canister at the coffee station that is absolutely jammed full of creamers and sugars that it's difficult to even retrieve one without sending about 200 packets flying onto the counter. Other times, it's the feather duster moving by the cubicle for the third or fourth time. Sometimes I mistaken it for a rare bird that has nested somewhere in our office.
THE FORWARDER (emailus gulliblea)
Damage Rating: 4.6 - 7.9
Like the Joke Teller, the Forwarder cannot resist forwarding emails. They might have even taken steps to making the process more efficient by creating different distribution lists titled: "work from home," "warnings" and "humor" for the different classifications of emails. Their damage rating depends almost solely on the content of the forward. If it's another email about the greenhouse effect, they might range from 3-5, whereas, if the email is one of those stupid forwards with different colors, moving objects, a rooster jumping on a trampoline or a gorilla hailing a cab, it might range more from 6-8. You will end up making changes to your email security to prevent getting emails from this person. Additionally, when you see this person in the hallway, sometimes they'll just laugh like you got and read the email. So you're almost obligated to reading the emails so you know what the hell their laughing about.
THE UTOPIAN (realitus disconnectus)
Damage Rating: 3.2
Look for the jungles of succulant plants and countless pictures of family members. They might even spend the day listening to horrible new age music to help them relax within the hectic office environ. Oddly, these are the people who are least effected by the panicked office pace, but it still feels so jarring and alienating for them so, to cope, they surround themselves with a jungle...just without the dangerous predatorial animals and with nearby bathroom facilities.
THE SPORTS FACT GUY (sportus factolea)
Damage Rating: 8.1
This guy's like a walking almanac. And, being that sports occur year round, you can always rely for a drive-by from this guy. This knowledge is wide even including transactions within the farm systems and salaries. He'll be waiting by your desk when you arrive to ask, "Did you know the guy that caught Barry's 755th homer was a plumber from Oakland named Mike Wiggins?" Tell them you're gay and they probably will never try it again.
THE MINUTE MAN (salarus slackea)
Damage Rating: 5.6
This dude shaves as much off the work day that he possibly can. He shows up at 8:05 and leaves at 4:57. He does not enjoy being confronted on such and, sometimes, might even take offense and become vocal with a host of specific excuses which normally channel right back to some lame "I'm just that busy in the evening," or "I got things in the evening." Like work is their inconvenience. It's not extremely damaging unless you need something at, say, 5:02 and they're already on their way home to a 5:30 dinner date. Have you ever been to a restaurant at 5:30? Yeah right.
THE ELEVEN O'CLOCK LUNCHER (appetitus overdrivius)
Damage Rating: 5.7
Like above, they simply refuse to work on a calendar that's sensible. Believe it or not, there are steps that can be taken to diffuse early hunger like, say, a good diet consisting of breakfast and mid-morning snack like, say, a granola bar. The leave every day at 11:00 like they haven't eaten in nearly two weeks. Slightly more damaging simply because it's more likely to happen when you have a pressing project that needs completion at mid-day.
THE HORDER (propertus scavengus)
Damage Rating: 1.5
Every office has that guy who will not pass up an opportunity at free goods. Whether it's paper clips, rubber bands, box cutters, keyboards, hard candy, magazines, staplers, staples, ball point pens, replacement lead for mechanical pencils. They're desk area is more like a supply store than an actual desk. Their damage rating is low because you know, eventually, you'll employ their services. I, most commonly, for the hard candy.
THE CRIER (unexplainedus somberus)
Damage Rating: 8.3
Wow, is there anything more distractive than a crier? Well, of course. When it happens every week. There's a rare breed that lives on the edge of crying 7 days a week. Chances are, when you see them even when smiling, they are deathly close to absolutely losing it and balling. It could be depression. It could be bad upbringing. It could be stress or it could be, simply, they like the attention. Even more spectacular is they will sometimes go home after crying like it's a reasonable excuse for taking the day off. I've always had the hardest time understanding this phenomenon because I rarely cry. It's because my heart is blackened and I've become emotionally detached.
THE LAUGHER (the white-tailed High Plains paint stripper)
Damage Rating: 9.6
The office space is a low murmur of papers being shuffled, muted conversations on the phone and then, k'boom! A laugh that matches the decibel level of a passing train. If you're like me, even at a distance, it makes you tear up in sheer pain. It envokes a physical pain comparable to that of an indian sunburn. It's damage rating is unmatched because it interrupts brain activity required to work your vitals like breathing, pumping blood and movement. I experience a period of suspended animation and then have to spend a moment remembering where I was. You just hope that, wherever this guy is, there's no aftershocks. But, unfortunately, it rarely happens just once. It is usually followed with longer, sustained laughter. Even worse, when a crowd gathers around the Laugher and the recruits begin laughing in unison. Some offices will take 15 minutes to recover from these sessions.
THE UNCOMORTABLE PHYSICAL REWARDER (sterneus backslapperus)
Damage Rating: 7.1
His attacks are rare, unannounced and sometimes even inappropriate. In a world that has drawn so many lines on what's appropriate or what's out of line, the backslap has unfairly become an oddity in modern office life. Thus making an instance where a back is slapped very distractive. If done correctly, you lose your breath for a moment or even something you were eating last night becomes dislodged and magically appears in your mouth. Simply say to them that you would prefer a less violating and harmful form of reward like, say, a pay raise or additional vacation days. Butt slapping was outlawed back in the days of Lonnie Anderson and WKRP in Cincinnati.
THE MANDATORY 15-MINUTE BREAKER (class-actionus potentialea)
Damage Rating: 3.7
Apparently in this day and age of record profits, increased efficiency and doing whatever a company can to be number one, people still believe in labor laws. In fact, some people have them memorized. I'm talking of the "child labor law" variety, but rather the mandatory 15-minute break for all four hours worked. I probably don't even have that right. That's because I don't believe in them. They're stupid. Look, if you're looking for a reason not to work, perhaps influenza or maybe a broken hip. I can give you both. Ironically, these are the people that work at 3/4 speed, so essentially, they take a 15 minute break every hour.
THE COMPLIANCE CRUSHER (regulationus adherea)
Damage Rating: 4.8
Not necessarily a supervisor, this species talent is noticing details. More importantly, the details that could get your happy ass fired. Look, don't ignore them because if they're not your supervisor, they know the quickest route to his/her desk. Sometimes its not recycling your paper goods or parking in Visitor Parking or using the wrong color of highlighter used to correct documents. This one will do damage if you don't look out. They're necessary to keeping the office in order, but sometimes takes the job unnecessarily serious. Don't take it lightly.
THE YOU'RE ACTUALLY WORKING?-ER (constantus slackerus)
Damage Rating: 9.3
This splendidly awesome species exudes a confidence in their protection that, not only are they reluctant to actually do work, but they make a point to glare as to be confused why you show any ambition, concern and/or urgency. Here's how it goes: "Hey, ya'll. Did you get the email that just came across?" Reply: "Uh, dude, we're talking." They're defense tactics are remarkable and very sly. Because, in packs, they can convince you that you really shouldn't be working. They're deadly in packs. They might even cost you your job. Keep working is your best action.
THE TOO-MUCH-INFORMATION DISCLOSER (boundus oversteppea)
Damage Rating: 9.1
Tuesday, it was an aunt with an infection on her foot that might require removal. Wednesday, it was a 20-minute monologue about a botched oil change. Thursday, it was the color of their vomit after eating at the Mexican buffet. Friday's news might ruin your weekend. There's no crafty getaway from these sorts of situations. I usually just black out and nod my head. Others employ the really awkward just-turn-your-back-to-'em move. I've never been a fan of this technique because then it makes you the asshole. I like to come out pretty clean, but maybe that's why I give it a damage rating of 9.1--because I can't help but listen. It's one of my more endearing qualities.
THE WALKING HEADLINE (MSN.com homepagea)
Damage Rating: 7.3
This species believes firmly that, despite it taking up valuable time during the workday, it's their "right to the know the news...to be informed." Perhaps, but it's your obligation to work. Nonetheless, this cat's not above just flying over to your desk and hitting you with about five to seven news stories all at once transitioned only with, "And then, did you hear..." It's almost indicative of mild retardation. I'm somewhat insulted with this cat because, over the last fifteen years or so, I've crafted myself to be as close to the news as possible. Yet, despite that, I get this cat always barking on some new bull. Yeah, Katrina. Yeah, NASA. Yeah, food poisoning. I get it. Every night. Sometimes three times a night. I'm talking about the news. Go away. I don't put my head down and think, "Man, I wonder what incredible news story Teddy's gonna tell me tomorrow! He's always full of such great news! And it's always so relevant!"
THE CRAZY WARDROBE GUY/GAL (clothea flamboyitica)
Damage Rating: 6.5
More likely going to be a "gal," but not altogether uncommon to spot a male in this species. It's usually florescents or even Don Johnson white pants. You never know. Normally, things are worn not for their comfort, but so these lil' pips can finally own their space in the world as something to someone. "If I have to be the moron who dresses like I'm Swedish and dons an accent, so be it!" It could be a printed shirt that reads, "I hate black people." Oh, that crazy Bobby! Always up to something!" Now I know why they make dress codes. It's to avoid collisions with this freakish species.
THE WEATHERMAN (meterologica aspirus)
Damage Rating: 7.8
If it's hailing, they'll let you know. Not like you can do anything about the beating your car might be taking, but they're gonna say, "Hey, it's hailing." Or they might report a tornado that touched down three hundred miles away. They're understanding of the weather, apparently, doesn't also include nature like, "Hey, tornados will eventually strike somewhere. Relax." I only want to know when the wall cloud has appeared and it's about two miles away. Nah, make that two and a half. I might need to drop by the store for Q-tips or milk. Again, they're just trying to carve out their niche. Unfortunately, weather.com already took care of that. Like Bob Dylan said, "You don't need a weatherman to blah blah blah." I can walk out and tell you it's hot. I don't need to know the record or even the current temperature. It's hot enough to cause chaffing. That's all I need to know. Not that I have to worry about that, but I look over my neighbors. Again, an endearing quality.
THE ANTIBACTERIALIST (Lysolus constantus)
Damage Rating: 4.2
You'll hear them coming by the sound of a Lysol can being deployed. Hopefully, you'll never get the treatment I received at a former job where the receptionist actually sprayed me at close range like I was the bacteria. The damage rating would double if that was the case. It's Lysol or it's a box of Kleenex to make sure you're blowing your nose into something and not into the floor. You can also spot this species by the cannon of antibacterial hand gel at their desk. It can get annoying (especially because I'm a germaphobe, but still might not wash my hands before dining--I ride the fence), but these people are, again, very vital in the office space.
THE ALWAYS-SOMETHINGIST (vacationis maximus)
Damage Rating: 8.7
It's always something. This species is quite efficient at making themselves look uber-important because it's always something. It's a concert, it's a death in someone else's family (like they're the President or something), it's a charity event, it's a dinner, it's a gala. Whatever. This person always has a reason to take off work. You'd think they don't really need a job except to pay for their numerous excursions. You know the one, though. You go by their desk for maybe an entire week and you don't see anyone and then someone lets you know that they went for a month long kayaking trip in Canada. Obvious man says, "And they're able to keep their job?!" There's always something. My something is dinner and I usually make a point to leave by then.
Off to Santa Fe for Slug, Murs, Cage, Sage Francis, Brother Ali, Living Legends and City Fence from Lubbock, TX (da original Fiddy Cent). Check out my brotha below. Don't fake the funk on broham's mangled teeths and mulletude hair-due. I pick him for a fan of Neil Schon of Journey. When I say "brotha," I mean "brotha" not "brother."
Have a rad Thursday and Friday. Keep rockin, Cru Jones.