Things I want to punch in the face: Office Coworkers

Today’s rant comes from PDITF reader, Lesley. She’s the author of 23 to Life, a blog about Self-Improvement, Passionate living, Minimalism, and a bunch of other topics. If you like what she had to say, go check her out. Now on to her rant about punching her coworkers in the face….

annoying coworker

If you’ve ever worked in an office, you probably know the type of coworker I’m talking about. There’s always at least one crazy, annoying person who manages to fool the hiring department into thinking they’re semi-sane and semi-capable. Coworkers like that are like little nasty bed bugs: hard to get rid of once you’ve let them in the door.

Working in an office requires some semblance of decorum and this is what makes it so frustrating. You generally have to be polite, even when your fingers are itching to slap that better-than-you grin off their smug face! Nothing really phases me, but dealing with crazy coworkers day in and day out can push even the most zen person to their limits.

So here’s why I want to punch some of my office coworkers in the face:

Coworkers who don’t know how to use the computer.

I’m sorry, but the reality is that we’re living in a world that relies on a basic understanding of technology, this includes knowing how to use a computer. You may be a dinosaur but the rest of us have work to do and we don’t have time to show you how to use the mouse and keyboard.

I once had a coworker bring in an audio recorder because she wanted to record me explaining to her how to open a file. The first time, I right-clicked and showed her how to click on “Open”. The next time, I double-clicked on the file to open it. She physically stopped me with a hand on my wrist and said, “woah – back up there a second – WHAT did you just do?” She blamed me for confusing her by doing something two different ways and instructed me to only do it one way because she was “still learning”.

You call me stupid. I call you stupid.

Is there anything that makes you want to punch your annoying coworker in the face more than when said coworker points out that you did something wrong? Obviously, if you did do something wrong you’ll do what you can to rectify the matter, but it’s just irritating when your arch nemesis (who doesn’t know he’s your arch nemesis) had to be the one to bring it to your attention.

BUT, if you, in fact, did not do anything wrong and your coworker was just being stupid, then I think it’s okay to punch them in the face. For example, one time my coworker wrote me an email saying “are you quite sure this email address is correct because it’s quite unusual for there to be a dot at the end of it”. I was absolutely dumbfounded and momentarily stunned. I didn’t know whether to scream obscenities or laugh hysterically at the ridiculousness of this inquiry. I finally managed to reach a calm place and emailed her back saying that the “dot” on the end of the email was simply a period that is required by all sentences to be proper.

Inappropriate “friendliness.”

I understand you may not have a life outside of work, but please don’t invite me to lingerie parties disguised as “pyjama networking parties”. Also, please don’t invite me to go swimming at the pool (or any other activity that requires either one of us to don a bathing suit) with you . What makes it even more inappropriate is that you are a 45-year-old man and I am a 21-year-old woman.

Coworkers who do not know what tact is.

And, finally, we have the tactless coworker. These may possibly be the most annoying type of coworker in the known universe. They say blatant things that rankle your nerves and make you want to do violent things to them and their car. They’ll casually say things like “Wow, it must take you a really long time to get home on the bus. Man, it looks NASTY out there. I’m so glad I drive. Okay, bye! See you on Monday!” Or, maybe it’s “Wow, your lunch has a really strong smell. It’s why I don’t eat ethnic foods anymore.” Every time I think about vaulting over the desk and attacking, I have to remember a prison sentence is not worth it.

The horrifying truth is that annoying coworkers are everywhere. Even the most stringent office is susceptible to infiltration. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. I don’t know about you, but for me nothing would be more satisfying or more enjoyable than being able to punch my annoying coworkers right in the kisser.

Ninja’s Comments: Fortunately, I don’t have any annoying coworkers, being that I work from home. Ha! That said, I think every job I’ve had in the past, has always had ONE person that just kinda sucked. Why is that? Why is there always “that guy” that totally make an enjoyable workplace, well, miserable? It’s like an unwritten rule all offices must hire one quasi-pyschotic quasi-drama person. Do you have any annoying coworkers? Tell us about him or her!

If you would like to be considered for a “Things I want to punch in the face” guest post get in touch with me and hopefully we can work something out. Only rules are it has to be funny and you have to be passionate.

53 thoughts on “Things I want to punch in the face: Office Coworkers”

  1. Ooh, I can see this one getting loads of comments. Can’t wait to read them all.

    Speaking of computer moron-ness. I still can’t believe how many people default to REPLY TO ALL in email or send you the “your kidney will get stolen” hoaxes.

    My two least favorite types of co-workers are:
    -the person who always talks about being too busy (when they’re not) that you have to hound to get anything done.
    -the caty female co-worker who is insecure and throws people under the bus to make herself look better instead of focusing on improving the quality of her own work. I don’t run into this with guys that often but have met several chics in this category.

    • LOL @ kidney hoaxes

      What about the person who always asks if you’re busy (even though they can SEE you working and the piles of work on your desk) and asks if you can help them with their work. Then, when you make time to help them (i.e. do their work) you later see them sitting around watching videos on YouTube!

      • OMG!! I TOTALLY forgot about the YouTubers! We do have a Master Delegator in our dept…. she just passed something off to me that she could’ve checked herself…. it appears I freed up some of her time for online Christmas shopping… how nice of me…

  2. I’m LOVIN’ this post! LOL! Like FGA, I’ll be logging on periodically throughout the day to see some colourful replies!

    If I wanted to punch my co-worker in the face, I’d better be ready to run, because she’s my sister! She’s fiesty; she could do Mo D. some serious damage! Some people may find her abrasive and sarcastic…. I sit back and enjoy the show; I’m used to her (we’ve been sisters for her 41 years), so when she spews venom at others, I’m just thankful it’s not at me! The one nice thing is that we don’t throw each other under the bus, we’ll point out each others errors quietly, and help each other. One of our co-workers retired in June, and her favourite pastime was pointing out your mistakes (loudly), and did all she could to bury her own…’til I’d find ’em… and I’d make a point of telling her… and our boss…. what she did wrong. Immaturity on my part? Maybe… but if you want to call somewhat out just to make yourself look good, be ready to have it thrown right back at you!

    For the most part, we get along fairly well in our small office… the annoying one retired, so it’s now a happier work environment. I do have issues with dinosaurs that don’t know how to use their computers… drives… me… NUTS!!

  3. What would we have to talk about if we didn’t have those crazy people at work? The worst person I’ve ever worked with was a liar. I’d take catty, lazy, incompetent over lying. I’d never met anyone like her before. Of course she seemed sane until the probation period was up and then she slowly morphed into Liar Lady. Thank god she met a guy on-line and conned him into letting her move in with him 2hrs away. Poor guy, we felt sorry for him but were so relieved to see her go.

  4. The “complainer”: he’s got a kid, he’s got problems. Money is never enough. Instead of working, we had to hear him moan about how bad his life is.

    The “sex-appealer”: he’d say all kinds of “dirty” stuff. If you’re talking about something, he’s immediately getting it to a “porn” reference. Not to mention hitting on women. Not too seriously to grant a sexual harassment charge, but enough to make you want to squeeze his … till it gets black.

    Fortunately I am working alone now and kinda miss the old “zoo” 🙂

    • Oh, Ramona, let me tell you about the time I once had to sit through my coworker explain to me how he was unfortunate enough to have to be dating TWO women at the same time because it was just too much work. I mean come on.. the time commitment? the phone calls? the emotional support? He waxed on and on about how if this had happened to him 10 years ago he might have been able to handle it… but now he’s a Director in a company and just has NO time or energy to devote to these two girls. The only responses I could muster were “hmmm” and “realllllly”. Inside I was thinking, “why, thank you so much for thinking I needed to hear this.”

  5. I have 2 that I’d love to punch in the face…one continuously snaps her fingers or claps her hands, blasts Beyonce/house music/Lady Gaga/Justin Bieber, yells about things (for over an HOUR yesterday alone!) and talks in a sing-song voice randomly. The other doesn’t think the day is complete if she hasn’t told and re-told a story 17,000 times and dropped at least 15 f-bombs. They’re basically AWESOME. =/

  6. Maybe this is just me, but I work in IT and sit among a lot of Indians. They talk very loudly and it’s always in their own language so I can’t understand any of what they are saying. When I’m on conference calls, I’ve had people ask me if I’m working in a call center.

    Also, the guy on the other side of the cube wall clips his fingernails at his desk. That sound makes me shudder.

  7. That computer one annoys me too. People who don’t know what an attachment is, or what copy and paste means.

    My major pet peeve is the one-topic colleague. They can only talk about their kids, or their car, or their house or they try to rehash the same damn BORING THINGS without changing topics or talking about new things they’ve learned, read or watched.

  8. I’m pretty lucky where I am, but for a while we had admin person who would knock on my door and whisper to tell me my clients had arrived. Why is it a secret? They know they’re here, I need to know they’re here. Just speak up for heaven’s sake! I don’t know why this drove me so insane, but it really did. She was also the one who would not speak more than three words all day, but then when I’m about to leave (with coat on, bag and keys in hand) she asks some question with a very long response required. Why are you asking me this now? I’ve been sitting in my office all day, and now, when I’m on my way to an appointment or home, you need to ask me this? WHY WHY WHY?

    • That would totally drive me crazy, too!

      What about when it’s an hour to go until you’re off and people suddenly start giving you stuff to do that they need done TODAY. It’s like you KNOW I go home in an hour and you’ve just given me 2 hours of work! Drives me nuts!

  9. YES, YES, YES! Especially the bit about computers. I had a coworker at the newspaper who was 66 years old. We had (finally!) started a website for the paper, and he refused to learn how to post his work to the computer. SOMEONE ELSE HAD TO STAY LATE AT THE PAPER TO POST HIS STORIES ON GAME NIGHT BECAUSE HE REFUSED TO LEARN! After one meeting, our boss told us that we’d all be responsible for posting our archives to the paper’s website. This dinosaur pulled me aside after the meeting and told me, “I guarantee I won’t be doing that. And no one will make me.” Sure enough, he never had to learn because the boss made the rest of us babysit him! ARRRRGGGGHHHHH!

    On email addresses and periods, I actually STOPPED ending my sentences with a period if an email address was there. I just knew there would be someone daft enough to try sending an email with a period at the end. I want to work from home like Ninja! 🙁

    My current pet peeve is coworkers who comment on my wardrobe. I started wearing a coat that is, admittedly, too large for me because I’m trying to pay off my debt quickly and didn’t want to waste $100+ on a new coat. My new coworker – who I affectionately call “Little Limbaugh” for her insane political rants – called me Orphan Annie! I’m like, “Listen, ho, I don’t comment on your pants when it looks like they’re cutting off your circulation, so unless you’re going to buy me a new coat, STFU!” Man, I totally should have co-written this post! :-p

    • You know, the thing about the email address that bugged me too was that the email itself was highlighted in blue and underlined but the period wasn’t!

      OMG – so funny! Your “Listen, ho…” quote is hilarious! I love all of the nicknames you all have for your coworkers.

  10. How about a manager I nicknamed RAGE!

    It was the craziest thing. I just figured we had a “personality conflict”.

    As time went on and he found out that he could not “manage” me very well, he decided that his best tactic was to take me into a room, shut the door, and precede to scream at me for as long as I would stand it. INSANE! Im a peaceful dude, and thats about the only guy I have ever worked with that I wanted to punch in the face!!!

    In case you guys think I wasn’t doing my work or something, I later had a co-worker compliment me by saying I was the hardest worker in the office. Glad he had his eyes open at least!


  11. We have one lady that embodies many “bad” traits–I refer to her as “toxic)
    1) she microwaves cheap, nasty bacon and it smells up the whole office. i was convinced i was pregnant for two weeks, the smell was making me so nauseated.
    2) she clips her fingernails in her office and i hate the noise too
    3) she lies about things–how much work shes done, if she’s done something, and anything else she can think of
    4) one of my favorites (three people in our office are guilty of this)–TAKES HER SHOES OFF and walks around the office barefoot. i don’t want to see (or smell) your disgusting feet. keep your shoes on.

    • Oh boy, the nail clipping in the office is a definite no-no! Ick and the barefeet? Sometimes, don’t you just want to yell “This is not your HOME people! This is a place of business!!”

      So far we’ve had stories of “Liar Lady”, “The Complainer”, “The Sex-Appealer”,”Little Limbaugh”, “Rage”, “Toxic” and I’ll add one to the list.. His name was “Creepy”. Anyone else have fitting nicknames they give their coworkers?

  12. I actually have a coworker who calls me, I answer and he says “One moment please” then works through whatever he is doing expecting me to wait for him. SERIOUSLY….not once and awhile but everytime like I have nothing better to do then wait for him to be available to talk to me. That being said I also work with a department of all woman and that can be it’s own private hell as they discuss every bit of thier private lives as if we all want to know.

    Wow, thanks for this post and thanks to all the great comments. It’s nice to know there are many people in the same scary boat.

    • lol that sounds super annoying! I’ve never had it that bad but I’ve been in situations where I’ll be talking to the boss in their office and they’ll take a call. I tell them I’ll come back later but he’s like “NO!” and orders you to stay. You keep trying to leave but he shakes his head and points to the seat.. 30 minutes of awkwardness later….

      Interesting how you mention about working in a department of all women being its own private hell… I can say that I now work in an office of just men and it’s awesome! I’m the only lady and there’s NO drama at all. Is there something to this?

      • I think there is something to that. I worked in a small office, with women only. There was a lot of talking behind people’s backs, competition, paranoia and full-on bitchiness. This went on for years. As soon as a man was hired, the tension (at least from my perspective) eased. Very bizarre phenomenon.

  13. Omg I so love this post!

    I work in a primary school and some of the more annoying co-workers (usually new teachers with less experience than me) always somehow end up annoying the crap out of me.

    One likes to pull a chair at the desk next to mine and sit there, trying to engage me in a conversation when it’s clear I got my iPod on and earphones plugged in, and my desk filled w books/work to be marked. This person would ask inane questions, make comments about how hardworking I am (thankyouverymuch for noticing) but I really would rather focus on my work than his boring stories.

    Another likes to ask why I have files etc on my table and I’d take my time to explain the work that needs to be done before the term finishes. I don’t know why I bother coz he always sayd,”none of my problem if the files are incomplete because the previous year’s teacher didn’t complete them.” *bangs head*

    I also used to have a colleague who HAD to go one better. She was the Mrs Jones! If I wear a new top, she’d ask how much it is and says she has smthg similar but MORE expensive. Like, whateva beech I dun give a sheeeet.

    Well, tons of annoying co-worker related stories since I work in a school and I see them everyday. I tend to bury my head in work and not talk to the others so much but stimes would get up and talk to the others coz someone went and complained to the principal I was a snob who think I’m too good to be friends w everybody else when all I really was doing was finishing up work T_T

  14. How would handle the situation if someone call you over in a emergency fashion claiming one of her super important file is gone, then you find out she is trying to open a PDF file using File -> Open within Excel? Also, what do you do when she is your boss….

    • lol well first don’t laugh. That’s always a mistake especially when you’re dealing with the boss. Maybe instead of explaining to her that Excel probably isn’t the best program to use to open PDF files.. locate the file in My Computer or My Documents and show her that the file IS there and double-click from that window. Then she can make her own assumptions as to why Excel couldn’t locate the file. Most people blame the computer anyway! I know I do!

  15. Awesome post!!

    “your arch nemesis (who doesn’t know he’s your arch nemesis)”
    I love this sentence, because it’s true – oftentimes you have this internal battle with someone without their knowledge, such as the one I’m in right now! lol. I have a coworker who is one of those whose ego barely fit through the door, and constantly makes comments that irk people such as “well they wouldn’t want someone with as much education as I have” when discussing whether he’d want me job (I recently resigned; he just has a Masters degree, which is actually a preferred qualification of my job). He’s also so controlling that he even hovered over the cake cutting last week until he was literally taking the forks out of my hand one-by-one and explaining to the guy cutting the cake why he was doing it wrong. AND we had an issue with a group we work with, and instead of asking for their side, he basically went into the meeting and accused them of all sorts of incorrect things. It was a moment to remember, for sure. I’ve only been in this job for a year but he’s been my #1 enemy, for sure. He just doesn’t know that. 😉

  16. Well I have seen Helpful Guy Who Actually Makes More Work Than Anyone Else, and of course there is Broken Promises Girl Who Says She Will Help You and Then Calls In Sick.

  17. Oh lord, who CAN’T relate to the annoying coworker problem? I think one of the things I love about Ninja’s “Things I Want to Punch in the Face” series is that it gives us all an excellent opportunity to unload and commiserate about the crap we all have to put up with.

    My personal contributions to the discussion, all from the one tiny office I work in:

    -The person who leaves all their work to the last minute, then dumps it on your desk at 5 minutes to 5:00 and asks you to take care of it because they have to leave early for a dinner date.
    -The person who conducts uncomfortably personal phone calls about their cheating husband and ingrate children loudly enough for all to hear.
    -The person who notes every time anyone in the office is 5 minutes late, but has no trouble taking extended lunch breaks herself.
    -The person who calls you to their desk with an “IT emergency,” forcing you to leave the project you were in the middle of, only to find when you get there that she’s having trouble scanning pictures of her granddaughter’s birthday party to her computer.
    -The receptionist who, when you tell her to hold your calls, doesn’t tell callers, “I’m sorry, she’s unavailable,” but rather, “She told me that she didn’t want to talk to you.”

    Phew, it felt good to get those off my chest! Thanks for the chance to vent. 😀


  18. Thankfully, my toxic coworker only stayed in my department for 9 months. She was fine for the first 3 months, then she turned into the cattiest, meanest person I had ever met. She went out of her way to cause drama or to make me feel less experienced even though I had the job longer! She finally was switched to different departments after actually starting a stupid argument with our supervisor.

    She’s a Cowboys fan and he is a Texans fan. They always teased each other, but she made it personal one day. They decided not to talk football anymore. Then one morning, she walks to the back of the row to simply make fun of how the Texans had played. My supervisor just looked at her like “excuse me?”. My supervisor’s boss was in the cubicle next to him that morning since they were talking and he finally realized that none of us had been exagerating…she really just liked to start fights…crazy lady was transferred the next day. 🙂

  19. I have the Doom and Gloom coworker who rants every week about how we’re all going to lose our jobs and tells everyone outside of work this like it’s a fact (which it isn’t). Seriously it’s so bad that people ask me if I’m losing my job. (We are a research facility that is federally and locally funded and in the 26 years of existing have had one layoff for 6 months in 1996, but even if there was a possibility we might lose our jobs why dwell on it!!!)

  20. OMG, totally sitting next to one right now…

    he slams his keyboard so hard..snaps his fingers…gets up and stretches right in front of my cubicle. EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. (10x a day!) but doesn’t say much.

  21. Check, check, check and check. We must work at the same place 🙂 Except my work-guy that doesn’t know how to use a computer is only 30 years old, and I’m not kidding. You’ll have to share with me your tips on how not to call people idiots and to refrain from asking me any more questions. The only way I’ve learned to cope is hysterical laughter, which every once in a while I can hold back until they are out of sight.

    • I’m sorry, Kelly, I don’t have any tips for dealing with these kinds of situations!! All of the stories I have of crazy annoying office coworkers comes from an office job I quit over a year ago! Best thing I ever did!!!!! I left a stuck-up management consulting office and now work in a dumpy office with 3 down-to-earth cool guys who could care less about office politics and am loving it!! I’m working on never having to work in an office again but as it is I couldn’t ask for a better office than the one I work in right now!

      Definitely, though, laughter is the way to go because sadly we can’t really punch them in the face as much as we may secretly want to 🙂

      • One of the new teachers whom I had told like a couple weeks ago about the work which he has to get done before end of term (which is tomorrow) told me he hasn’t done anything. Some of his students will be in my class next year so their files are supposed to be included my homeroom, and they are incomplete (missing documents etc).

        I’m pretty anal when it comes to work – I like things to be proper and in order esp when I hand over the job to someone else. When I asked whether he could do it today (only for the 7 kids going into my homeroom) he complained and said he had so much to do blablabla. Best thing was he said I NEVER told him what he needed to do. Like, excuse me? Last time I checked, I was a colleague not a babysitter!

        So coz I got so annoyed I just took the files and took note of what’s missing. At least the next year teacher will have some sort of guide in regards to what’s missing etc.

        I dislike inefficient ppl coz they end up causing me trouble!

  22. Wow, I bet you had NO CLUE how strong of a response you were going to get to this one.

    I teach at a community college, and you’d be surprised how many coworkers fit into the PUNCH IN THE FACE category. Just a few for you:

    – An older coworker who does nothing but complain about how horrible the students are, complain about how the high schools have failed everyone, and how we’re so underpaid that it’s a crime EVERY SINGLE FRIGGIN’ DAY. Also chews with mouth wide open and carries around a rolling suitcase of stuff that knocks into people’s chairs and runs over peoples’ toes (Oscar the Grouch)
    – I know someone that doesn’t return emails or phone calls for weeks, sometimes. And I swear they leave the office on purpose whenever I’m around. (The Invisible (Wo)Man)
    – Some secretaries around the school are needlessly rude to students who come in to ask questions, and once they leave they go “Oh My Gahd, how stupid are they?” or some variation. Um, it’s their job to help students, just a thought (Stupid-calling-stupid)
    – And lots of people like me who are hopelessly depressed to be doing so much work, teaching a heavy load of courses, while being paid so little, but we try to find the good side in everything. I’ll admit it: I annoy myself. (Silver Lining people)

    I could go on, but … ah, how the hallowed halls of academia are full of assholes …

  23. I am so very fortunate to not work with a single really annoying person right now. My company is really big on “corporate culture”, which means they don’t hire a-holes. And, if they do hire one by mistake, they get rid of them promptly. It’s like working in heaven, especially compared to some of my past jobs.

    One of the most bizarre people I ever worked with was Siuox City Sue. She had two or three lawsuits going for things like stubbing her toe in an elevator. And of course, she completely lied on her employment application and the college she suposedly attended had never heard of her. So, we had to let her go. But, we were sure we were going to get sued. Luckily, her lawyer counseled her that it could negatively affect her other pending lawsuits.

  24. Terrible coworkers during my coop work term includes:

    Mr. Anger Management – The guy who if he can’t solve something or if something goes wrong, he throws angry hissy fits. Screams, yells profanity, bangs tables etc.

    Mr. Anti-social – The guy who seems slightly annoyed with everyone and everything. Also seems like he hates his job but comes to work because he has to.

    Mr. Hardworker – The guy who pulls 10+ hour days even though no one ask him to (also not getting paid to work overtime) and he makes remarks when you go home on time.

    Great article, very funny, also great comments.

  25. I forgot one:

    Mr. Loud Talker – in cubicle land, this is so hard to deal with..You know the person who’s voice travels through all the pods anytime he’s on the phone. He has also been known to put his conf calls on speaker.

  26. I work in tech support and the number one problem we encounter is people (usually baby boomers) who have no idea how to use the computer or surf the internet. It’s not our job to teach them how to use a computer but when we say “I’m afraid that’s unsupported,” I have to spend another 10 minutes explaining the term “unsupported.”

    • i hear ya.. my sister was just telling me about this new girl (baby boomer) they hired in her office. She claimed to be experienced with computers but they had to tell her it wasn’t going to work out when she spent 20 minutes trying to send an email from within Excel. I feel bad for them, though, because I consider myself pretty computer savvy but even I can’t keep up with all the new technology.

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