For some time now, I have occasionally offered up my advice in posts I have titled “Dear Nathan.” Normally, these letters are hunted down by yours truly so that I can give the advice that other advice columnists (the main one rhyming with “Smear Cabby”) are afraid or far too stupid to offer up.
For the first time ever, though, a person has actually sought out my advice. At least, I believe it was a person. It might be the Loch Ness monster or some sort of underground dwelling mole creäture. The internet is a strange place, so who knows.
Point being, SOMETHING has requested my advice with a very difficult situation. I am, of course, more than happy to throw some advice their way.
DEAR NATHAN: My workplace is a semi-hostile environment where people bully each other for sport. However, I have managed to make friends with a few of the non-bullies, but there is a particular girl, who thinks that just because I have befriended her, that I have earned the unique privilege of sharing my lunchtime with hers every day.
She comes in my office looking for me shortly before lunchtime, makes me eat in her crowded office space and then controls the rest of the hour by making me accompany her to the mall nearby. I mean, I appreciate her company, but sometimes I want to be by myself or do something else on my lunch hour. I never stated to her my lunchtime was now going to be solely bestowed upon her and her whims.
She can be bossy too! Today I clearly stated I wanted to eat by myself and then run a quick errand, yet she insisted I should go with her to the mall again. I politely said: “no, if you want to go, go ahead, I’m staying.” She responded with a harsh: “you’re an impossible and maniacal woman.”
I am usually non-confrontational and I hate hurting people’s feelings, but really, where did she get the idea she now owns my spare time? I have no clue. The whole thing has started to get out of proportion, since now I sometimes even get a text message from her, during morning time, saying: “Let’s go to ‘X’ place during lunch.” What should I do to get her off my back?
~OVERWORKED, UNDERPAID & HARASSED BY DERANGED CO-WORKERS
DEAR OVERWORKED, UNDERPAID & HARASSED BY DERANGED CO-WORKERS: Before I offer up my advice, I would like to congratulate you on devising the longest name in the history of advice letters. If you hadn’t abbreviated the word “and,” it would have created a nearly untouchable record that would stand the test of time.
Now, on to the subject at hand.
Working in a place full of bullies can be tough. I don’t know this from experience as I have no coworkers that browbeat people for fun, though I did once have a coworker hit me with a rubber band. I think it was an accident, but on second inspection, it might have been bullying. Really terrible bullying, but bullying nonetheless.
There are quite a few ways to keep this woman away from you. You could “accidentally” spill your food all over her every time she tries to eat with you. She might take the hint after your freshly microwaved tomato soup causes her to need skin grafts.
If the skin grafting tactic doesn’t work, you could be super disgusting. Slurp, belch, fart, clip your toenails, whatever it takes. As an “impossible and maniacal woman,” this behavior would not be out of the ordinary for you.
The third way (and, in my opinion, the most fun way) would require a large costume budget. Simply hide from her in plain sight. She will walk around the office asking “Do you know where ________ went to? We were supposed to go to the mall and get our navels pierced.” She will have no idea that the man with the thick moustache that is repairing the copy machine or the window washer hanging from the side of the building is actually her mall buddy!
The last way, and frankly the least exciting way, would require a great deal of pluck. When she says “Let’s go to the mall and stare at the cute guy at the Wetzel’s Pretzels,” simply say “No.” You can be as rational as you want or you could lie and say you were banned from the mall because they found your nude morning speed walk to be “distasteful.” When she calls you names, ignore her because she sounds a bit obnoxious anyway. If she persists, distract her with a shiny object until she forgets about lunch.
She will probably be mad. She might storm off in a huff and will probably slam a door or two. She might even flip you off as she walks by your office every day. Eventually, though, she will most likely get over it. If she is able to get past this, maybe you can be friends.
If not, you can just go into hiding in Mexico. She will never find you there.
Happy eating lunch in peace and quiet and never wasting your lunch hour looking at Fifty Shades of Grey in your local Barnes and Noble again,
If you have a major problem, let me know. Maybe I can solve it. Probably, I’ll just make it worse, but I promise I’ll try not to.
- Dear Nathan (badlandsbadley.wordpress.com)