I usually sit at my desk with my headphones on and focus on the tasks I’m assigned, but when I skip a song on Pandora and have a brief moment of silence, I will hear her making extended personal phone calls or singing to herself with her music blaring. I have to call students and it’s very hard to hear them over all the noise and even harder to remain professional with this going on.
In the middle of the day yesterday, she got up and said she needed a break and started dancing. There were students walking down the hallway as she was doing this. Today, she brought her brother, who was home from college, to work because he would be “bored” by himself sitting at home all day. Not only is this weird to me, but we work with confidential student information and he is just looming over her desk with student files spread out everywhere. Our boss is out of the office until after the first of the year and the other coworkers didn’t seem too bothered by this, and, if they are, they are really good at not showing it. I just feel it’s really unprofessional, and also distracting, since I’ve been working on student files all morning, and she and her brother have been watching uncensored comedy central specials for the better part of the day.
Am I being ridiculous? Should I say something to my boss when I get back and request to be in an empty office that no one is using? I don’t want her actions and the fact that we share this space together to make people think I don’t work my ass off when I do. It’s only been three weeks and I don’t think I can work like this. — Workin’ My Ass Off!
I have several thoughts about this which I hope you won’t mind that I list at bullet points rather than write out in paragraph form because it’s Christmas week and the regular rules and ways of doing things are often bent slightly when otherwise hard-working, disciplined people are distracted by the — Oooh! Pretty lights! Shopping! To-do lists! Cookies, yum! I gotta bake a lasagna for dinner tonight!!
1. You work at a college. It’s the end of December. At a college. No one — not anyone! — gives two shits about anything by the end of December in an academic setting. Your co-worker is probably just blowing off steam after a long semester (and whether she’s a student or not doesn’t matter; everyone who works at a college thinks in terms of semester and the end of semester, especially the one that ends right before Christmas, which means dancin’ in your office).
2. If you have a problem with your office-mate, just TALK TO HER ABOUT IT. Seriously, what is all this, “Should I tell our boss on her?” BS when you haven’t even talked to her about what’s bothering you?! Chances are, she’s been without an officemate for a while, or the person who had your desk before you was super chill and laid back and took dance breaks all the time, too. My point is, you’re just as new to her as she is to you, so if you’d prefer she turn her music down or not sing to herself or not bring family members to work or not have dance breaks — but really, what’s wrong with dance breaks?! — just ask her not to.
3. No one is going to look at her dancing and think to themselves that YOU aren’t working hard, especially if they know her and already seem unfazed by her behavior.
4. You will have plenty of opportunity to prove how hard your work your ass off. No one is really paying attention to you in the last weeks of the semester.
5. There’s an empty office that no one is using?! Well, duh: of course, you should make a play for it! But don’t outright request it, and definitely don’t use your poor officemate as your reason for wanting it. Just say something like, “I noticed that there’s an office that isn’t currently being used. Is there a plan for it? I’m new here, so I probably don’t know all the ways we could use a space like that, but I couldn’t help but think it would be a good place for us to meet privately with students when they come in/ call students in private/ have dance breaks and marathon Comedy Central viewing parties.
6. What Pandora stations do you listen to? My favorites are Youth Lagoon, Animal Collective, Willie Nelson, Paul Simon, Billie Holiday, Chet Baker, and Dean Martin Christmas!
You can follow me on Facebook here and sign up for my weekly newsletter here.
If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at firstname.lastname@example.org.