Etiquette Hell = Where the ill-mannered deserve to go


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Co-Workers or Cow-Orkers or Co-Irkers?

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I once had a co-worker I'll call George.   George was gay, a fact which I wouldn't bother mentioning except that it has relevance to my story.   Most gay men I've met are as matter-of-fact about their sexual preference as are the heterosexual men I know - it's just the way they are, and they don't make a big deal out of it.    George, on the other hand, despite having every stereotypical "gay mannerism" in the book (think Jack from "Will & Grace") seemed determined to convince people that he was straight.  I could sympathize with this wish to a degree - the other men in the office weren't exactly poster boys for tolerance - but George's methods of appearing straight were laughable.  If you've seen the movie "All of Me" starring Steve Martin and Lily Tomlin, you might recall a scene in which Lily has to act like a man.  Not knowing too much about men, she starts spitting, scratching herself, and calling women "toots".  That was George.  

When our boss threw a pool party to celebrate the building of his new deck, George got drunk and groped my breasts in front of everyone.  I slapped him across the face - not hard - but hard enough to get the point across.  Giving up on me, he sexually molested almost every other female co-worker there - grabbing their behinds, touching their breasts, making suggestive remarks, etc.  The following Monday, our boss gave him a very stern talking-to and let him know that if he ever did that again, he'd be fired.  Fortunately, he got the message, but he still made obscene remarks about female actresses and models every chance he got.   I heartily wished that he'd just "come out" already and give us a break.



Here's one for everyone who's ever felt weird in the workplace thanks to some coworker who doesn't know the difference between being friendly and being rude.

I was a newspaper reporter for a small-town weekly. This was a couple of years ago, when I was still at community college and living in that town with my parents. "Dave" had been a reporter there for years and was in his late sixties, so I guess those two things made him a little TOO comfortable in the workplace.

Our boss, the editor, made all of the male employees complete sexual-harassment training on CD-ROM one afternoon. One by one the guys went into the editor's office, ran through the CD-ROM in about fifteen minutes, and then came back out to go back to work.

I promise I'm not making this up: not FIVE MINUTES after Dave finished with his sexual harassment training, he was sitting at his desk. I was on the phone across the (open) room. When I ended the conversation, Dave looked over at me and said, "You know, you have a really great phone voice." I thanked him for the compliment because I really appreciated the comment. (In ANY job that requires you to deal with other people, whether it's as a news reporter or politician, caterer or attorney, having good phone manners, and a voice that isn't annoying or hard to understand, is very important.)

Then Dave added, "You could be a phone-sex operator."

I told him to drop the subject. Which was infinitely nicer than my first thought, which was to staple his ears to his desk and River dance on the back of his head *a-hem*

Later, I found out that one of our female co-workers had overheard his comment. She told me that he said even nastier things than that to her all the time, and to another coworker. I guess the CD-ROM didn't teach the guy anything at all.



This is a brief item about a temp who once worked in a friend's office. My friend was an editorial assistant for a team of doctors at a prestigious university medical center. She edited articles, grant proposals, and books the doctors wrote.

I've worked as a temp myself for several prolonged periods and know that a common-sense guideline is that if you MUST bring personal items in, such as a small family photo or coffee mug, make sure it's something that fits in your purse and that you can and do take it home every night. You never know when the temp agency might call and say, "They don't need you anymore," and many temp jobs are for indefinite periods.

The temp in my friend's office showed up on her first day with a large twine-handled paper shopping bag and proceeded to spend her first 15 minutes taking out and arranging more than 20 blown-glass Disney figurines on the desk top. Once she had the desk decorated to her satisfaction, she got around to looking at a detailed list of work she was to do, stared around at the staff and unblushingly said she didn't know how to get the computer started.

At midmorning, she went into the break room for a much-deserved break. She immediately decided she didn't like where the microwave oven was placed and moved it to atop the mini-fridge. Something about the proximity of the heating units made this a bad idea, because when she used the microwave a short time later to heat a cup of water for her tea, the microwave caught fire, melting something internal and ruining the microwave beyond repair. She was unapologetic and defensive.

She lasted two full days before packing up her figurines.



I am at my new job for about 7 months now and I'm always known to be very trendy so I do get quite a few compliments on my daily attire. I have this one co-worker that annoys me whenever she compliments me on something. She would say i.e. nice shoes... is it new?? She asks me the question "is it new' about 10 times already and I've never responded thinking she could read between the lines (None of your business!!!) I think that it's so tacky don't get me wrong I don't mind the compliment but please don't ask me is it new???!!! If she had ask me 'oh I like your shoes where did you buy them? Then that's is totally different and I would definitely understand that. I want to say to her without being too harsh "what does it matter to you if what I'm wearing is new or not" Tell me if I'm being too harsh. I wouldn't even ask my own sister that question and we are close.


Page Last Updated July 30, 2007