Etiquette & superstition: letters to pests

Pest: an annoying or troublesome person, animal, or thing; nuisance. Being a pest does not require intention or desire to be a pest. You may be a pest and not even know it. Wouldn’t you rather someone told you?

ETIQUETTE: If you are in a work situation or living environment and you do not know who is stealing everyone’s lunch or leaving junk mail on the lobby floor, it is perfectly fine to post a directly-worded but calm note at the area of offense and not sign your name to it. It’s more of a sign than a note in this case. If you know who the offender is, however, it’s a completely different matter.

If you don’t feel comfortable confronting the offender and their offense is something that is actually interfering with your ability to work or to live comfortably, direct communication is preferred but if you must, find an intermediary. A boss is the appropriate person to talk to if a co-worker’s habits are harassing, unprofessional or intrusive, and an apartment manager is the appropriate person to talk to if a fellow tenant has ignored your previous requests to stop rollerskating in the hallway at 3 a.m. or is leaving his discarded shotgun shells on the floor of the elevator.

A very important point to bring up on this topic, courtesy of Charles Purdy in his quite enjoyable book Urban Etiquette: “… anonymous notes are at best cowardly and at worst threatening: If you can’t attach your name to it, perhaps it shouldn’t be said at all. An unsigned note addressed to a specific person is appropriate only for secret admirers, credit card companies, and kidnappers demanding ransom.”

SUPERSTITION: If you have a rat problem, you should leave a note for the rats. The ancient Greeks recommend a more threatening tone (“… if I ever catch you here again by the Mother of God I will rend you in seven pieces”) than do the countryfolk of the Ardennes or England (more of a “my neighbor has a lot more grain than I do” tack), but the people of New England are particularly New England-y about it. “The letter should indicate precisely the habitation to which they are assigned, and the road to be taken, and should contain such representations of the advantages of the change as may be supposed to affect the intelligence of the animal in question. A sample:


The Greeks say the note should be placed on a rock writing-side up, the Scots think it should be nailed to the wall or placed under the door one expects the rats to exit by, and the Yanks feel it should be folded up neatly and put into the rats’ hole. The Welsh say you should not bother with a request to vacate but instead write out some sort of mysterious “r.a.t.s. a.t.s.r.” acrostic puzzle and shove it into the King Rat’s mouth. I’m not so sure about that last one.

Photo via Boston Public Library feed on Flickr

B-A-N-A-N-A-S

I don’t know. I think I might have stayed on the island.

Published in: on June 25, 2017 at 10:18 am  Leave a Comment  
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The most dangerous game

I had no idea people reacted so violently to shuffleboard. One more reason to never take a cruise.

Long after the getting has ceased to be good

Today is my last day at work, at the job I have held for a little over 16 years. I have been telling people that it’s time for me to move on, find a new path, follow my muse, blah blah. But to be honest, the real reason I am leaving is that I’m scared for my safety. Where there were once funny faces on Post-Its and mysterious creatures made of fruit abandoned in the break room and messages on the garbage cans inspired by Magritte, now there is only violence and mayhem. To wit:

courteous

There is a theory that these signs inspired so much rage because our company has been employing a huge number of temps who are not considered fully “employees,” but this is just a theory. Sometimes people just hate being told to wash their own dishes. And then there are more lunchroom hijinks (please click on all photos for larger versions; it is well worth it):

yourshame

I am supposing he preferred his lunch meat to the free Chinese food, which is perfectly understandable. It should be noted that this email was sent to all US offices as well as the head office in Berlin.

Here is a goodbye note when the author of the above email had finally had enough:

saltmines

Now, I think this would have made sense if it had been sent to the head office in Berlin, as the photo appears to depict some Pennsylvania Dutch versions of Krampus and maybe the head office would have looked at the photo and wondered, “Have we been so naughty as to deserve switches to our bottoms this year?” and been frightened. However, this goodbye note was photocopied and deposited in physical form on certain employees’ desks solely in the LA office, so we recipients were merely frightened in a vague way without understanding the Krampus tie-in. Krampus isn’t really big in LA yet.

Oh, here is a Post-It that my perhaps-too-dedicated assistant affixed to some paperwork after trying to make some sense of something that would never make sense:

blam

That’s never the answer, kid. Especially not for something as dumb as that pile of paperwork. And then finally, here we come to the grandaddy of  something that would never make sense:

garyoverton

I suppose it’s neat to know that you can send an anonymous fax; I never knew that before. I just don’t know why I got this fax, and I don’t think I’ll ever know, and I think if I stick around in the hopes of finding out, something pretty bad might happen.

So off I go to a new, safer career as a roller derby queen or a war correspondent or something. Wish me luck.

Doily

Today (I guess technically it was yesterday) was really tough. The corporation I am currently working for made some “redundancy reductions.” It’s hard for me to say whether they don’t know or don’t care what value they have cost the company by laying these extremely dedicated and experienced folks off.

All I can say is don’t worry, and fly off for greener pastures, folks. These maroons that laid you off can’t even get their torches lit.

Published in: on June 20, 2012 at 11:29 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Words of the day for Thursday, December 3rd

Today’s words are united by a common theme, and most are from a list culled by livejournal user “ozarque” from the book Lost Beauties of the English Language by Charles Mackay.

  • moffle: to do something badly and with no idea how it ought to be done
  • spuddle: to go about something trivial with a lot of fuss, as if it were tremendously important
  • drumble: to do something in such a way as to make clear that one has no idea how to do it
  • eyeservice: work or service done only when the employer is watching

No animated gifs today. We are looking busy.

    Published in: on December 3, 2009 at 11:18 am  Leave a Comment  
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    Escher office solutions

    I called in sick to work today. Stomach troubles. Thinking about the ceiling in my office didn’t help. This is what the ceiling in my office looks like:

    ceiling1
    ceiling2
    If I’m counting correctly, my office has three ceilings and six walls, and I don’t think my intestinal tract can deal with that today.

    Published in: on October 5, 2009 at 12:40 pm  Leave a Comment  
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    On Liz

    I’ve been having this stupid battle with the HR guy at work because he calls me Liz all the time even though I’ve told him repeatedly over a period of months that my name is Elizabeth and I do not like nicknames, particularly that nickname. It’s come to the point where I’m sure he’s deliberately doing it to annoy me, and in another circumstance I might complain about him to the HR guy. So you see my problem, yes?

    Anyway, I’m saying all of this mainly because I’m torn about this story that came up in the news this week about another person named Elizabeth who was called Liz by some unwitting soul. Apparently the person who addressed House Representative Jim McDermott’s scheduler Elizabeth Becton with the unwanted nickname was berated by same in a series of 19 or so emails. I have a sampling of said emails here:

    From: XXX
    Sent: Wednesday, May 27, 2009 5:05 PM
    To: Becton, Elizabeth
    Subject: RE: JPMC Meeting Request

    Hi Liz,

    just checking in on whether the Congressman is available next week. [REDACTED] can confirm a meeting time for you – she is available at [REDACTED].

    Thank you!

    Best,
    XXX

    ________________________________

    From: Becton, Elisabeth
    Sent: Wednesday, May 27, 2009 5:07 PM
    To: XXX
    Subject: RE: JPMC Meeting Request
    Importance: High

    Who is Liz?

    Libby Becton
    Executive Assistant/Office Manager
    Office of Congressman Jim McDermott
    XXXX Longworth House Office Building
    Washington, DC 20515
    XXX phone
    XXX fax
    ________________________________

    From: XXX
    Sent: Wednesday, May 27, 2009 5:07 PM
    To: Becton, Betty
    Subject: RE: JPMC Meeting Request

    Hi Lisa, I thought you went by Liz – apologies if that is incorrect. Best, XXX

    ________________________________

    From: Becton, Lizzie
    Sent: Wednesday, May 27, 2009 5:08 PM
    To: XXX
    Subject: RE: JPMC Meeting Request

    I do not go by Liz. Where did you get your information?
    ________________________________

    Sent: Wednesday, May 27, 2009 5:10 PM
    To: Becton, Beth
    Subject: RE: JPMC Meeting Request

    Hi Zabet, I’m so sorry if I offended you! I thought you had gone by Liz at Potlatch, this was my mistake. Best, XXX

    ________________________________
    From: Becton, Beef
    Sent: Wednesday, May 27, 2009 5:11 PM
    To: XXX
    Subject: RE: JPMC Meeting Request

    NEVER. I hate that name.

    ________________________________

    From: XXX
    Sent: Wednesday, May 27, 2009 5:13 PM
    To: Becton, Liza
    Subject: RE: JPMC Meeting Request

    Hi Elsie, I’m so sorry if I offended you! I must have mis-heard. My mistake! Best, XX

    ________________________________

    From: Becton, Bessie
    Sent: Wednesday, May 27, 2009 5:20 PM
    To: XXX
    Subject: RE: JPMC Meeting Request
    Importance: High

    XXX:

    If I wanted you to call me by any other name, I would have offered that to you. I think it’s rude when people don’t even ask permission and take all sorts of liberties with your name. This is a real sore spot with me. My name has a lot of “nicknames” which I don’t use. I use either my first name or my last name because I row with a lot of other women who share the same first name. Now, please do not ever call me by a nickname again.

    As for your meeting request, who is the point of contact for this meeting? If it’s not you, then I need to know who because it’s very time-consuming to deal with a lot of people for one meeting.

    Thanks,

    ________________________________

    From: XXX
    Sent: Wednesday, May 27, 2009 5:23 PM
    To: Becton, Stinking Lizaveta
    Subject: RE: JPMC Meeting Request

    Hi Buffy, I’m so sorry I offended you! My mistake!

    XXX can confirm a meeting time for you – she is available at XXX XXXX.

    Thank you!

    Best, XXX

    ________________________________
    [UNRELATED EMAILS REDACTED]

    From: XXX
    Sent: Wednesday, May 27, 2009 5:33 PM
    To: Becton, Isabel
    Subject: RE: JPMC Meeting Request

    Of course! Again, I am sincerely sorry for offending you. I must have mis-heard and it was in no way my intention to make you upset. I always enjoy working with you and seeing you at the WSS events J

    Best,
    XXX

    ________________________________

    From: Becton, Zeebz
    Sent: Wednesday, May 27, 2009 5:37 PM
    To: XXX
    Subject: RE: JPMC Meeting Request

    Sounds like you got played by someone who KNOWS I hate that name and that it’s a fast way to TICK me off. Who told you that I go by that name? They are not your friend…

    ________________________________

    From: XXX
    Sent: Wednesday, May 27, 2009 5:38 PM
    To: Becton, Babette
    Subject: RE: JPMC Meeting Request

    Hi Abby,

    Again, I am sincerely sorry for offending you. I don’t want to cause trouble as I clearly must have mis-heard the person at Potlatch. It was in no way my intention to make you upset.

    Best,
    XXX

    ________________________________

    From: Becton, Lizardbreath
    Sent: Wednesday, May 27, 2009 5:41 PM
    To: XXX
    Subject: RE: JPMC Meeting Request
    Importance: High

    I REALLY want to know who told you to call me that.

    ________________________________

    From:XXX
    Sent: Wednesday, May 27, 2009 5:44 PM
    To: Becton, Wizzy
    Subject: RE: JPMC Meeting Request

    Hi Elikapeka,
    Again, I am sincerely sorry for offending you. I don’t recall who I overheard. It was in no way my intention to make you upset.
    Best,
    XXX

    ________________________________
    From: Becton, Ilsa
    Sent: Wednesday, May 27, 2009 6:04 PM
    To: XXX
    Subject: RE: JPMC Meeting Request

    Let me put it this way, they don’t know me and perhaps they were PRETENDING to know me better than they do and pretended that I go by Liz. They did YOU a disservice.

    In the future, you should be VERY careful about such things. People like to brag about their connections in DC. It’s a past time for some. It’s also dangerous to eaves drop, as you have just found out.

    Quit apologizing and never call me anything but Bettina again. Also, make sure you correct anyone who attempts to call me by any other name but Liesl. Are we clear on this? Like I said, it’s a hot button for me.

    And please don’t call the office and not leave a message. My colleague told me you called while I was away at the Ladies’ room. I do sometimes leave my desk.

    (I may have edited the names on the email exchange slightly.) Obviously, Ms. Becton flew off the handle in a completely inappropriate manner and has delusions of grandeur and is a total bitch and probably a very scary person to have as an enemy, especially since she’s on a crew team which means she has massive upper body strength in addition to her psychotic focus. But I still have to defend her here. There’s something about the nickname Liz that just rankles if you haven’t chosen it for yourself.

    And calling but not leaving a message is kind of lame too.

    Published in: on June 19, 2009 at 8:22 am  Leave a Comment  
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    What I’m supposed to be doing

    Lately I’ve been too busy at my job to update Fancy Notions until I get home, and this has been causing me some pain. I long for the days when I could spend my workday doing something fulfilling… something other than “work.” I have to remember to keep my nose to the grindstone, however. As a good friend said recently, “Keeping your job is the new promotion.” Yippee. Nothing motivates as much as the threat of imminent poverty and no health insurance.

    Thankfully, artist David Fullarton‘s installation for the Sisyphus Office exhibition in Houston is giving me some solace. Between his accurate depiction of mind-numbing hours with too many Post-Its, Alan Tanksley’s paperclip chandelier, and Angry Girlfriend’s Binder Clip Dress, I feel like people are finally putting office supplies to good use.

    coworkers

    Published in: on May 31, 2009 at 8:36 pm  Leave a Comment  
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    News you can believe in

    I find that when I get too busy at work, I fall behind in keeping up with the news. And when I can’t keep up with the news, I get a strange feeling of alienation; somebody starts making cracks about Miss California and I have no idea what they’re talking about. I need a news digest program that can help me out. Preferably one with more snap to it than those boring Sunday morning news wrap-up shows.

    Of course I’m ambivalent about the angry gorilla commentator, but other than that, I think I’ve found my new MacNeil and Lehrer. Thanks, guys.

    Published in: on May 3, 2009 at 7:06 pm  Leave a Comment  
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