About Your Keen Interest in My Personal Life

Dear Ron,

How are things? This weather we've been having lately has been just beautiful, hasn't it? There's nothing quite like waking up in the morning to a warm breeze and the sound of birds chirping. (Unless those birds just started nesting in your gutters. Good luck trying to rid yourself of that situation, am I right?)

Say, I just heard your daughter's selling those cookies again for a fundraiser. Me and the wife have been craving those little coconut things ever since we finished off our order from last year. So sign us up for double this time!

Now...see what I did there?

No prying questions about what you did last night or plan on doing tonight. No planning of future endeavors with our families. No prodding about your life in any too-specific manner. It's the definition of small talk, which is something I've been meaning to explain to you for the longest time, but doing so coincidentally goes beyond the boundaries of small talk, thus violating my own rule.

Well, your invitation to go camping this weekend got me thinking that an exception needs to be made with this rule.

Let me back up for a second. There's a reason I haven't friended you on Facebook. It's because we work together. We're coworkers. That's all. I have nothing against you, personally, aside from the fact that you keep trying to get to know me...personally. Don't misunderstand, if you're curious what I thought of last night's American Idol or how that garden project of mine is coming, feel free to ask. And I'm more than happy to swap stories about the recent increase in employee lunch theft because that's related to work. And that's how I know you.

...From work.

See, we didn't go to high school together, grow up in the same city, or attend the same space camp as children. So it's bewildering that you keep talking to me as if we've known each other since we were fetuses. (Regardless of what your mother's womb told you, we were never BFFs.) You have to understand there's a pretty thick line between casual chat and personal intrusion that, as my coworker, you should be able to navigate better. For instance, I didn't think much of it when you suggested the next time I grill steaks that I try marinating them in beer for a few hours. On the other hand, when you forwarded me a list of all the local cooking classes you've been dying to take with a partner...
What I'm saying is, don't expect an invitation to one of my barbecues any time soon. I'm not saying that because I dislike you as a person so much as I dislike the idea of you being my friend. Let me reiterate: I do not hate you. But I don't think I'd particularly enjoy you outside of work, either. You're a see-you-at-the-office kind of person is all.

You're not going to change my mind by "subtly" hinting that you bought way too much beer for this weekend and could really use somebody to help drink it. Granted, I'll give you points for appealing to my inner alcoholic, but if your true intention is to get rid of a few excess cold ones, why don't you just go ahead and drop them off at my front door? That would be neat.

So please, in the future, let's try to keep this relationship casual. And by casual I mean let's communicate through email from now on.

See you around the office,
Your coworker


re: Vacation Request Denied

Hey boss,

I noticed that my vacation request for next week was denied. That's a real bummer, you see, because I had major plans coming up for that week. But you already knew that; you read my request.

So I have just one question: do the words "Saved by the Bell marathon" mean nothing to you?

Maybe I understated it when I wrote "Saved by the Bell marathon!!!!" as my reason for needing some time off. First of all, I should have used at least another three exclamation points to describe the importance of such an epic vacation. But I left its importance subtly implied, so I'll concede that was probably my mistake.

But I truly need these days off. As you may know, it's been a stressful few months and...I don't know, it would just really help me, personally, to take a few dozen hours and watch Kelly Kapowski play beach volleyball or sing along with Jessie Spano's rendition of "I'm So Excited." And I'm prepared to spend every hour of the next few days trying to convince you that I deserve this.

Would it sway you at all if I told you they were even including The College Years episodes? Are you one of those SBTB fans?

Also, if it makes you feel any better about letting me take time off for this, what you might call "silliness," I know for a fact that several other people have done and will be doing the exact same thing. So quit hating on my vacation or I'll be forced to pull a patented Zach Morris Timeout (which would involve me throwing up the "T sign" just before throwing my elbow into your face).

To be clear, I don't want it to escalate to that.

Your "preppie" employee



Dear Gwen,

I've been trying to figure out the best way to tell you this. It's kept me up the last few nights, actually. Don't worry though, I've been catching up on some episodes of Cheers that I missed the first time around. (That Sam Malone really is a player, isn't he?)

Ok, here's the thing: you know how, when you notice something peculiar about someone--like, say, they smell like peanut butter--you can't help but fixate on that one thing every time you see that person? You know, you want to chat about the weather or politics or that episode of Cheers you watched last night but all you keep thinking is, "why do you smell like peanut butter?" I guess what I'm trying to say is that you smell like peanut butter.

All day, every day.

I don't mean to be rude or blunt but it's just...why do you always smell like peanut butter? I honestly don't understand. The first time I smelled it on you, I figured you'd just eaten a peanut butter sandwich and forgot to pop a breath mint. And then, the very next day, I smelled it again. And it was well before lunch, so unless you have frequent, midday peanut butter snack breaks, I have to suspect there's something else involved here. I don't even think it's your breath because you're not always talking when the Skippy hits my nose. It has to be, like...a part of you.

Is it your perfume? Do they make peanut butter scented perfume? What a niche market that must be.

Do you carry around little sticks of peanut butter with you? Keep 'em in your pocket in case of a peanut butter emergency or something? Or maybe you've just left an excess of peanut butter jars open around your home and the scent is now ingrained in you, chasing you around like Sam did to Diane for the first five seasons and then Rebecca for the remaining six. (Sorry, that show is just so good.)

Whatever the case, I think we should brainstorm a way to solve this. If you wanted to get together via email or Facebook or we could text or do almost anything but speak, physically, in the same room, I'd be more than happy to troubleshoot this issue.

...maybe you could start using jelly as deodorant? See, and that's just off the top of my head!

Smell ya later,
Your coworker


How about that lunch of yours?

Dear Steven,

I missed you at lunch today. I must've gone on break just after you finished. Darn the bad timing, right?

How was your sandwich? It certainly looked delicious, all that prosciutto and provolone stacked lovingly under a layer of sweet honey mustard and zippy ranch dressing. And that bread! A plump, soft, melt-in-your-mouth kaiser roll that looked like it had been lightly buttered and then sprinkled with, what was that, rosemary? Mmm mmm. That sounds pretty amazing right about now.

I actually thought about having the exact same thing today. No kidding! In fact, when I packed my lunch this morning I thought to myself, "Boy, a ham and provolone sandwich would go awfully good with these new jalapeno-flavored kettle chips!"

That reminds me, Steven, how were your chips? Were they tasty? Did you appreciate their crispness and subtle blend of sweet and salty notes? I sure hope you savored each mouthful of those crunchy, peppery snacks, as I don't suspect you'll be enjoying them again anytime in the near future.

Because if you even think about taking my lunch one more time, so help me God, I will take you down. I will urinate on your breakfast bars, dip your keyboard in vinegar, and replace the creamer in your coffee with my own, private milk. You know what I mean. Seriously, if you even so much as steal a sideways glance of my knapsack, I will poison everything in your kitchen.

And another thing: what am I supposed to eat for lunch now? Did you think about that during your petty lunch thievery? I clearly didn't possess the foresight to know someone was going to steal my food, so I went ahead and just packed the one lunch for today. Darn my lack of psychic abilities, right?

I did the due diligence and searched for anything I thought might be your lunch, just in case we were involved in some sort of lunch swap that you forgot to tell me about, but I didn't find a litter box or any rotten potatoes. (Attached to this note you'll find a packet of breath mints. Take the hint.) So I'll assume you forgot to bring yours and were too cheap to walk across the street to get a hamburger.

So here's the deal: you keep your grubby hands off my future lunches and, in return, I don't sprinkle your world with asbestos. (I know a guy.)

Your coworker


Re: the flaming turd rebuttal

Seriously guys?

If you didn't like my first note you could have responded with something less smelly and much less on fire. You've left me no choice but to start locking my desk drawers when I leave for the night.

I hope you're happy with yourselves.

Your coworker


To my fellow employees:

All right. We all know that I'm not a huge fan of a lot of you. And your oh-so subtle hints (flaming bags of turds in my desk drawer) have proven that the feeling is mutual. But what do you say, just for now, we all try to get along?

I'm tired of having to buy new staplers and pens all the time.

Your turded-out coworker