I work in an office and recently had a disagreement with a coworker. Our office uses a communal printer with tables for documents to be stored on the side until they are picked up by the person who generated them – a system set in place by management. I worked on a project for an entire day and sent it off to the printer before being called into a last-minute meeting. I never made it down to the printer. When I came into work the next morning, my papers were missing from the printer table. A coworker admitted she threw it all out because I didn’t bother to pick them up so it must have been unimportant. I was enraged! Due to the nature of the documents, they were not saved and would require me generating them from scratch, which would take another full day to complete.
Lola, I am so irritated. Sometimes meetings run late and work is put on hold until the morning. My coworker knew full well she was wrong because she has done this in the past and been confronted about it. However, this has not managed to curb her behavior in the slightest and she continues to do as she pleases. She seems to view the printer as her own personal device since her office is closest to it.
What’s the best way to handle this when it comes up in the future?
Dear Printing Penelope,
Wow! That was quite a lot to unpack! I could feel your frustration vibrating through the computer screen, which I quite understand since this caused you a significant amount of work in an already busy schedule. What is most shocking to me is that this coworker has a history of doing this in the past and she continues to throw documents in the trash without a care. I can just picture her now, sitting at her desk and hearing the soft whirr of a printer starting up nearby. She reaches over to her handy little timer and sets it for a mere two minutes.
The race is on!
Will the owner of the documents arrive by the buzzer or will another stack of hard work go into the trash can?! The suspense may be the only thing getting your coworker through the day and isn’t that a little sad to think about. While we’re on the topic of feelings, there is actually a clever theory I have stumbled upon through my interactions with the human species.
There is a finite amount of happiness in the workplace, and in order to get more you must steal it from others.
I would like to highlight that this is an untested theory.
Which is precisely where you come in, my human specimen, if you are up for the challenge. In order to increase your happiness at work, you will need to find a way to steal it back from your paper-pitching coworker. Think about how fun it would be to drive her absolutely mad with an incessant flow of whirring from the printer right outside her desk space. Be sure that you print each page of a document separately, racing to the printer noisily each time to collect the individual sheets.
You will end up running several miles so wear comfortable shoes.
However, while your feet will be extremely sore, you will become absolutely giddy as you watch your coworker be noisily interrupted from her work every few minutes throughout the entirety of the day. You will get bonus happiness if you wave and say hello to her each time you reach the printer. Then, just when you think you’ve stolen your quota of happiness, you crank the dial up to 11.
Proceed to the lunchroom and eat her sandwich.
If you have a conscience, it will take this moment to rear its ugly head. Ignore that voice and focus on what I am telling you to do. You must steal your coworker’s lunch to acquire that last piece of obtainable happiness. This coworker has proven she is a master at happiness thievery, and you will surely lose a bit or two of your newly won pieces in the next coming weeks. You know, once she recovers from the war you have waged on her. Just remember the final parting shot from your side…
Be sure to leave the sandwich wrapper on the printer table for her to clean up.
Hold for just a minute, there’s an annoying buzzing sound coming from my right.
My Mommybeast is now lecturing me about scientific testing on human beings and ethical boundaries and blah, blah, blah. I guess this is how she steals her bit of happiness from my deep pool of joy. She’s a gifted thief, I’ll give her that. Mommybeast says I have to give you another option that may actually help your situation instead of making it worse. She and I will have to agree to disagree on this matter. However, I am not in the mood to battle it out this close to my bedtime and risk losing too much happiness. My dinosaur dreams will turn to dinosaur nightmares in which I am running from a T-Rex on a treadmill. I know, it’s scary stuff. So, I will leave you with this bit of wisdom.
Ask management to move the printer away from this coworker’s office.
This should remove the ownership she feels over the machine while also teaching her a valuable lesson about teamwork when she realizes it isn’t always practical to sprint across the building for every sheaf of paper that you need to print.
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