Dear Lola,

One of my colleagues recently went to human resources with a complaint about me. They reported that I snack while sitting at my desk and it is distracting to their work. When called into human resources, I asked them to show me the written rules pertaining to food and drinks and they had none to share. Nevertheless, they asked if I would be willing to be a team player and resolve the situation by not snacking at my desk. I refused since we typically work 10-12 hour days to meet deadlines and are not given any breaks other than a lunch. While talking with other colleagues who have been called in for the same complaint made against them, I figured out the lone person who hasn’t been called in – she is obviously the person complaining. I want to confront her but I know that will get me into more trouble at work. Do you have any advice on passive-aggressive ways to annoy my whining coworker?


Petty Patricia

Dear Petty Patricia,

This. This question right here. These are the moments when I know my readers have truly come to understand the depth of my wisdom and the best ways to utilize it. If there is anything my species can say for themselves, it is that we have elevated passive-aggressive retaliatory behavior to an art form.

Humans who don’t share their cheese sleep with one eye open at night.

I can certainly sympathize with your anger about a complaint being made when you haven’t broken any rules – and I’m glad you pointed that out to the human resources department. I’m also thrilled that you did not confront your coworker because harassing behavior is most definitely in every rule book across the world. Passive-aggressive tactics live in the grey space between the black and white rules.

Before we go any further, you should know that any tactics I share with you may backfire and land you in the unemployment line.

Think long and hard before you deploy canine war tactics against your fellow human.

Still reading, eh? I would not call that thinking period long, but who am I to argue? On to the strategy designed to bring your coworker to her knees! The best way to avoid trouble is to continue with the business as usual tactic. With slight modifications thrown in. This will give you room to argue your innocence should you get caught by the boss man.

Continue to eat your snacks, but make them noisy. Very, very noisy.

Have you ever noticed how cacophonous carrots are when you crunch into them while they are raw? Now think about how obnoxious the dip container is as you dunk the carrot into it until you hit the bottom. Dunk, knock, dunk, knock, cruuuuuuuunch. It is a healthy and refreshing snack that also has the side effect of driving someone completely insane if they listen to it for too long.

Those eating the snack are unaffected by the noise due to their contented belly status.

Another option is to get a large bag of potato chips and munch away for a few minutes at a time. Do not attempt to eat the entire bag in one sitting as that could lead to some suspicion you are purposely trying to annoy your colleague. Instead, eat a handful of chips throughout the day. Think about it. Each time you open the bag, your coworker will be assaulted with the sounds of the noisy plastic wrapper. Then, she will have to listen to each individual snap of the chip – which usually sounds as loud as a machine gun when eaten in a quiet room. This snap will then be followed by the slightly more quiet, though still not quiet at all, chewing of the chip in your back molars.

The final pièce de résistance of my plan may not be legal in several countries so tread lightly.

Open up a refreshing beverage, take a minuscule sip, then produce an unnecessarily long ‘ahhhhhh’ while you wear a self-satisfied smile on your face. Repeat this process every 10 minutes for the entire workday or until someone runs screaming from the building.

While my tactics work impressively well, I think my species gets away with it because we are so cute and cuddly. I highly doubt human resources will think you are adorable when they get daily complaints about your behavior. It might be a better idea to monitor how often you are snacking and whether it is as unobtrusive as you think. To test this, sit in a quiet room and record yourself eating a snack.

Then listen to it at full volume as you try to balance your household budget.


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