An Open Letter To The Crabby Bitch Who Sits Next To Me At Work

Dear Perma-Crab-Faced Wench,

I would like it to be known that I am tired of knowing exactly when you bluster into the office. Would you like to know how I can tell, despite your relatively slim frame and the five and one-half-feet cubicle walls surrounding me, that you’ve graced us with your sour presence?

You are angrily huffing and puffing as you clomp and stomp your ill-fitting clodhoppers like a bitchy Transformer all the way to your poor desk, who did nothing to deserve having its meek little drawers flung open so violently, or its timid surface slammed on by your fashionably humungous handbag (which seems to contain a pile of rocks). To your credit, you fill in any pleasant gaps of noise with more huffing and puffing and sighing, as if you were some sort of ghetto dubstep record (which is all of them).

During my first week here, everyone else was pleasant and either introduced themselves to me, or, as is usually the case in corporate settings, said hello and made small talk as if they knew me already (without knowing that they had no idea who I was). You on the other hand, acted as if I had farted in your coffee while trash-talking your grandmother – you have a permanent scowl on your face, in your voice and generally in the way you carry yourself.

I wanted to give you the benefit of the doubt, that perhaps you were suffering from a breathing difficulty like asthma, or that maybe it was a one-off-huff-puff and that you were just having a shit day.  But no, you huff and puff and sigh angrily and bam and smash things all day, every day, like a self-loathing, everyone-loathing, corporate yeti.

You seem to eat the same thing every day (cold oatmeal-covered steroids?), because I hear the same angry scrape-scrape-scrape of your spoon against whatever it is you’re threatening down your own throat. I hear the same flinging open of the drawers, the same tossing of the mug (why is it never in pieces??) against the desk, and the same villanous slam-dunk of the wretched remains of it into the bin cowering under your desk. This is an office, not fucking Gladiators. Calm the fuck down. Maybe if you ate some chocolate once in a while you might perk up. Actually, the next time I hear you scraping I am going to toss in half a Chomp bar when you’re not looking. Hopefully you’ll also think it’s poo, because that’s what I think of your attitude. Bitter (like chocolate). Also: poo.

chocolate keybard by Michael Sholk

Because you never eked out more than a grunted sigh in response to seeing me, I’m not sure what the hell I’ve done to provoke this kind of response, since I’ve seen you attempt a smiling conversation with other people in the office, even though the grimace you attempt seems to test the very limits of your naturally bitchy face. So I know you’re not shy. But any encounter we have ever had in the hallway makes me paranoid and uncomfortable, like you’re suddenly going to stun me with your death-laser eyes and I’ll wake up two days later in a bath full of ice with one of my kidneys missing.

The other week, when I was microwaving my peasant cup of (vegan, all-natural) noodles in the break room, you stomped in with your huffing, dressed in what I can only assume was the result of you going to Nordstrom and thinking “this is uncomfortable, revealing, tight, and shows off my man-shoulders and my inability to co-ordinate my hips in a feminine manner”, and clomping your “trying not to walk like a riled-up pigeon” heels. You slammed down your Weight Watchers (why??) twelve-cheese-beefaroni next to the coffee maker with such a thuggish thud that it nearly dislodged the k-cup handle, put your hand angrily on your hip and tap-tap-tapped your foot while staring at me.

Your powers of staring were nothing compared to mine. While you could reduce me to an awkward, sweating, neurotic, lip-chewing mess, my feeble stares at the microwave did nothing to speed up the passage of time. It took me back to the longest three minutes of my life, in June 1999, when the last bit of silence in Biology A-Level exam was punctuated by the humiliatingly loud sounds of my stomach rumbling. I had only had a single hot dog to eat all day, and my abnormally-loud acid churning let out the unholiest sounds for three. long. minutes. Staring at the clock did nothing. Holding in my stomach muscles did nothing. Pushing out the stomach muscles made it worse. Water made it worse, sort of giving the gut something to conduct the damn sound through. Once I left, I had vowed never to let myself go that hungry again. Which brought me to this awkward break room moment.

In the end, I pretended that the food was done/overcooked and made some facetious apology about having your food smell like my food. I mumbled timidly, “have a good one” and then scampered off to eat my pauper’s lukewarm, crunchy, undercooked noodles to avoid having to look at your grimacing mug for the 2 minutes it would have taken to safely cook my food.

I don’t understand why you constantly walk around with a permanent lemon-sucking-face. You went to an Ivy League school, keep fit and active with sports and seem to be in generally good health. You also have a lot of friends, given the sheer amount of personal calls you make on an hourly basis. I notice that you got a big, layerful, 80s-style hairdo makeover with tons of blond highlights/extensions which more than likely cost about three weeks of my pay (but an hour of yours). You’re a permanent employee with a job whose low-visibility (not a bad thing) duties are shared among other people in your business unit, whereas I am doing the work of four people without a safety net, thick and fast deadlines, extremely high-visibility (i.e. high panic) work and way less than a third of your salary.

You are always late into the office and you always leave at least fifteen minutes early. You are constantly on vacation. The Cuntess of Bad Manners, you are always rude and curt to people in your phone meetings and act as if you have somewhere better to be. Why? Did you read this article?

You huff and puff and slam and sigh and fling and throw things so much that, as a human being on the other side of that tiny, non-soundproofed cubicle wall, I have to just assume that I am doing something to piss you off, maybe the sound of my eating, which made me so damn paranoid I now open a bag of crisps with a pair of fucking SCISSORS to minimise the noise of fueling myself. Never mind eating a motherfucking APPLE. Even WATERMELON is too damn loud!

This led me to explore other avenues of loud. My sneezes are loud (but yours have a sort of throat-singing quality to them, too); my stomach-rumblings are loud. I have perfected the art of sneeze repression (hold your breath ’til the tickle passes, then sniff to redistribute the nostril-tickling agents), but to remedy stomach-rumblings, I need to eat food (and like you and everyone else, it will be at my desk). So STFU.

Why can’t you be more like the adorably-sweet, constantly-smiling, Julie Benz-like lady who sits behind you? Your demeanour is that of a “fed up bitch” as opposed to a “maudlin, help-needing, depressed soul”. I know because I’ve been both. It’s a shame, because the more I see you, the more I feel compelled to avoid you, and I would have liked to have chatted with you like I do with everyone else in the building, even the cleaners who only speak Latin-American Spanish, and I do not speak any Spanish (I made the foolish decision of taking German in school instead). It’s now an instinct to avoid you. Sometimes I pretend to schedule meetings with you via your Outlook ID so I can see when you’re out of office so that I can RELAX.

So please…stop being such a miserable cow. Or, if you must be a miserable cow, at least have the decency to inject some misanthropic humour into your slumpy-shouldered, platform-heel-stomping, happiness-vacuuming dirge with which you insist on festooning this place.


The lowly temp You Never Speak To

P.S. I am going to gargle pop rocks with Sprite every day with an open mouth until we all move into our new cubicles next week.


2 thoughts on “An Open Letter To The Crabby Bitch Who Sits Next To Me At Work

    • 😀 Luckily, in our new office, I don’t even know where she sits. I know she’s not anywhere near me because I can’t hear any more huffing and puffing over our 12-foot cubicle walls. So she must be on the other side of the office…

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