Does your office have any passive-aggressive notes posted in the kitchen, bathroom or elsewhere? I can’t think of anything at my current job, but I can’t resist sharing my best “office sign” story.
One day, at a previous job of mine, a new girl started working. I’ll call her Ramona. Throughout the day, she seemed fairly normal, if a bit awkward. You know they type: She’d make uncomfortable small talk, skittish eye contact. She didn’t get jokes, and couldn’t make any herself. She also was frumpy and boring.
At the end of the day, I went to the restroom, as I always did before my long drive back home. Most everyone had left, except for my boss and me.
When I came back, my boss was holding a tiny slip of paper. She looked incredulous. “Ramona just went around and left these on everyone’s chairs,” she whispered to me while keeping a look-out for Ramona. “Then she clearly regretted it, and came back around and tried to pick them all back up. I told her I threw mine away.”
My boss handed the typed note to me. It said:
“Hi! Please remove all old items from the fridge by date xxx. I will be cleaning the fridge and appreciate your cooperation. If you don’t throw them out, I will. Thanks — Ramona”
She had also left a similar but larger note on the office fridge.
I was perplexed. As far as I knew, this wasn’t part of Ramona’s office duties — I mean, you know, she wasn’t hired to be an “administrative assistant” or one of those workers who might get stuck with crappy duties like cleaning the fridge. So, clearly, Ramona had some issues. Some obsessive-compulsive cleaning issues.
While bizarre, I have to admit, the tiny note gave me great entertainment for my long, traffic-filled ride home: Did Ramona know she had committed a major office faux pas on her first day? Was her fear of a stinky, disorganized fridge so overwhelming that she’d had to combat it by leaving a tiny note on everyone’s chair? Why did she change her mind and try to erase the evidence? What did she think her boss would think of her wasting office time on that task? Or, even, what if she typed it up the night before, from home, knowing full well that the office fridge would likely be gross? How many roommates had she driven insane?
As a coping mechanism, my boss and I dubbed Ramona “N.G.” for New Girl. It allowed us to openly email gossip about her, asking catty questions like “N.G. leave any tiny notes today?”/“No, she didn’t but she did tell me all about her mosquito bite!”/“Fascinating!”
Before long, I got a new job, and no longer had to deal with Ramona. But my boss emailed me one day to say Ramona had left too, and my boss knew some people Ramona worked with at her new job. Apparently, she struck again. “Oh no,” my boss said. “N.G. did it AGAIN!”