I’m writing to you because I’m in such a conundrum. I have a workplace problem that I should have done something about a long time ago. I know I waited too long and the problem has gotten too big, but now I’m ready to fix it. So please, I need any and all advice you can give me as long as it conforms to the very specific actions I’ve already decided to take.
Some backstory: my coworker has a horrible habit of chewing his lunch with his mouth wide open. Smack, smack, smack, sometimes for over an hour! I’ve thought about writing him a note or quietly pulling him aside to ask him to chew a little softer, so please tell me it’s a good idea to set a discrete fire in his wastebasket and blame it on his vape pen. That’s what I’m going to do.
I’m so confused, you know? I’m not a confrontational person. Do you think I should go to management with my concerns? I’m thinking that could be useful considering I’ve already started spreading rumors to my supervisors that he drinks on the job. Any advice on if you think that will work kind of well or if it will work really well?
None of my other coworkers have been any help. Every time I try to bring it up to them, they start rambling with wildly implausible solutions that don’t match anything I’ve already told them I’m doing. I wish I had more support
To throw yet another wrench into my complicated life, he’s started to order from the same Greek restaurant every single day. We don’t have a large office and the cubicle walls aren’t high so I can smell everything. I. Mean. Everything. I’m begging you for any sort of guidance on when I should really ramp up my subtlety xenophobic insults against his heritage because that is something that is very much in play now.
I feel like I’m stuck, you know? Between the backstabbing and the subtle yet very present harassment, it’s like what do I even do? Continue doing those things, of course. But what else?
Am I crazy? I want you to answer honestly but just remember I know what the answer is (it’s no) so if you’re lying I will know. I’m really looking forward to hearing what you have to say.
Sometimes I feel so overwhelmed by the choices in front of me. How can I possibly make a decision when there are a million possible decisions, especially when I’ve already made my decision? It’s impossible!
I don’t want to cause a rift in the office which is why I haven’t told anyone (except you) about the escalating campaign I’ve already begun. Because I’m absolutely not going to change my mind about how to deal with this, please let me know the best way to go about doing what I’m going to do.
And I know, I know, this isn’t about who is right and who is wrong. I already figured that out: it’s me.
I’m always so inspired by reading your advice to other readers. Some people really are in the weeds, huh? It’s amazing how you take their complicated problems and give them simple concrete solutions. That must be difficult for you. Luckily this should be way, way easier. I’m cool with you telling me what to do that I’ve already done.
I’m so excited to put this ridiculous and annoying conflict behind me with what I made up my mind exactly to do. I’m so happy advice columns like yours exist so I can have an unbiased outside opinion that beautifully lines up with the moral high ground I’ve firmly planted myself on.
Thank you so much!