1. They eat your food when they think you won’t notice.
2. They eat your food when they think you will notice.
3. Although they appear to recognize your presence in their life, you have no evidence they know your name.
4. You have the distinct impression they are accustomed to being treated like a god.
5. Their breath smells like tuna and they do not care.
6. You rubbed them the wrong way one time—one time!—and must now spend your days attempting to atone for your crimes.
7. Their primary occupation appears to be judging you.
8. No matter how sincerely you attempt to connect with them, they seem to live by the philosophy “treat ‘em mean, keep ‘em keen.”
9. They occasionally steal your chair and then stare you dead in the eye, challenging you, as you approach. You give up and retreat to the kitchen.
10. Their frequent calls at two in the morning are a distinct factor behind your accelerated aging.
11. Despite napping throughout the day and taking everyone for granted, their photogenic good looks win them favor and they always seem to land on their feet.
12. They occasionally suck up to you, but only when they want something.
13. Their Instagram account could well suggest vanity, contempt for those in their life, disregard for personal property, and psychopathic tendencies. Through clever branding and a strong focus on personal grooming, however, they have amassed a legion of followers.
14. They always chew their food loudly.
15. Sometimes—when they deign to notice you—you feel good about yourself for a change. Then you realize this is all part of their game and revert to feeling anxious.
16. They knock things off your desk and pretend it’s an accident.
17. They’ve sharpened their claws on your best work at least one time.
18. The social structure you inhabit suggests you are meant to be equals, or perhaps even friends. This suggestion has been ignored.
19. They cross your path and you feel a sense of dread accompanied by heart palpitations.
20. They play with their food, and you sometimes also get the impression they are toying with you. Probably unrelated.
21. No matter how aloof, contemptuous, manipulative, mercurial, dismissive, and exploitative they are towards you, you persist in seeking to win their favor. In your heart of hearts, you recognize your fragile friendship for what it is: a cruelly transactional tie in which they are the overlord and you are the slave. You are an insignificant creature in their world; a mere mouse to be batted between their paws. Nevertheless, for all they make you question philosophical concepts such as whether any tie can exist independent of self-interest, you are determined to continue working towards a foundation of shared respect and cooperation. It is entirely possible they will never want or need (…or knead) you in their lifetime—but if they do, you’ll be there, providing them with free meals, daily companionship, and an exploitable work ethic in exchange for sporadic shows of appreciation. That is, if they ever stop licking their own ass.
Passive-aggressive co-worker: 1-21
Domestic shorthair: 1-21