update: coworker is constantly eating, burping, and watching YouTube videos and then asks for hugs

Remember the letter-writer whose coworker spent the day eating, burping, watching bizarre YouTube videos, and then would ask her for hugs? Here’s the update.

After suffering through increasingly obnoxious levels of gross from my office mate, I finally could not take it anymore and decided that I couldn’t continue to sit there day after day, desperately thinking of ways to cling to my sanity. I had to come up with a short term plan in addition to a long term plan that would include finding other employment eventually…but in the meantime, I was in no position to quit my job because some asshat was looking for pervy hugs and endless YouTube entertainment. I may have mentioned this already, but I am a 40-year-old widowed mother of two small children, which means I am my only source of health insurance and income. My late husband had no life insurance at the time of his death, so it’s not as if I’m sitting on a small nest egg that I could use to tide me over until a better job opportunity came along. I have to be practical and provide for my children and if that means putting up with uneducated swine at my office, then so be it, but I was hoping to find a way to make it more tolerable.

Since my office is a very small world, so to speak, I was worried about repercussions of my complaining or “tattling,” as it was sure to be seen as. One day I finally decided that I simply didn’t care if I looked like a whiner to everyone else once word got out that I complained about this otherwise sweet, funny, endearing hillbilly that everyone else adored. I knew my boss well enough to know that while he may end up telling the offender it was me who complained, a passive letter to him about the situation would get his attention and force him into action. I’m a bit frustrated that he didn’t nip it in the bud in the first place, but that’s reality.

I wrote my boss a quick and short but very pleasant email, requesting that I be allowed to wear ear buds while at my desk. I went on to say that I would still be able to hear the phone to answer it, would quickly take them out when anyone came to my desk to speak with me, etc. I cited the loud music videos and tractor pulling contests on YouTube and such as “a bit of a distraction when I am entering data or conducting business on the phone” as the reason for my request.

I knew for a fact that I would never be granted permission to wear earbuds; it’s just not feasible in my job. Of course that’s not why I wrote the email to my boss. I simply wanted him to be aware of a TINY amount of what was going on and I knew that this was a way to have him address the issue. Within minutes of sending the email, my boss, who was actually out in the field working, got the email on his phone and called me immediately. He was concerned, and we never addressed the earbuds at all but instead got to the heart of the problem and he said he would take care of it immediately and if the behavior continued, he wanted to know ASAP. By the next morning, the office mate made himself more scarce and did not blast the videos and 1970′s era old timey country music performances as he had been.

I did not get blowback from others in my office, but I did have some very loud comments made to me by my lovely officemate, only when my boss was not around, naturally. There would be a little conversation between him and other workers and all of a sudden he’d raise his voice to make sure I heard him and say something like, “Well god forbid I look at a YouTube video.” Or “You all better not click onto YouTube because apparently it ‘bothers’ some people around here.” Quite typical comments that someone would expect to hear coming from a narcissistic asshat.

Things were much better. The slurping and burping and belching and such were still a problem but at least the blaring bullcrap had stopped. Interestingly, he decided to retire a few months later. I guess coming to work just wasn’t as fun for him anymore. Besides the birth of my children, his first day of his retirement was one of the best days for me. I feel like my sanity is somewhat restored and I don’t feel as much dread when I am at my office.

Overall, I do feel that I need to find a different job, one that fits my personality better. My job is stable, although not particularly well paying, and generally the people I work with are great and helpful. I work for a small city government and unfortunately most of the interactions I have with the public are negative because they are usually very angry about a slight they think the city has foistered upon them…like requiring them to actually pay their utility bill. I am a very non-confrontational person and I also don’t think paying my own way is a bad thing, so it’s a bit unnerving to be in a job that in itself requires me to enter into combative situations with a public who has no problem calling me names or making outrageous demands that no sane person could fulfill..and even if I could, these same people would complain that it wasn’t good enough. There’s a lot of negativity and it’s killing my soul. I do need to find other employment but I’m not sure what that would be, to be quite honest. In the meantime, I have to make do to provide for my children and suck it up when the going gets rough.

I hope my update is helpful to anyone else that may be reading about it..or at least gives someone else a bit of a distraction from their own belching, slurping, hugging perv at the office.

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