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Office Etiquette 101

Office Etiquette 101

I saw some interns ringing the opening bell for the NYSE the other day – I completely forgot it’s intern season, seeing as the goliath that is is run by only Chilly.  No interns.  It’s pretty sad, actually, because I loved intern season.  As a green associate at TARP BANK I, it was great having interns because they served as additional reinforcements to do the idiotic tasks required by the retarded senior bankers.  Lots of research project type stuff.  At TARP BANK II, I got more involved on the hazing side of things, so it was more of a personal enjoyment type scenario.

Anyway, I used to help these newbies understand a few things about how the cubicle world works for their first few days on the job.  While this stuff has a bit of a banking tilt to it, I believe it translates to practically any work environment, such as consulting, forensic sciencing or coal mining.  Feel free to add anything I’ve missed in the comments below.

How to Not Be Hated By Everyone In Your Office

1.  Turn off your fucking computer speakers – Do you hear that “ding” sound every time you enter an incorrect formula in excel?  No, you don’t hear it?  Well, you apparently don’t have the well-trained ear of a seasoned banker.  Those fucking dings haunt my nightmares.  They are almost as bad as the dreaded extra space in a line of text that is client-bound.

Turn off the speakers – we don’t need to hear the dings, the ESPN video commentary that you get when just trying to get a simple recap of the Braves game, or the audio from that hilarious “awesome beer pong shots” video on YouTube.

2.  Don’t even think of turning on some music – Being new, I know you want to show how cool you are by making your indie music preferences known to all by plugging in your iPod speakers.  (Heaven forbid if you even consider doing this before 8:00 PM – the penalty for that shit is death)  Great, everyone else who is stuck in the office gets to hear your awesome playlists.

Reaction you think will happen – “Man, Wilco really is more than just a bunch of sterling reviews, this new kid is allright!”

Reaction that actually happens – “Whose fucking music is that?  That new fucker??  Goddam I should go rip his throat out!  I can’t get a return greater than 3.0% at anything less than 25.0 DEBT/EBITDA for a pitch due tomorrow AND I have to listen to some fucking retards whine about how tough life is on a bus?  No way is this kid getting a full-time offer.  He’s done.  And I’m going to make sure he gets staffed with Dr. Urgency all summer.”

3.  Be a responsible printer user – I could without question write a 300 page treatise on printer etiquette alone, but my editor (a bottle of Menage) has asked that I be brief.  So, a few key points:

Don’t print 10-K’s, 10-Q’s or other absurdly long documents on local printers – send that shit down to the print shop and have it double-sided and bound.  That way you might actually be able to, you know, use the fucking thing rather than having a 600 page slab that a binder clip can barely corral and that you cannot navigate through with any real purpose.

Seriously, these printers suck, DON”T PUT SUPER-LONG SHIT IN THEM.  They will break down, causing everyone who uses that particular printer to have to move to another printer.  This printer migration is basically what caused the beef in Darfur, so heed my words.

Put paper IN the printer periodically. I know these appear to be magical machines that churn out endless streams of documents, but do you see those huge stacks of reams of white paper sitting next to the printer?  Sometimes the printer actually disburses all the blank pages in its innards – someone has to put some of those reams of paper inside the printer for it to continue its magical journey of helpfulness.  Yes, you have to first remove the external wrapping from the paper reams, then you open one of the trays that make up the bowels of the mythical beast.  Don’t forget to shut the bowel door.

Don’t put in enough paper to do only your fucking job! Too many times in my unfulfilling, unsuccessful career I walked over to a printer that was completely out of paper before my job even started.  Couldn’t even print one page.  Sure, this could be just a coincidence, but most likely the bastard before me realized the printer was empty, but only had two pages left to print, so he/she put exactly two lingering blank pages in.  Again, death is a reasonable punishment here.

If you are the most junior person, and you are near the printer, it becomes partially your responsibility. I know that sounds idiotic, but everyone who has a problem with the printer will ask you about it.  “Is this thing jammed?”  “Does double-sided work on this one?”  All kinds of stupid shit.  So when you are junior, and are using that printer, take an extra two seconds to make sure there’s paper in it, and call the tech guys whenever it’s out of ink, jammed, or whatnot.  That’s your job.

(It could be worse – you could be seated near the fucking Bloomberg.  That was my curse for three years; ten people per day would ask me about obscure keystrokes required to attain obscure information.  Bankers don’t even use Bloomberg all that much!  Except for retard Directors who want to pretend they are digging deep for crucial information that they can leverage at their next important meeting – they are invariably just checking stock prices that they could just as easily check on Yahoo! Finance.  Oh, and where do you find LIBOR on Bloomberg?  BBAM, Go.  You’re welcome, now stop asking me shit like that.)

An all-too-common sight in any office environment
An all-too-common sight in any office environment

4.  Shut the hell up while on the elevator –  You’re young, possibly naive, and maybe even excited about your new job.  You are amped up to tell your newfound buddies all about the cool profiles you get to do on all the Defense & Aerospace companies that could potentially utilize ShamWow technology in their businesses.  Please, save all the loud talking and laughing for when you are out of the elevator, no one needs to hear it.  Consider the other passengers are likely either: 1) Enjoying the last few moments of relative solitude before returning to their personal pea-green carpeted house of horrors, or 2) Trying to enjoy a few minutes in their happy places as they run out for the only thing they truly have any ownership of: their lunch destination. (Don’t worry, these poor souls are rushing back with a to-go order so they can listen to the replay of an earnings call that their boss requested they listen to, as opposed to reading the word-for-word transcript.)

5.  Actually, shut the hell up in general.  Then, when asked to speak, know some fucking answers and offer them confidently. This probably goes back to my southern upbringing (“kids should be seen and not heard” or “kids should not speak until spoken to” or “I will hit you in the head with this brush if you don’t shut up about going to get an ICEE”) but there is a lot of downside to being too talkative.  Yes, in banking specifically there is also downside to being too quiet (never from me though, in my opinion quietness is next to cleanliness, which is alongside godliness), but as a very new person it’s best to shroud yourself in mystery.  Being the quiet guy/girl who knows all the answers is far superior to being the frat guy from the Big Ten who has already proven himself an idiot by talking about football way too much with people who are only familiar with squash and Hamptons summer rental pricing.

6.  Speaking of shutting the hell up, watch what you say on the phone.  It’s a cube, basically everyone can hear your dumb ass! Some interns/new folks actually believe their cubicles to be offices, complete with imaginary doors and windows.  Those aren’t imaginary windows – that’s just fucking air, which is a great medium for transporting the idiocies that are coming out of your mouth as you wait for your $60 of Seamlessweb to materialize.  Everyone on the floor can hear you talking to your boys at Iowa State about how you are going to parlay this banking gig into a job at Duquesne after one year (you aren’t).  And about how many girls you are going to score when you go back for homecoming (you won’t, and FYI – going back for homecoming, etc is mega-lame your first year out of school.  Man up and let it go.)

Man, this is getting long and I’m just getting started….will have to do a part II (and maybe part XXILLVXLV) as wanted to get something posted before noon…I’m not sure what’s going on with the font here, looks to have magically changed to Arial.  Ironically, one of the big no-no’s in banking was to have Arial text.  Arial was for Excel only, text was all about TNR.  Fuck it, I’m out of that world, I’m gonna let my Arial flag fly.

Part II coming – and let’s hear your thoughts on the topic!  Consider this our chance to make the world a better place,