Saturday, October 15, 2011

Office Stealth

Last week’s post focused on winning at small talk. However, it occurred to me that some of you would rather NOT win at small talk. If you prefer to go through your day without chatting about sports, you will need a lesson in office strategies of war.

Stealth Mode: The best way to deal with the enemy is to not engage.

@daralynnieloo suggests the most obvious, yet very important office stealth tactic: “ hiding within your cubicle.” I recommend you also have a complicated spreadsheet handy you can stare at intently. People will be less likely to bother you if you look busy.

Eventually you are going to have to leave your cubicle to get snacks. When leaving the safety of the cubicle, @daralynnieloo suggests you “dress in an abstract pattern based off colors in your surrounding area, the randomer the better. Also, face paint.” I know what you are thinking, you have a meeting later and that face paint is really hard to wash off. There must be an easier way, like a cloaking device.

While one would assume cloaking devices to be fairly common in the workplace, @heinakroon says, “There are cloaking devices nowadays, but they only work in infrared and microwave spectra so far.” However, I’m pretty sure I can get the microwave in our break room to produce come cloaking technology if people would stop using it to make popcorn. What good is it to be cloaked if you smell like burnt popcorn? It probably won’t help that much.

In fact, @heinakroon most likely already has stealth technology all worked out. He is keeping it under wraps, you see. The problem with stealth technology is that you can never share it because then everyone around you would have stealth. Then you would have to get even stealthier technology to overpower the first stealth technology. Pretty soon you will be so stealthy that you won’t even exist.

In case you somehow aren’t successful at adopting microwave spectra stealth technology, @me_mumstheword suggests, “Look like you need something and no one will see you.” To facilitate this, I have made you a line of office stealth t-shirts.

This last one didn't work for some reason.

While it may not be possible to travel through the office entirely unobserved, protective materials and behaviors can be implemented to prevent enemy approach and ensure your safe return to the cubicle. @daralynnieloo suggests that you “wander around with a stack of papers that you are pretending to make sense of. Constantly flip thru and mumble.” For increased effectiveness, @fearthecute has a list of specific muttering words you may find helpful. They include ‘deadlines’, ‘client’, ‘report’, and ‘presentation’.

Cubicle Invasion: AKA the peer-and-glare

The peer-and-glare is a classic form of cubicle invasion and requires more aggressive measures, including, but not limited to cats.

When @sepilipa told us all that she “got the peer-over and glare from the girl in the cube next to mine.” @SparkerPants quickly came to the rescue with a very practical suggestion. “Bring a cat to the office, hold it over the cube divide. No one does the peer-and-glare like a cat.”

@sepilipa's cat demonstrating the dreaded cubicle peer-and-glare: an expert for sure.

To get this plan to work, you will need to consider how you will transport the cat.  You will most likely need to sneak the cat into the office since cats are notoriously uncooperative and will never go for the business casual dress code. Dogs on the other hand, would put on a pair of khaki pants without complaint, but they aren’t as good at glaring. So, don’t bring a dog. 

You can probably sneak the cat into your office in a briefcase. Everything looks professional in a briefcase. For tips on getting the cat into the briefcase, please see Wikipedia.

Purchasing the Proper Equipment: Everything important in life is free, except for the really cool stuff.

A lot of people say that throwing money at a problem is not the solution. I would like to ask these people if they have ever TRIED throwing money at the problem. And also, are they throwing enough money at it? Throwing enough money at a problem with solve EVERYTHING. Look at Donald Trump and the hair.

Unless you have decided to pay @fearthecute for some extra muttering words, or @heinakroon for his secret stealth technology, all the suggestions so far have been free. Now I will present some options for those of you who are better funded. Money wins wars, you see. Or starts them. Or perhaps has nothing to do with them, I am really just making this up as I go. Sorry.

@me_mumstheword says that “keeping a bloody hatchet on your desk is a deterrent to unnecessary chatter.” She insists that her hatchet is primarily a ruse, but does admit, “I’d not be afraid to use it. Head-off any pestering, so to speak.”

The hatchet below is actually listed as a “bloody axe” but I like that it already comes with a kill count already carved into the side. People will be less likely to mess with you if they know you have taken someone out in cold blood before lunchtime.

@daralynnieloo keeps “rubber bands and marshmallows” handy to prevent the “peer-and-glare. “Nosy neighbor pulls a Kilroy, bean her between the eyes.” While @daralynneiloo means well with the rubber bands, I urge you to forgo mere rubber bands in favor of this baby from

As an added bonus, it is camouflaged. No one will see you until they are unwittingly pegged with marshmallows. Buy one even if you don’t have an office job. It will facilitate the interview process in case you decide to get one.

Well, I gotta go for now. I have a spreadsheet to stare at and I am pretty sure I just saw @heinakroon duck around the corner under the cover of infrared microwaves.  It was the cat he was carrying that gave him away.


  1. Brilliant post! Although I can neither deny nor confirm my possession of office stealth technology, I can recommend the use of headphones: even if you can sometimes still hear your co-workers, you can pretend not to, and might well be left alone. The downside is that you could be perceived as rude and antisocial, but that is but a small price to pay for not having to engage in smalltalk.

    Plus: having your own personal soundtrack will make any day go by a little faster..

  2. Ooh good call on the marshmallow gun! Much much more stealthy and inconspicuous than a tiny rubber band! The rubber band isn't even camouflaged!

  3. One way to avoid office chit-chat is be seen talking to the boss every once in awhile. Those paranoid coworkers will label you a spy and they will avoid you like the plague. So make a note to say "Hey, nice tie" to your boss as you casually point toward one of your coworkers, drawing your bosses eyes toward every time!

  4. First I was going to say I need the My Kid is Selling Popcorn t-shirt; but considering he's headed off for college soon I don't think anyone would buy that....but then I saw the hatchet! Yes, I definitely need one of those. That would work perfectly.

  5. Hahahahahahahha!! I SO need the marshmallow gun!!!!!!!!!

  6. Why would you need to leave your cubicle for snacks? I keep a large supply in my desk. That way, I never really HAVE to go downstairs to the break room - that's the floor where we keep the bosses, and I usually only venture down there to sign in and out for the day. Avoiding small talk is my specialty!

  7. Marshmallow gun is on the shopping list. I hope they sell it at Target because I only have time for one stop between work and daycare.

  8. I'm pretty sure that is why Target sells weapons, so people can pick them up between work and daycare.

  9. I have a tactic I tend to use when trying to put off unwanted admirers on trains. This is the "fly by your ear and voice in your brain" technique. If you are on your own and spot a guy that appears to be making their way over to you, simply swat at the empty space next to your ear, look around nervously and the point at the air muttering "I told you I don't want to talk to you right now, you're being unreasonable." it is a gem for unwanted admirers but I'm pretty sure it would work in the work place as well... As long as you're sneaky about it. Otherwise you may be forced to leave work on "stress leave."

  10. My kid's selling ridiculously expensive wrapping paper would work, too. Especially since I rather like popcorn. I'd talk to you in that shirt.

    ("I may be contagious." might work. Unless people wanted a few days off. Then maybe not.)

    It's too bad you're so young. Otherwise you could say things like "Would you like to see my gallbladder?"