Tuesday, April 24, 2007

The Office Pig Pen

I covered several workplace pesonalities in an earlier post titled Turtling Through Workplace Personalities. In that post I thought I had pretty much covered all of the different kinds of personalities I've worked with in my career. However, recently I came across a workplace personality that I forgot to add to that post. This one is classic and I now present to you....The Office Pig Pen.

You may remember the classic Charlie Brown character named Pig Pen. In the cartoon, Pig Pen is depicted as the dirty kid, complete with stained face and clothes with an accompanying cloud of dirt that follows him as he walks. I believe the character of Pig Pen was meant as a way to show kids how not to act. The concept of washing your hands, bathing daily, and maintaining a crisp personal appearance were all lessons to be learned from Pig Pen. Unfortunately though, some people missed the Charlie Brown cartoons and the lessons learned from Pig Pen. As a result there are many office versions of the Pig Pen character. I happen to work with a few Office Pig Pens at my current company. Below are a few signs that you have an Office Pig Pen working in your company:

Poor bathroom etiquette is one behavior of the Office Pig Pen. A manager I work with is a prime example. On the occasion that we will cross paths in the men’s room I notice that he does the quick hand wash without soap. Even after dropping a number 2, he’ll come out of the stall, turn the faucet on for 2 seconds, run his hands under it and then go for the paper towel. No soap, no scrubbing, just water!

Uncleanly office equipment or work area is another sure sign of the Office Pig Pen. We’ve all seen the nasty keyboard, complete with stained keys and crumbs in between the keys. You may also see finger print smudges on the computer screen from the Office Pig Pen using their dirty, greasy fingers to point out something on the PC. Food debris on the floor or desk marks yet another sign of the Office Pig Pen.

Poor personal appearance easily identifies the Office Pig Pen. The Office Pig Pen may have old or worn clothing or maybe new clothing that hasn’t been ironed or washed lately. If you have a male Office Pig Pen, shaving facial hair or getting hair cuts may be low on the priority list. In severe cases, there may be a BO situation in which the Office Pig Pen emits an aroma after not bathing for a few days.

The Office Pig Pen may also lack control over certain body functions. I managed an Office Pig Pen that had trouble with breaking wind. My team of 12 sat in a row and he was in the middle. Throughout the day he would just let loose, stinking up the entire aisle. Imagine having a conversation with an employee to discuss their problem with farting. I had to have that discussion with our Office Pig Pen. Fun, fun fun!

If you have an Office Pig Pen working at your company, avoid them at all costs. If they touch something of yours, burn it immediately. Also, avoid any skin to skin contact (remember the bathroom etiquette note), as you don’t want to touch the skin of a non hand washer. If you find there are several Office Pig Pen’s make a list and share that list with friends. If your friends don’t know, they may inadvertently come in contact with an Office Pig Pen (handshake or using a stapler) and cause an outbreak, spreading germs from the Office Pig Pen to you. Knowledge and awareness of the Office Pig Pen is critical. Watch for the signs, share with others, and be safe out there!


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