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The Journal of Literary Satire | Hastily Written & Slopilly Edited
Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Ten Things You Used to Be Able to Get Away With in Grade School but You Probably Can’t Get Away With at Work

by Kevin Kinsella

  1. Your boss is really chewing out Jonesy, a colleague and after-work drinking partner, in a manner that you feel is quite inappropriate for the alleged transgression: falling asleep at his desk. So you creep up behind him and quietly get down on all fours, giving your buddy a delicious opportunity to push your unsuspecting supervisor over with very little effort. Laying on his own back on the floor, he can’t help but laugh alongside the two of you at the silliness of his situation. Tension is relieved and everyone returns to his cubicle and you and Jonesy have something to laugh about at the bar tonight.

  2. You’ve been cornered outside the restroom by Bev from marketing, and she’s going on about some incredibly tedious work-related minutia. You really have to go to the bathroom but she doesn’t seem to recognize your dilemma. Simply point your finger toward the space between the top of her chest and the base of her neck. When she looks down to see what you could possibly be pointing at, deftly flip your finger up and swat her against the nose. The confusion and relatively light embarrassment of falling for this time-worn prank will give you an ideal opportunity to slip quickly into the bathroom.

  3. Johnson has done it again! He stole your idea and presented it at the meeting before you could get a word in edgewise. Even while he’s reaping the praise of your supervisors, he’s staring at you with a shit-eating and “What are you going to do about it, sucker?” grin on his face. So after the meeting, you and José from IT confront him in the men’s room. While José pins him to the floor, you lift his shirt and begin quickly slapping his bare stomach as hard as you can with the palm of your hand until it’s good and pink and he’s calling “uncle.” Note: Don’t let the headiness derived from Johnson’s humiliating pink belly fool you into believing that José wouldn’t hold you down while Johnson gets his own licks in on you. It is important to note that workplace allegiances are transitory.

  4. Sometimes all it takes is a well-timed noogie to get out of a potentially sticky workplace situation. For instance, Wanda from accounting has confronted you at your cubicle on some highly questionable items included on your expense report. She’s absolutely right to question them, after all, you know full well that you shouldn’t be charging spa and clothing purchases to the company while away on business. So what can you do to avoid having to pay for them yourself? Ask Wanda to identify the disputed items. When she leans over to point them out to you, quickly wrap one arm around her shoulders to immobilize her, bring your free hand up to her head, and drag the knuckle of your middle finger back and forth as fast as possible through her hair and against her skull. After about fifteen seconds of this, she’s going to cry, “All right, all right already…,” and hightail it back to her own cubicle. Chances are that she’ll never raise the issue again, or at least not for the rest of the day.

  5. Often, workplace rivalries arise out of nowhere. For some reason, things just aren’t clicking between you and Anderson. The resulting tension needs to be released occasionally or else a full-fledged intra-office war might break out. So next time you find yourself waiting with Anderson for the coffeemaker to finish brewing a fresh pot try this: Wait until the moment when the coffee is just about finished, and as he reaches for the pot handle, slap him lightly in the chest and bark “OPEN CHEST!” Then, before he has a chance to recover, quickly follow through with another light slap on his forehead, complimenting it with a shrill “FOREHEAD!” In the ensuing confusion, top off your coffee and go back to your cubicle, basking in the pleasure of having won this battle, if not the war. Watch your back!

  6. Tensions are running high as everyone struggles with some serious number-crunching as they prepare for the quarterly board meeting. Your boss has just received a royal browbeating from the C.F.O. over some outstanding purchase orders. He decides to take his frustrations out on you. While he’s going on about how useless you are to the firm and how he could find any kid just out of college to replace your lazy ass, try reaching out and giving his nipple a good hard twist. The move will be so unexpected, not to mention painful, that you should have no problem making a break for it. It is not recommended that you apply this move (alternately known as the “titty twisty” or “purple nurple”) against a female coworker, unless you have breasts of your own, man-boobs notwithstanding.

  7. If you aren’t comfortable with applying any of these more physical strategies to resolve issues in your workplace, how about trying something a bit more psychological? For example: Carly, V.P. of East Coast Sales, has been rambling incessantly about the need for you and your fellow regional sales associates to get out there and “hustle” more. She’s already made this obvious point at least a dozen times and the meeting has long since run over into your lunch break. Interrupt her occasionally with a well-timed nonsense word or sound like “zup!” “pffft!,” or “shoop!” Alternately, you can try repeating everything she says, but in a higher-pitched, or even cartoonish voice. Carly will soon get the drift and the meeting should wrap up nicely.

  8. You’re sure Lekesha from payroll has been helping herself to items you’ve packed for your lunch. Everyday you find something new missing from the refrigerator, like an apple or a Snickers bar you were saving for a late afternoon pick-me-up. She should know better, after all, she packs her own considerable lunch each day. Teach her a lesson by replacing items in her lunch sack with common desktop accessories, like a stapler or tape dispenser. She’ll have no idea what hit her, but she should learn her lesson. If not, begin squishing up her sandwiches and bruising any fruit she brings in.

  9. So Johnson hasn’t learned his lesson. Despite the pink belly he’s received after stealing your ideas, he’s been going behind your back and telling your boss that you’ve been printing job descriptions from the Internet on the department printer. As a result, you get a serious dressing down in front of your colleagues. Next time you see him bending down over the water bubbler or perhaps trying to remove a jam from the same printer, run toward him at a fairly moderate speed. When you’re about six to eight feet away, leap into the air, twisting your body so that your rear end is hurtling toward his exposed flank. There is nothing like a well-executed butt check to put someone on notice.

  10. Finally, you’ve had it up to here with Anderson. He really hasn’t done anything particularly wrong lately but the tension between the two of you has been mounting ever since he’s been back from vacation. You find him in the break room, flirting with the girls from marketing, regaling them with stories from his recent trip to the Bahamas. He’s tan and relaxed, his teeth are blinding white in contrast to his darkened skin, and the girls seem obviously impressed with how exposure to the Caribbean sun has accentuated his hair’s natural highlights. It’s time you bring him down a peg. As you pass by the group, swiftly grab hold of his double-pleated trousers and give them a quick tug downward. Once passed his skinny hips, the pants should fall easily below his knees, revealing a pair of novelty boxer shorts that he could only have received as a gift from a girlfriend or wife. The spell broken, the girls from marketing will suck their teeth and return to their cubicles, leaving Anderson red-faced and scrambling to pull his pants back up.

Kevin Kinsella is a writer and translator living in New York City. His writing has appeared in or on Archipelago, The Drunken Boat, 3rd Bed, Mr. Beller's Neighborhood, and Über. His translation of Osip Mandelshtam's Tristia is forthcoming from Green Integer Books.