Friday, October 10, 2008

smile and say hi

There's a certain code of etiquette that we use to move about in the maze and hallways of the cube farm.

First, before you leave the cube and attempt to enter the hall, you must look quickly right and left, much like you would if you were driving before turning onto a road. Because there are actually quite a few people who are shorter than the cube walls who you can't see if you just go barreling out into the hall. And then you'll mow them down when they've just returned from the coffee room with a cup of hot coffee.

I am not one of these shorter folks, rather unfortunately; you can always tell where I am in the maze because my blond heads bobs and weaves and sticks up over the walls. There's really nowhere for me to hide. Unless I slump down, which I sometimes do so I won't be seen coming in from lunch 2 hours late.

Then there's hallway etiquette. You have to decide: Will you say hi to people you pass in the hallway or not? Here's a test:

Ok, here's Joe walking down the hall toward you. You like Joe, you're friends. Do you
a)say hi, chat, complain about the man, do the Wild and Crazy guy walk toward each other, high five, terrorist fist jab
b)ignore him

The correct answer is a.

Here's Linda walking down the hall toward you. You don't really work much with Linda; you kind of know who she is but have no personal connection with her. Do you
a)smile and say hi
b)ignore her and look far off into the distant horizon, pretending to be in so much of a hurry to get to your destination that you can't take the time to smile and say hi
c)pretend you're examining your nails or you're rustling papers about and couldn't look up in time, thus avoiding her gaze without the guilt that might have come from simply ignoring her. But if you feel guilty immediately after passing her, you make an insincere attempt, after you've walked past her, to acknowledge her presence by turning halfway around and lamely saying "oh, hey, Linda. Hey. Sorry, I didn't see you there."

The correct answer is a.

Here's someone who works in the same building somewhere; you have absolutely no idea who it is. Do you
a) smile and say hi
b) grimace and say hi
c) head nod with or without saying "hey" (this is mostly reserved for men)
d) see how long the hallway is and panic, thinking that there's still time enough to act like you've forgotten something and turn around and go back to your cube and then return to the hallway after the person has passed, thus avoiding that uncomfortable situation where neither of you knows each other and forces out an insincere smile and mumbles "hey."
e) completely and totally look directly past the person at a point far off on the horizon, thereby eliminating that person's presence within your personal space and thus diminshing their self-esteem by just enough for them to go home and return to work with a loaded rifle
f) stare them down as they walk down the hall, forcing them to acknowledge you with an insincere smile and a mumbling "hey."
g) stare them down as they walk down the hall, and then, as they pass, realize that they are NOT meeting your stare and are ignoring your presence within their personal space, and then get pissed off because they're so rude.

The correct answer: all of the above.

It gets complicated, making this quick thinking-on-your-feet type of decision who to say hi to and who not. You don't want people to think you're some kind of friendly, perky freak who may actually be trying to create a positive presence in the workplace.