My current workplace is a rather big and sprawling cubicle farm – it actually spreads over several buildings. Most of it is fairly open which minimises the horrors of the cubicle farm life but by some quirk of construction, there is a blind corner right near the kitchenette. It’s solid walls so you can’t see who’s coming around the corner and it’s a busy thoroughfare so it’s quite likely someone is coming around the corner at any given time.
Making things worse is, because it’s near the kitchenette, people are often coming around the corner carrying hot drinks or food. There are about a dozen near misses a day and even though I’m not aware of any major mishaps it seems like it’s only a matter of time before someone has their eyeballs scalded out with boiling coffee. All sorts of strategies had been tried without much success. It started with basically saying to people “don’t be a fucking idiot when going around that corner.” In a perfect world, this would work but it doesn’t take into account how many people really are fucking idiots.
Then there were the attempts at signage. Various helpful signs like “keep left” and “warning: blind corner” had very little effect. Then we got serious and put a parabolic mirror on the ceiling which effectively let you see around the corner. This was less effective than you might think because surprisingly few people walk around looking at the ceiling. Then came the stroke of genius.
I wish I could say this was my idea (I was sorely tempted to do so – how the hell would you know it wasn’t?) One of the guys applied some lateral thinking and put a large pot plant right on the corner. You can see this from whatever direction you approach and it forces you to pay attention and walk AROUND the corner instead of simply cutting around quickly thus risking a collision. I was admiring his handiwork and made a comment like “this will work great because you can’t walk into a plant this big by accident.” To which the inevitable whiny cow-orker standing nearby said:
“I could walk into it, I think it’s dangerous.”
Now in retrospect, I shouldn’t have said “Then you’re too fucking stupid to live.” It’s obviously a true statement but I could’ve waited for them to forget to breathe and thus die quietly in their cubicle without me ever humiliating them by pointing out how fucking thick they are. They looked sad. Like I give a shit. Straight after this, I had a run-in with the second-stupidest person in the office.
We’ve all had those situations where you end up on a collision trajectory with someone walking towards you and you both correct at the same time then end up doing the back and forth dance for a while. Ha ha it’s very funny. I’ve developed a coping strategy for this that goes through several phases. First I slow down, then I pick a very definite direction and don’t waver so the other person knows my intention. If they are still going back and forth I’ll eventually stop completely and indicate that they should walk by.
This usually works but there are occasions, like this morning, when the other person is simply too stupid to cope with the situation. It was at “pot plant corner” which is now too small to go around without making some concession to oncoming traffic. I had stopped completely but this guy just couldn’t deal with it. He’s rocking back and forth like Bill Gates in the throes of an Asperger’s attack. And because he’s rocking from side to side I can’t get past. And he won’t get out of the way. So I did the only thing I could do.
I punched him in the face and stepped over his now-prone body. What can I say? I’m a solutions-oriented kind of bloke.