Diet Coke demarkation.

When you share an office with 15 other people, weird shit is bound to pop up sooner or later. What kind of weird shit, you ask? You know — the kind that motivates you to diagram out your workspace (specifically, where you could crouch and hide should someone show up on Monday wearing Wonder Woman Underoos and an uzi).

Well, not even three months into my new gig, and I’ve already found myself reaching for the graph paper.

Let’s see, there’s the woman who performs this ritualistic series of sighing, sniffing and throat-clearing whenever she enters the bathroom. The cadence is so rhythmic, so measured, I fully expect to peer out of the stall cracks to see her performing a step show. Then there’s the HR person who thinks nothing of yelling over 10 cubicles to ask when, if ever, you plan on donating to United Way. And who could forget our crazy-ass admin. Her collection of dead plant stalks scattered all around the office in neglected pots has convinced me that she must be cultivating organic kindling for some sort of satanic pyre.

But by far, the most disturbing thing I’ve come across is the pop can scatterer. She leaves a trail of empty Diet Coke cans all over the office — and in the strangest places. I’ve seen them by the printer and on the department bookshelf. Before I knew what was up, I would collect the cans and put them in office recycling. Then one day, I found her tail up, digging to reclaim her kill and place them back in their respective spots. Turns out she likes to leave them in highly-visible places, so she won’t forget to take them home at night (and she does forget — like for weeks on end).

We’re all thinking it, so let’s just say it. All together now — WHAT THE FUCK??? Would it be possible for her to stack them on her OWN desk, or put them into a plastic bag or a drawer? Or, why doesn’t she just flatten the cans on her forehead and fling them across the office like monkey dung? No, that would be too logical. Methinks this is more about demarkation than her getting her nickel’s worth. So I say get it over with already — lift your leg and mark your territory like a woman. Or a feral cat. Whatever.

20 thoughts on “Diet Coke demarkation.”

  1. I have a graph map too and have used my hiding spots on more than one occassion. Although I will say that the Diet Coke woman takes the cake- what a bizarre ritual. Hmm….

  2. If you looked at your office from overhead and drew lines from each diet Coke can loacation I’ll bet it would form a penatagram. Maybe a Star of David…

  3. Reading this entry reminds me so much of working at my father’s office during the summers…you just gave me a post topic! slash I think you should adopt these habits whenever the ones who hold them are around. Just to see what happens. Or create your own habit. Like always bringing lunch from home into the break room, but leave it out. And make sure it has tuna, mayo, and feta cheese in it. Never clean up.

  4. Maybe she’s just OC? Or possibly just a slob who needs her comfort zone spread out all over kingdom come. That’s got to be annoying. I totally understand the “marking your territory” analogy.

  5. I think you should take the empty Diet Coke cans into the restroom, while sighing, sniffing AND clearing your throat. Quietly and meticulously pee in them. Wash your hands–maybe 10 times–and then carefully put the cans back–with a dead leaf or stalk in it.

    You need to show these people that you may be new but you are so friggin ON TO THEM.

  6. I had Diet Coke cans scattered in my dorm room in college, each with about a half-inch of flat soda in them, along with three inches of cigarette ashes. Gross, I know.

    But as an adult? In the workplace? That is really odd. And it doesn’t sound like your HR rep is worried about the cans, as long as the Diet Cokehead donates to the United Way.

  7. I had the same problem with a co-worker and her styrofoam cups with an inch of coffee left over. She would leave them all over the place, the cleaning lady was baffled and yup, everyone was WTF? Then in a matter of a few days, a styrofoam cup tipped over her keyboard and then another one spilled on her b/w laser printer. Ooops. The styrofoam cups are no more. I will reveal nuthin’.

  8. Just sneak ’em out at lunch and throw them away somewheres. Do it every day. It will make her nuts. Or bring more from home and stash them in her desk when she’s not looking. Put them behind the tires of her car. I worked with a woman who drove me crazy so I took a fresh, new condom, squirted some liquid soap on it. YOU KNOW WHAT THAT LOOKED LIKE. and put it dangling on her driver-side car door handle….then watched her from a window. It was SO worth it.

  9. to crush an aluminum can:

    1. empty can
    2. place can on floor
    3. stand on can on one foot (with careful balance)
    4. slowly, slowly, bend down and tap side of can

    can should crush into perfect aluminum disc.
    stander’s elevation will drop quickly as can collapses
    wear shoes when attempting this procedure
    be careful!

  10. OMG, I don’t believe someone else looks for hiding places and escape hatches. I know I can fit into my locker, and that by hiding under the desk and pulling the ever-present cardboard boxes around me I can disappear.

    I think your best defense is cultivating a weirdness all your own–start with laying a string on the floor across the entrance to your cube. Then get REALLY upset when someone steps on it.

  11. MamaPajama: I had a coworker once who actually did that. The “string” was a piece of bright orange masking tape. He’d ignore you until you crossed the tape, and then he’d freak out and start screaming at you. He lasted about three months before resigning due to “unlivable working conditions.”

    If I were you, though, untitledperson, I’d start replacing all the Diet Coke cans with cans of other beverages and check for a reaction. Start with Diet Coke with Lime or Diet Coke with Splenda to see if she notices. After a bit, randomly replace one of them with a Diet Pepsi can. Let this progress slowly until you’ve replaced the Diet Coke cans with empty containers of New Coke, Crystal Pepsi, Pepsi Blue, and Surge.

  12. My cubicle neighbor sings in a childish, high pitched voice. She will sing louder and louder, hoping for some comment. I sit in stoic silence until she finally says “Oh gosh. I didn’t realize I was singing. I hope I’m not bothering you.” And I say, ‘oh, I didn’t even notice.”

  13. Sue- Hahah! I do that with my cubemate except its when she talks. I’ll hear her, but say, “Oh, were you talking? To me? Huh. Sorry.” She get so mad & I crack the hell up

  14. The last corporate office I worked in had a very special person. Her ‘cubicle’ was moved into another room – away from everyone. This special person had such a ‘vibe’ coming off her – you could feel it. Way too much energy for normal folks to deal with. She worked happily in her own spot churning out payroll.

  15. untitledlife, maybe some Sunday night you and untitledhusband could go into your office and “decorate” — you lie on the floor in a “shot me down” position and have him do an outline of your body with masking tape, as if in a “crime scene” mode. Just leave it there indefinitely and never explain to anyone. If anyone asks, just reply, “Oh, that was the last asshole who asked me a stupid question” or whatever it was that the last asshole did that made you mad. Or obtain some “crime scene” tape and drape it across the threshold of your cubicle.

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