The office nemeses

Every temp has a tale to tell. Admittedly, they’re usually quite dull tales, mainly centring around filing, making tea for 300 ungrateful executives, and accidentally stapling their fingers. Actually, temps should probably just shut up and keep their boring stories to themselves.

But while the work is NEVER interesting, temporary jobs do give you, as the outsider, an unparalleled glimpse into the office dynamic, and the intricacies of human nature. The downside is that, sadly, you grow to hate people. All people. After three years of on-off temp work I am a fully paid-up misanthrope. But hey! The upside is that I know my enemies. Within hours of starting a new ‘assignment'(oh, sure, it sounds exciting…) I can identify my potential nemeses in the office. And then I put them into their categories…

1) The Office Bore

The Office Bore probably thinks of himself as the Office Joker, or perhaps even ‘Japester’. He prides himself on his wacky, push-the-boundaries sense of humour, and still thinks it is au courant to make jokes about PC-language. For instance, the Office Bore is usually quite fat, and so will describe himself as ‘waistbandly-challenged’ or something. He will then stare you down until you are forced to laugh nervously.

The Office Bore probably doesn’t smoke, but can always be found hanging around on smoke breaks, forcing weary colleagues to listen to his Liam Gallagher impression and firing off a barrage of clearly made-up anecdotes. He affects the air of a world-weary cynic laughing at this crazy world. In fact he is a deeply insecure fool who hopes that, by using self-deprecating humour as a defence, he will pre-empt the cruel taunts that haunted his schooldays. He can also be identified by the ‘80s leather jacket (with batwing sleeves), which he wears to work over his suit. This is partly because he fancies himself as a bit of a system-bucking non-conformist. But it is mainly because 15 years ago he fancied himself as a bit of a rocker. He may well try and engage you in a conversation about The Alarm, or The Sisters of Mercy.

2) The Office Lech

A close relation of the Office Bore in that they have both gone months without a shag. But the Lech believes he could be lucky with the ladies if they just took the time ‘to really get to know him’. The Office Lech will appear at your desk within minutes of your arrival, ostensibly to ask if you’ve found the coffee machine yet. An alert temp will notice the ill-concealed sniggers of people working around her – they have seen the Lech’s moves before.

By midday the Lech will re-appear, asking if you’d like to go to the pub after work. Do I even need to say ‘don’t go’? If you are a trusting person (i.e. virgin temp) you still may not recognise the Office Lech for what he is. But you will when he repeatedly, and unnecessarily brushes past you in the corridors. The man is desperate for even a graze of tit, and he does not care how he gets it. Further confirmation will come when he starts dropping his ex-girlfriend, and how he’s still getting over the break-up, into the conversation. This is a double-pronged attack to make you both pity him (note to men: pity is not a sexy emotion), and see him as a sexual being.

You will later find out that he actually broke up with his girlfriend 18 months ago, and has since tried it on with everyone from the MD to the cleaning lady. One particularly persistent and pathetic Office Lech actually ‘stole’ my home phone number when he overheard me giving it to another colleague. The Lech has no subtlety and a hide of fibreglass – your only hope is to limit your conversation to monosyllabic grunts. Of course, he will still believe you want him.

3 The Pikey Slag

Despite the name, the Pikey Slag is not the Office Bike. In fact, she will probably be in her 40s (with grandchildren), smartly dressed (a lot of gold jewellery, particularly rings) and fairly efficient. You may notice her sharp tongue, awesome cigarette consumption, and regular use of expletives. But you’ll probably initially see her as an earthy, yet quite maternal type, always ready with a bawdy quip, and a lewd cackle.

You’ll even accept her blunt comments (‘Those shoes are a bit silly, ain’t they?’; ‘Did you pay for that haircut?’) as salt-of–the-earth humour. But listen closer to the tales she tells to her attendant bunch of Pikey Slags in training. A lot of her conversations will end with the give-away line: ‘So I turned round and thumped her one, didn’t I?’. By these words shall you know the Pikey Slag. Racist terms of a rare variety and volume will also pepper her hilarious stories of arguing with the neighbours (a classic pikey hallmark), accusing people of rear-ending her car and fighting over the last set of Pokemon cards for her grandson. Never attempt to call the Pikey Slag on any of her attitudes. She will get you in the car park, and as I said, the woman owns a lot of rings.

4 The Office Totty

Nothing makes the work-day pass faster than lusting after the Office Totty. Flirty emails and a bit of desk-side banter will certainly relieve the tedium of franking the latest company mail-shot. Distributing the mail is a lot more fun when there’s one recipient you’d love to play Postman’s Knock with… oh, who am I kidding? All your colleagues will be mingers. You’ll elevate one to the status of Mr Fit on the grounds that he sweats less profusely than the rest of them and doesn’t wear white socks.

Maybe he’ll have even made a couple of funny comments. Swoon! Yes, your standards will drop. No, you would never want any of your friends to meet him. But being cooped up with a bunch of strangers eight hours a day necessitates that you fancy one of them. Despite Office Totty’s distinct averageness, you will probably get a bit flustered around him, drink too much if you go to the pub together, and generally act like a less witty, even more desperate Miss Moneypenny. Bear in mind that Office Totty’s privileged position means he is something of an arrogant and fickle beast. It is ill-advised to snog him, even if in the real world you would have the upper hand due to your superior attractiveness. This is not the real world, it is the office and he holds your status and ego in the palm of his hand. Basically, he’s probably a one snog/shag guy. This is really a good thing, because if you started going out you’d have to introduce him to your friends. In the real world. Note: the female Office Totty is a highly irritating creature, who should just piss off back to wherever she came from, taking her long, blonde (dyed! Haha!) hair and make-up that somehow lasts all day with her.

I haven’t even mentioned the huge supporting cast of weather-obsessed women (who, at 4.30pm each day will settle down with a nice cup of tea and a chocolate biscuit if they’re being naughty) and balding middle-managers who will never learn your name, but will never fail to stare at your tits.

Well, OK, I have now. I hope neophyte temps might read this and be more alert to the pain they are expected to go through for £7.00 an hour. Be on your guard! But, though the dullards, pervs and knobheads who make up your average office will not add much joy to your life, they will at least provide you with rich comic material for your planned Bridget Jones rip-off novel. And if you should crack under the strain and beat your co-workers to death with their ‘special’ coffee mugs, remember: you are already at the bottom of the employment ladder. You can’t fall any further!!