Gravel Gertie discusses office decorum!

Lots of y'all spend most of the day cooped up in the office where you run into all sorts of problems from angry bosses to zealous secretaries. Here's what you asked ...

Dear Gertie,

I work in the Social Security office and there are always interesting situations that we find ourselves in. Once, a guy walked in and said to the receptionist, "I have the urge to kill somebody." I overheard and went to get our Office Manager, Lanny, (who is a jerk), and told him that someone wanted to see him in the reception area. When Lanny arrived, this guy's homicidal rage unfortunately went away. Do you have any other suggestions on how to get rid of Lanny?

Sheryl from Chattanooga

Dear Sheryl, maybe all Lanny needs is a little attention. On the days that his girlfriend comes to take him to lunch, anonymously send him heart-shaped balloons inscribed with "Studly" and "Love you, baby", or leave a heart-shaped locket wrapped in a gift box on his desk. Also, write "prosperous, pretty, and passionate" on Lanny's business cards and leave them at the local clubs (the Cheetah 3 and the Booby Trap are nice enough). If all else fails, you can make him some special brownies using chocolate-flavored laxatives for a nice snack before his important meeting with the boss.

Dear Gravel Gertie,

There are two ladies in my office that constantly bicker. Donna (the receptionist) is angry with Barbara (the claims rep), so she pulls the sheets off of Barbara's daily calendar, folds them up one at a time, and stuffs them in her purse. Barbara reprogrammed Donna's computer to sing the Hallelujah Chorus every morning at 10 o'clock. We can't figure out why these two argue all the time.

Dell in Rossville

Dear Dell, some folks have personality conflicts, while others just have no personality a'tall. The best everyone can do is to get the two to come to agreeable terms. If this can't be done, then I suggest they have a bowl-off at the bowling alley or arm wrestling. Winner takes all and both shut the heck up.

Dear Gertie,

I need some etiquette advice concerning phone headsets. When I approach people in the office that are wearing a headset and ask them a question, they wave me away and begin to speak to thin air, totally ignoring me standing in front of them. This is so annoying, what can I do?

Have a great one! Carol

Dear Carol, you know, I was thinking wearing a headphone would be a great way to avoid someone at the office that gets on your nerves. Of course, you're not that way, right? Ahem. Anyway, what I propose is for you to stand in front of the headset-wearing person and stare at them pitifully until they respond with a, "WHAT?!" Then you can ask them your question.

But, if they ignore you and keep talking to the air for an extended amount of time and you notice that the headset isn't plugged in, then I'd try using email to ask them a question (and possibly begin using a stronger mouthwash).

Hey Gertie,

My desk sits closer to our smoking lounge than the restroom. Since I have to breathe second-hand smoke all day, is it improper for me to go in there to fart?

Dave in Ohio

Dear Dave, as far as I can tell, there ain't no studies proving that flatulence is carcinogenic. You could walk into the smoking area and rip off a really good fart, and then shrug when the smokers look at you. Tell them, "Isn't it awful that you can't do something that you really enjoy just *anywhere*? Being forced into a small area is really barbaric, isn't it? Tsk."

Dear Gertie,

Two months ago, when I opened a file drawer in my cubicle, I discovered evidence of something living there. A small nest made from torn pieces of paper and rubber cement, small bits of something or other that may have been food at one time, and small television made of paper clips, staples, and an old eyeglass lens.

In time, the occupant of the drawer became bolder, peeking it head out occasionally. I tried to ignore it for fear of scaring it away. It appeared to be a small man, approximately twenty inches in height. The little man doesn't seem to talk, but judging from the sounds from the drawer, it's grown very fond of Judge Judy and The View.

Our company has just announced lay-offs and I'm worried about the fate of the little drawer guy. I can't take him home since my apartment doesn't allow pets. I can't take him with me to the new job since I haven't found anything yet. If he stays here, the new tenants may not treat him as kindly. What can I do, Gertie? What can I do?

Sincerely, Roy "Sully" Sullivan

Dear Sully, are you sure it's a little feller and not a mouse? If so, there are several different things you can do. First, you could leave the little dude to fend for himself; he sounds very inventive building his own home, television, and providing his own food.

Second, you could call The National Enquirer and ask them how much they'd give you on a scoop about a freaky small guy and you could earn enough money for him to upgrade his living arrangements and move from the drawer to perhaps a credenza in a small furnished apartment.

Last, bring him home with you. He doesn't get in the way and isn't very pet-like, so perhaps your landlord would allow him to stay. Maybe he could build himself a computer with Internet access and he could write an advice column based on the lessons he learned after watching Judge Judy and The View, and earn enough money for rent (or a pay-off to your landlord).

Dear Gertie,

My husband has a real dilemma at work. His supervisor is always coming into his cubicle under the guise of asking a question, only thing is, every time he comes into my husband's cubicle, he farts - bad, stinky farts. They aren't the noisy kind, but the SBD (silent but deadly) kind. My husband is really tired of this and I'm really tired of hearing him complain about it. How should he handle this situation? The man is his boss.

Mrs. Embarrassed in Norcross

Dear Mrs. E, your hubby is lucky that he is in a cubicle instead of a closed office!

There are three approaches he can take. First, he can fight fire with fire. Start off by teaching your husband the art of silently passing gas. (Not many men know this trick, you know.) Next, feed him lots of beans, cabbage, beer, and fried fish. When Da Boss comes in, your hubby can then produce his own SBD bombs. The smell of his gas should offset the smell of Da Boss' gas.

The second approach is for your hubby to ignore the odor by burning incense, spraying cinnamon spray, or subtly holding his nose by pretending to rub his face.

The last approach would be for your husband to loudly rate each flatulent episode on a scale from 1 to 10. When the SBD escapes, your dear one could exclaim, "Daggum Earl! That's a 10 if I ever did smell one! Wayda go! You da man!"

Dear Gravel Gertie,

On Fridays, we have casual day and we can wear jeans, sneakers, and shirts with collars. There is a coworker that hates the way I wear my tennis shoes. Other coworkers tell me how she goes on and on how I don't wear socks. What should I do?

Frantic and Footloose

Dear Frantic,

Wearing sneakers without socks makes your feet stink, so maybe she's offended by the smell of your feet. Or, maybe sneakers and bare feet terrorized her as a small child. You just never know. Show some compassion and wear socks - you don't want her to go off the deep end and suddenly freak out over boots or something.

Dear Gravel Gertie,

I work in an office where there is only another lady and myself. We are both appointment secretaries, and I have always believed that a person should give their all and do their best. This girl won't do her share of work. We have a quota to reach, and if we don't make it, then our boss would make us do even more work! I mostly do all the work and she gets credit for it!

Disgusted Secretary

Dear Disgusted, first off you need to talk to your boss. Explain to him that for his business to be successful, folks must pull their weight starting with him. Unhappy and over-worked personnel will not make quotas. Urge him to give your coworker a pep talk and to offer you lots of chocolate.

You could use the approach that Mrs. Embarrassed's husband's boss used. When your co-worker doesn't pull her weight, then SBD bomb her.

Dear Gravel Gertie,

I work in an office with my step dad. He finds that since we are related, it's OK to make rude noises. You know, the kind that can evacuate the room. What's worse is that he is always blaming it on me. It's especially embarrassing when the guys walk in and he's secretly pointing his finger at me and holding his nose. This deserves a raise. I demand it!


Dear Lori, what an interesting office you work in! My cousin Donny-Diddle was reading over my shoulder when I read your question and she said that you should get a dog so that your step dad would have someone/something to blame his fartin' on. I think this is a brilliant idea. The dog will gleefully accept the blame, thumping his tail each time you point at him as the one producing the smell. Other benefits of having a dog in the office include licking the stamps and envelopes, chasing off unwanted solicitors, and eating the crumbs off the floor.

Dear Gravel Gertie,

My cubicle is right next to the restroom. Since the walls are really thin, I can tell who washes after they go and who doesn't. Every day my boss goes into the restroom after lunch carrying a newspaper, spends a good ten to fifteen minutes in there, and doesn't wash his hands. Sometimes during the weekly staff meetings, he likes to shake hands with us. Ugh. I'm totally grossed out. How can I avoid shaking his hand without offending him?


Dear Kelly,

What a dilemma you have! I think most men don't wash after they take care of business. You could contact the Human Resources department to see if they can sponsor a cleanliness awareness seminar. In the meantime, you could start wearing cotton gloves to your weekly staff meetings, or you could keep some of those wonderful antibacterial wipes handy in your pocket for when he grabs your hand.


Copyright © 2016 Gertrude Butterbean (Angel Gillaspie)
Revised - 07/26/2016
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