Six Office Break Room Rules to Live by

There is a special balance of common sense and politics going on in office break rooms across the country. Most of us naturally abide by these unspoken rules and for good reason. The workday goes a lot smoother when everyone is playing nice. But at every worksite, there are those few inconsiderate souls who are clueless on the do’s and don’t of the company break room. They lurk near the coffee maker waiting to offend and hinder your other wise enjoyable lunch break. You just want to shake them and yell, “What the hell”! But that would be a no-no and such language is not appropriate for the office. Worse of all, the offending co-worker seems to be aloof of the seriousness of his or her trespasses.

Unfortunately, most companies neglect to send an official interoffice memo on proper break room behavior. Many feel it’s not necessary; after all, the vast majority of us acclimates quite well and picks up on the unspoken and obvious without the meddling of the higher ups in the corporate ladder. Besides, the upper management is way too busy thinking up new witty acronyms for the monthly staff meetings to worry about Victor’s smelly bowl of left over fish mash surprise. So, the outcasts of social grace and consideration are left hanging in office purgatory. They wander around the break room alone after everyone flees to get away from them. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the unofficial rules of nearly every office break room in America. Victor, here’s your guide.

Rule One

Do not bring your left over fish mash surprise for lunch. You may not realize it, but the rest of the office does not want to smell your creation. Once you zap it in the microwave oven, the odor permeates the break room and any offices near by. Frankly, it smells like cat pee. Keep the Sea food at home.

Rule Two

Clean up after yourself. Nothing is more aggravating than having to clean the microwave before you can use it; having to clean the mess on the table that someone else left before sitting down; or hearing another co-worker whine about the slob that left the mess. News Flash: You’re Momma does not work here! Most break rooms are self cleaning. Leaving a mess in the break room for someone else to clean is a major offense.

Rule Three

Don’t talk about your diarrhea; show off your surgery scars, or dig for gold in your nose while people are trying to eat. Even if you do those things at home, it’s still not acceptable at the office. It is hard to enjoy lunch hearing about the two bottles of pepto you drank before coming to work while trying to shield a plate of food from any stray boogers that may make a mad dash toward freedom.

Rule Four

Do not pester fellow co-workers about work during break. Lunch time is personal time. Do you really think they brought that report to lunch with them? Do you expect that they are going to jump up, clock back in and pull a power point presentation out of their butt because you at that moment would like them to? Unless you’re the president of the corporation, the odds are slim. Send an e-mail that can be dealt with once they are back on the clock.

Rule Five

There is gossip at every work place. But the break room is not the place to talk about the new girl in accounting and the out of office romp she had with the hot guy in purchasing that could do so much better then her. The risk is too high that one of them will walk in or someone will over hear. Worse of all, when you get caught in the act, the rest of the people on break are a captive audience for the messy fall out. Keep it on the phone; keep it out of the office and keep it on your own time.

Rule Six

Go outside if you need to have a deeply personal cell phone conversation. The pedestrian check up call on the kids is fine for the break room, but no one really needs to overhear a steamy conversation with your newest sexual conquest. You’d be surprise how quickly the rest of the office will lose respect for you after witnessing a loud cell phone break up.

Weary break room dwellers everywhere heave a sigh of relief. You’re not alone in your daily struggle to enjoy your lunch. Of course, we can’t expect all the Victors’ in this world to abandon their sea food; clean up after themselves; reframe from pestering and gossiping, or take their cell phone conversations outside for the welfare of everyone else using the break room. But with these simple rules, even the most befuddled co-worker can get on the path of break room righteousness. And if you are one of the break room offenders, tomorrow is a new day and an opportunity to impress and wow your fellow co-workers with your new break room etiquette.

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