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How to Survive the Warzone That is Your Office

Illustration for article titled How to Survive the Warzone That is Your Office

Unlike the characters in Hulu's new series, The Wrong Mans, you’ve probably never found yourself mistakenly wrapped up in a criminal conspiracy. You're using a computer and most likely have access to potable water — in global terms, fortune has smiled so broadly upon you that it’s practically eating you alive. But you probably have at least one thing in common with the average joes in The Wrong Mans: having to deal with your fair share of workplace debacles. So for the moment, let’s define disaster as the relatively benign, annoying affronts one must grin and bear in the typical office: conference calls going sideways, aggressive refrigerator land grabs, and social politics that are tricky at best (ask Human Resources to show you the video, it's hilarious).

These issues may seem mundane in comparison to the danger faced by Sam and Phil in The Wrong Mans, but office predicaments require carefully crafted solutions. I'm here to help you navigate the cast of characters you're likely to encounter in the professional world. Also, I haven't had a steady job since 2004.

Someone keeps taking your labelled yogurt from the office refrigerator.

Make some romantic advances toward the thief (in a non-harassing way, of course!), go on a few dates, then begin a committed relationship with them that requires sharing groceries at home and in the office. If the person turns out to be a an actual felon (cars, money, stereos, etc.), end the relationship and contact the authorities. There will be one less criminal walking around the office, and you’ll be a hero.


Keith, the chatty guy from Sales, won’t stop casually mentioning that he’s taking Salsa lessons with his wife.

According to a brilliant philosopher I once read (or was it some random dude giving a TED talk I watched online?), we are insignificant specks who can hope to achieve nothing more than a small amount of personal grace as we march through our brief existence. So, Keith is taking salsa lessons with his wife? Fair enough. Give the man some respect — he knows how to dance, and you probably don’t. Let's try to respect the dance even if we can't respect Keith.

The person at the desk next to yours is apparently allergic to food that doesn’t smell like death.

It’s disgusting, right? How long would one have to live in a dark trench full of bugs for that smell to be appetizing? But don’t worry: that smell is saving you. It’s forcing you to leave your desk, move your legs, and go out for lunch. That means at least an hour of fresh air and some perspective, so in a weird way the warm stench of rot gives you an opportunity to treat yourself. Note: Don't attempt to mask the odor with air freshener. “Evergreen Spruce” plus warm fish paints a portrait of life and death in the woods that is entirely too real.


Your co-worker keeps sending animated e-vites inviting you to every single social event he/she plans, expecting you to attend.

Just go to something. God. You act like you’ve never put on a tuxedo and sat alone in your living room waiting for someone special to show up because I'm a fool who believes good things can still happen. Admit it — it’s flattering to be invited to a gathering by someone other than a family member. Drink alcohol if that's what it takes for you to have a human heart, but just say yes for once.


Now, go forth into the world of communal refrigerators, cubicles, and water coolers knowing that I'm here for you if you need more advice. If you need additional help maintaining your composure in the workplace, check out Hulu's The Wrong Mans trailer below. Head here to learn more about the series, which premieres on November 11. You'll be glad that those mildly troublesome coworkers are your biggest problems today.

DAN KENNEDY is a writer living in New York. He is author of the new novel “American Spirit”, the memoirs “Loser Goes First” and “Rock On” (A Times of London Book of The Year).

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