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Work Retire Mailbag Vol. 4: Ending Calls, Squeaky Office Chairs and Work Life Balance

Every month or so, we’ll be answering your questions about work, life and balance. Thank you to all who submitted questions, and for everyone else, be sure to email to have yours answered in the next version.  And don’t forget to subscribe to the weekly newsletter, where answers will be posted first. Check out last month’s mailbag here.

Question: How do you tell a coworker to stop talking so much on a call when you just want it to end? 

People really do loooove the sound of their own voice and using every minute of a call for absolutely no reason. Here’s how you get your coworkers who take 5 minutes to say something that could be said in 5 seconds, to just shut up and give us all some time back in our day. 

  • Tell them you have a ‘hard stop’ and simply cannot stay on much longer. Book off some fake time so it looks believable if they have the audacity to check. 
  • Irish exist. Just bounce. If they ask you what’s wrong, just say your Internet connection dropped. Easy. 
  • ‘Follow up offline’ or ‘Circle Back’ is your new best friend. The second they start getting into details, just tell them it’s not a conversation for the broader group, but you’re happy to follow up offline. You won’t, but that’s fine. You did your part.
  • Unmute yourself and mutter loudly – ‘this guy won’t shut the fuck up will he?’ Pretend you had no idea you were on mute but hopefully they’ll get the message. 
When Mark won’t shut the fuuuuck up on the team status call

Separate but related note – the worst thing in the world is when you’re in a video meeting with someone important (ie CEO, VP, etc.) and you ask a question to seem smart and they launch into a 5-10 minute answer. You have to nod and go ‘mhmmm’ for that entire time period and worst of all, you can’t check out mentally and update your fantasy football lineup. That’s why you NEVER ASK A QUESTION IN A COMPANY WIDE MEETING.

Question: Thoughts on squeaky office chairs?

These are a huge asset. Honestly, there is no greater feeling to me than pissing off everyone within a 10 foot radius of me. That might be a personal issue but a squeaky office chair is a perfect way to drive your coworkers absolutely crazy with very minimal effort. 

Question: What Looney Tunes pairing would make the best presidential running mate?

Bugs Bunny (President) and Yosemite Sam (VP.) That’s right, two fierce rivals would come together to unite this divided nation. Let’s break it down real quick.

I’d read this

Bugs Bunny – Mr. Bunny is America’s sweetheart. He’s confident, charismatic, and just the right amount of devious that you know he can get shit done in office. He’s paired with Lola Bunny, who instantly becomes the hottest First Lady in American history and can point to her time in Space Jam as legitimate, foreign policy experience. Most importantly, he secures the carrot farmer vote in several swing states.

Yosemite Sam – Bug’s former adversary and now serves as the ‘bad cop’ when it comes to political infighting and more radical policies Mr. Bunny can’t publicly endorse. He’s a win with the gun rights activists and the key Southern territories. He also has a great hat, which cannot be discounted.

Worst Pairing:

Pepe LePew and Tazmanian Devil.

This is an absolute PR nightmare. Pepe has been Me-too’d at least a dozen times and I shudder to think of the skeletons in Taz’s closet. That man has killed before and there is no doubt he’ll kill again. Also, I’m pretty sure neither of these guys were born in the US or have citizenship, so this would be just sort of illegal all around.

Pepe’s campaign manager after yet another skunk comes forward with sexual harassment allegations.

Question: How do you achieve work life balance? 

Of all my talents in the office (believably faking sick, cool fonts in PowerPoints, being slightly taller than average, etc.) being disciplined about work life balance is top of the list. Some will call this ‘laziness’ or ‘avoiding work at all costs’ but I refer to it simply as ‘knowing my worth and how pointless this entire existence is.’

I don’t think it’s a secret that more than 50% of ‘work’ in the office is just kinda bullshit. Unending emails, 60 slide PowerPoints to impress a VP who is only half pay attention during the presentation, HR trainings – the list goes on and on. It can be easy to get caught up in it because people inherently want to do well, make some money, and not get yelled at. But it’s important to always remember that your company will lay you off without a second thought if they think they’ll save a few bucks. It doesn’t matter how long you’ve worked there, that everyone likes you or that you did everything right. Do you really want to care this much about something that doesn’t care about you? 

I’m not saying be an asshole and just stop working. You don’t want to screw over your coworkers or your boss, who are likely nice, good people doing their best. And obviously, you want to do well and make money – we all gotta eat. I’m just saying that emotionally detaching from your job is healthy, and actually kind of a good strategy for succeeding. 

A weird thing happens when you stop caring so much about things that don’t matter. You’re looser and more confident. You can push back on unreasonable deadlines or work that isn’t really impactful. You can close your laptop at 5:30 and go actually enjoy life. You honestly might get promoted. 

Or you might fired. But you were going to get fired eventually anyways, so don’t worry about it. Actually we’re in a national pandemic and unemployment crisis so maybe worry about it a little bit. But not too much. Was that helpful?

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