No Such Thing As A Free Lunch

, , , , | Working | October 22, 2017

(The office I work at is pretty laid back regarding things like lunch breaks, so I prefer to take my break later in the afternoon so that I am available to answer the telephones over the typical lunch hour. My desk is next to the department printer where a lot of protected information about clients is printed, whereas one of my coworker’s desk is a few cubicles down the hall. I am gathering up a stack of coworker’s printed material and decide to drop it off to her as it’s been sitting for a few hours. It is about 10:45 am, but she’s sitting at her desk eating lunch.)

Me: “Hi, [Coworker], just dropping off your printed forms; they’re in the protected folder in your in-tray if you’re looking for them.”

Coworker: “Oh, okay… um, listen; I normally take my lunch early because I get hungry earlier. I need you to make sure you don’t interrupt my lunch with work; I’ve earned my break and it shouldn’t be interrupted for anything other than an emergency, okay?”

Me: “Oh, I’m sorry. I didn’t realize you took an early lunch. Regardless, I was just dropping off the files you printed earlier; I don’t actually need anything from you at the moment. Enjoy your lunch!” *I head back to my desk but my coworker follows me*

Coworker: “I don’t think you understand; it’s very disruptive if you give me your work while I’m on lunch! I don’t get a proper break at all and it stresses me out!”

Me: “Yes, I understand that. I apologized because I didn’t know you started taking earlier lunches. I also wasn’t bringing you any work; you left some client files in the printer tray with sensitive information on them. People were sifting through the pile to get their own items. I was just dropping them off to clear the printer tray, not asking you to handle them right this moment. Next time I’ll make sure you’re not on break before I stop in.”

Coworker: “Good, because I’m not going to interrupt my lunch unless it’s an emergency!”

(A couple days later I am taking my lunch at my usual time, which I have done every day since I started in the department. Our other coworker is out at an appointment so it’s just the one coworker handling clients.)

Coworker: “[My Name]! I need you to jump on line one and finish handling a client’s case!”

Me: “What? Why?!”

Coworker: “I picked up the phone and after a minute or two realized I really had to pee! You can handle it; he just needs help filling in a certain section of his registration.”

(My coworker runs off and I end up answering the phone to a client having severe technical difficulties, and I spend over 20 minutes sorting it out. After that call, another client calls, and another, and so forth until I’ve spent over 45 minutes on the phone and my coworker still isn’t back yet. I manage to find her in the kitchen waiting for the kettle to boil and talking to someone in another department.)

Me: “Where have you been?! You were supposed to come right back from the bathroom so I could go back to my lunch!”

Coworker: “Yeah, but it’s stressful answering those calls! I just needed a little breather to refresh. I’ll go get the next caller.”

Me: “Good. I’m taking the rest of my lunch outside. I won’t be there if you need to use the bathroom again.”

Coworker: “Okay, fine! Jeez! It was just a little break!”

(Shortly afterward coworker stopped printing her files and would email them to me asking me to print and file them for her since I was “already right there”. I left for a job at another department and she quit the company altogether about a month later because it was “too stressful” for her. The rest of us had no issues and found the job to be relatively easy. She was the one making it stressful!)


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