The Notelet War (or, How to write a snarky office note that actually does something)

A different kind of note than I normally discuss here.

For a while at the office, we’ve had a note on the microwave that says

If you use this machine, clean it.

Or some variant thereof. This morning I walked in and it said

Wh-a-a-a-a-t? Someone’s lunch exploded! Please clean the wave [sic]

I opened up the microwave and sure enough there was some crusty, cheesy and tomato-y residue. Not my lunch , but … I needed to use the microwave and considered just using it with what was in there, because I want my tea as fast as possible, but there was the possibility that something would fall off the roof of the microwave into my tea, and then I’d have to clean the microwave anyway and then make another cup of tea, so I did the adult thing and cleaned the microwave out of a robust sense of pure goodly self-interest.

But I was a little ticked about the note. And it wasn’t just that they abbreviated microwave with just “wave” and didn’t even put an apostrophe. I don’t know if it’s written by the same person who puts notes on the fridge in all caps rife with misspellings, grammar errors, omitted words, and lack of punctuation, but what really miffed me is that this note didn’t accomplish anything important. So I wrote a note that

It probably took you just as long to write the note as it would have to clean the microwave.

Those of you who are mature, rational adults are probably shaking your heads right now and realizing that this would not end well. Fortunately, all parties declared a cessation of hostilities and nothing really came of it.

Some people don’t like notes. I do. They’re just wonderful for passive-aggressive behavior, which is my favorite kind of behavior.

Back when I worked as an editor, we had a party one day, and a coworker, B, had baked something tasty (probably babkas, and since her name starts with a B, I’ll just name her Babka). She put her dishes in the sink at work afterward, and someone threw them out. These weren’t ambiguous dishes of any sort. They weren’t some aluminum trays or anything like that. They were nice CorningWare glass dishes, clearly meant to be reused and not tossed out.

This came on the heels of someone tossing out some blue cheese of mine, presumably because it looked moldy. (It doesn’t go bad! Itgoes good!) So I wrote a little note:

Please don’t throw out other people’s stuff.

And I put it on the wall behind the sink.

Whereupon later that evening, after I had gone home, some irony-deficient soul threw out my note.

So I made another and hung it up.

That one got thrown out by lunch time.

This time I made two.

Please don’t throw out other people’s stuff. This includes signs asking you to not throw out other peoples’ stuff.

Both trashed.

Come on, at least recycle.

My next task was to ensure that the sign couldn’t be thrown out. Being just a piece of paper, this is quite difficult, because, in the same way a person can shrug off a single papercut, a human can easily overpower a single piece of paper. But many papercuts may make even the strongest warrior cry out in agony! So I did what any sensible person would do, and that’s make dozens of copies, stay at work very late, and then paper the entire wall of the kitchen with signs.

Naturally, the next day, someone came around and explained that she had been removing signs because she found them “unprofessional,” though no mention was made of how unprofessional it was to throw away someone’s dishes, and was looking for the person who made the signs. My co-workers, bless their hearts, did not rat me out.

My boss called me into her office and asked me, even though she couldn’t prove it was me, not to put up any more signs.

This was right about the time that things really started to go downhill, businesswise, at that office, right before we knew for sure that the editorial contract my section worked on — which was the biggest one there — was going to someone else, and we were all going to die get fired be restructured.

Now, whenever I write a little sarcastic note at work, I wonder if this was the sort of thing that factored into my being laid off when it came time to pick and choose who got to stay.

hmmmm … naaaaaah.

Hey, I promised to tell you about an office note actually doing something, not something good!


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