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A not-so-subtle clue that your coworker isn’t interested in cubicle small talk

October 24th, 2010 · 92 comments

Writes our submitter in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania: “A woman in my office was recently relocated to a new cubicle, apparently against her will. I don’t really know her, but I guess now I know not what not to use as an ice breaker!”


related: Really, enough about the weather.

FILED UNDER: CAPS LOCK · let me stop you right there · most popular notes of 2010 · office · Pennsylvania · small talk

92 responses so far ↓

  • #1   Gretchen

    As a fellow despiser of small talk, I can’t help but love this.

    Oct 24, 2010 at 9:44 pm   rating: 155  small thumbs up

    • #1.1   WMDKitty

      I’m Team Note-Writer on this one, myself.

      I’m not at work/school/riding the bus/whatever to TALK to people.

      Oct 25, 2010 at 5:09 am   rating: 54  small thumbs up

  • #2   jen

    i love it.

    Oct 24, 2010 at 9:45 pm   rating: 9  small thumbs up

  • #3   Texrtw

    From the tone of the note, she was assigned to new spot so she could recover from her recent personality bypass operation.

    Oct 24, 2010 at 9:50 pm   rating: 126  small thumbs up

  • #4   Amy

    Maybe her supervisor got tired of her sparkling personality and upbeat attitude (for now).

    Oct 24, 2010 at 9:51 pm   rating: 89  small thumbs up

  • #5   Jamie

    Just don’t take her red Swingline stapler!

    Oct 24, 2010 at 9:51 pm   rating: 81  small thumbs up

    • #5.1   Mo® bang

      She’ll burn the building down!

      Oct 25, 2010 at 8:35 am   rating: 7  small thumbs up

    • #5.2   The Elf

      Or put strychnine in the guacamole.

      Oct 25, 2010 at 9:40 am   rating: 5  small thumbs up

    • #5.3   Ed Depaine

      Breast milk in the coffee creamer?

      Oct 25, 2010 at 2:26 pm   rating: 8  small thumbs up

  • #6   KST

    Someone should have added onto “no I don’t know why” so it says “no I don’t know why I’m such a bitch.”

    Oct 24, 2010 at 9:51 pm   rating: 39  small thumbs up

    • #6.1   Nola

      this is hilarious :))

      Oct 25, 2010 at 5:09 pm   rating: 0  small thumbs up

    • #6.2   Gretchen

      Hell, I’d put that on my own note.

      Oct 25, 2010 at 7:24 pm   rating: 4  small thumbs up

    • #6.3   Sue

      I disagree. I’ve had people stop by my desk and ask the same questions, over, and over and over, that I’ve wanted to put up a sign like this!

      Oct 26, 2010 at 3:17 pm   rating: 15  small thumbs up

    • #6.4   snuzzled

      Or “No I don’t know why I put this note up.”

      Oct 31, 2010 at 12:22 am   rating: 0  small thumbs up

  • #7   Melodie

    I tell you what: we got a new fish tank in my office, and someone bungled the setup, so no matter what we do, the water keeps getting cloudy.

    The tank is right beside my desk, in plain sight as soon as you walk through the door, so at least ten times a day, someone walks in and says “Whoa, you need to clean your fishtank!” As if there is any possibility at all that I haven’t noticed this myself.

    And so I have become the kind of person who imagines workplace violence.

    I wish I could force people to read a handout before speaking to me.


    Oct 24, 2010 at 10:02 pm   rating: 128  small thumbs up

    • #7.1   AMoparGirl

      You need to put up your own note.

      Oct 24, 2010 at 10:13 pm   rating: 28  small thumbs up

    • #7.2   pony girl

      She needs to get one of those little signs they put into fishtanks (usually near a shipwreck and a treasure chest) custom made to put in the fishtank telling people to kiss her arse (or ass.)

      Oct 24, 2010 at 10:25 pm   rating: 6  small thumbs up

    • #7.3   FeRD bang

      But how will anyone see it through the cloudy water? ;)

      Oct 24, 2010 at 10:32 pm   rating: 35  small thumbs up

    • #7.4   se bang

      Well, Melodie, when will you clean out your fish tank?

      Oct 24, 2010 at 11:32 pm   rating: 13  small thumbs up

    • #7.5   BN

      A local restaurant had a fishtank in the waiting area – there was a fish in it that was just huge. They had a sign on the tank, something about “Yes, I’m big! No, I’m not too big for my tank! Yes, my owner is sure!” etc to stop people from hassling the hostess about it for the zillionth time that day.

      Oct 25, 2010 at 7:10 am   rating: 26  small thumbs up

    • #7.6   shwonline bang

      Maybe when they say “you need to clean your fishtank,” they don’t mean the fish tank…

      Oct 25, 2010 at 10:54 am   rating: 21  small thumbs up

    • #7.7   Ed Depaine

      “Sit with your legs crossed honey.”

      Oct 25, 2010 at 2:27 pm   rating: 10  small thumbs up

    • #7.8   RioIriri

      If it’s white cloudy:
      Get a product called “Stability” by Seachem and use it according to the directions. It will make a huge difference.

      If it’s green cloudy:
      Get a product called “Algone” and add it to the filter according to the directions. It might take a few days to see results with Algone, but continued use will be a great deterrent. If you want faster results, get “Algaecontrol” by Tetra and use it in conjunction with the Algone.

      – former aquatic biologist, & had done aquarium maintenance for a job for years (before arthritis grounded me from the heavy lifting, sigh). If you have any questions, the website link goes to my current company, and you can use the webform on there. Good luck.

      Oct 25, 2010 at 8:24 pm   rating: 33  small thumbs up

  • #8   pony girl


    Oct 24, 2010 at 10:09 pm   rating: 59  small thumbs up

    • #8.1   se bang

      gigglebrax failure…

      failure was on my part.. sorry I wasn’t clear..

      Oct 24, 2010 at 11:30 pm   rating: 1  small thumbs up

    • #8.2   pony girl


      Oct 24, 2010 at 11:39 pm   rating: 2  small thumbs up

    • #8.3   tinkerbell2

      yes, how? this clearly refers to the note itself. Comprehension fail.

      Oct 25, 2010 at 6:27 am   rating: 7  small thumbs up

    • #8.4   butt

      I don’t like ending with punctuation either, what of it

      Oct 25, 2010 at 10:33 pm   rating: 1  small thumbs up

  • #9   Go Phillies!


    Oct 24, 2010 at 10:12 pm   rating: 33  small thumbs up

  • #10   Penfold


    Oct 24, 2010 at 10:14 pm   rating: 3  small thumbs up

    • #10.1   FeRD bang

      Press play. Soon.

      Oct 24, 2010 at 10:24 pm   rating: 6  small thumbs up

  • #11   Joe Blow

    Future wearer of the moniker: “A quiet person who kept to herself. We never would have suspected she was capable of this…”

    Oct 24, 2010 at 10:22 pm   rating: 63  small thumbs up

  • #12   DarkCatalyst

    A not so subtle message: If you’re going to open your mouth, at least TRY to be interesting. As someone who hates inane small talk, I totally agree with her message. It’ll put those chatty narcissists in their place.

    Oct 24, 2010 at 10:27 pm   rating: 40  small thumbs up

  • #13   nerazurri bang


    Oct 24, 2010 at 10:29 pm   rating: 13  small thumbs up

  • #14   sarah

    maybe if she had put it in comic sans it would have come off as more ‘playful’…

    Oct 24, 2010 at 10:38 pm   rating: 53  small thumbs up

  • #15   Jesse

    Complaining about it being a shorter walk to the bathroom??? What is wrong with this person? I would love to have a nice short walk to the facilities instead of what I have now.

    Oct 24, 2010 at 10:39 pm   rating: 1  small thumbs up

    • #15.1   jadefirefly

      I don’t think it’s a complaint. It sounds like they’ve probably just heard it a million times already.

      Picture the scene. A serene, peaceful office setting. As the sun rises over the cube farm, a recently-relocated worker attempts to settle into their new home.

      Queue the endless stream of well-wishers who stop by to inquire about the new lodgings.
      “Is it quieter over here?”
      “Why’d you move?”
      “Oh, do you sit here now?”
      “Huh. Guess you’re further away from the copier now.”
      And the ever-popular office cheering-up method:
      “Well, you’re closer to the bathroom now!”

      I’d flip my shit within 30 minutes.

      Oct 24, 2010 at 11:34 pm   rating: 110  small thumbs up

    • #15.2   Canthz_B bang

      Jesse, be careful what you wish for. You just may change your mind after hearing the handicapped special needs toilet flush a few dozen times.

      Then there’s the whole fecal mist issue…

      Oct 25, 2010 at 12:51 am   rating: 11  small thumbs up

    • #15.3   Bored@Work bang

      Fecal Mist??? Yeechh. There’s a soda that isn’t catching on.

      Think I’ll just stick to my Mounting Dew….
      (Okay, that’s funny in two ways.)

      Oct 26, 2010 at 7:41 am   rating: 9  small thumbs up

  • #16

    I like this guy’s style. I despise small talk too.

    Oct 24, 2010 at 10:40 pm   rating: 3  small thumbs up

  • #17   May

    I love her!

    Oct 24, 2010 at 11:02 pm   rating: 5  small thumbs up

  • #18   Guy

    Wow. She’s really full of herself. What a bitch. I hope you get someone nicer to work with soon.

    Oct 24, 2010 at 11:57 pm   rating: 5  small thumbs up

    • #18.1   tinkerbell2

      I agree. What, her time is too precious to make nice for 5 minutes here and there? It’s called basic human interaction.

      Oct 25, 2010 at 6:30 am   rating: 3  small thumbs up

    • #18.2   Pterosaur

      5 minutes per inane conversation * 1 conversation on the way to the nearby bathroom * 4 bathroom visits per day * 20 coworkers = 400 minutes wasted daily, over 6.5 hours

      I bet when the third quarter numbers come in, management will fire Ms. Note Writer for being unproductive.

      Oct 25, 2010 at 9:30 am   rating: 36  small thumbs up

    • #18.3   LainTexas

      Who makes four trips to the bathroom a day? Unless you’re ill, of course.

      Oct 25, 2010 at 10:54 am   rating: 2  small thumbs up

    • #18.4   rft42

      less than 4 trips? I wish I worked your hours

      Oct 25, 2010 at 11:50 am   rating: 22  small thumbs up

    • #18.5   Nightfire bang

      People that drink coffee all day, I’d assume, Lain

      Oct 25, 2010 at 12:18 pm   rating: 8  small thumbs up

    • #18.6   Noelegy

      Or water. Or have small bladders. Or are diabetic. Or pregnant. The possibilities are endless.

      Oct 26, 2010 at 10:16 am   rating: 9  small thumbs up

    • #18.7   clumber

      18.6 may i just add: people who hit “OMFG these people are too stupid to manage swallowing without drowning! ARRRGH!” and need to escape to the relative quiet and alone-space of the restroom stall. Just for a few minutes or a few games of Droid Angry Birds. Breathe. Breathe.

      There are days when 4 such trips have been made before lunchtime…

      Oct 26, 2010 at 11:26 am   rating: 17  small thumbs up

  • #19   Canthz_B bang

    Lastly, “No, I don’t live here, so stop asking how I like my new home!”

    Oct 25, 2010 at 12:45 am   rating: 5  small thumbs up

  • #20   Nahhh bang

    I have an urge to give her a (clean) kitty-litter box as a cube-warming gift.

    Oct 25, 2010 at 3:35 am   rating: 0  small thumbs up

    • #20.1   Wordtinker doesnt smith bang

      I’ll go halfsies with you on the litter box, if we can fill it with home made goodies to entice her office mates over for a chat.

      Oct 25, 2010 at 5:51 am   rating: 4  small thumbs up

  • #21   blossom_87 bang

    LOL reminds me of when my daughter was born, I was sooo tempted to stick a sign to her pram saying
    *my baby is ___ days/weeks old
    *her name is Emily
    *she was born at X hospital
    *yes, I had a natural delivery
    *she weighed 7&’10 and is gaining well
    *sleeping as well as newborns do
    *yes, thankyou, I know she’s adorable

    Can definitely understand this person’s motives but yeah, kind of bitchy to actually do it.

    Oct 25, 2010 at 6:59 am   rating: 33  small thumbs up

    • #21.1   Dani

      A friend of a friend of mine actually got a tshirt made up with all that stuff on it (not the actual days/weeks, obviously). Was trying to find the photo, but it appears to have be lost.

      Oct 25, 2010 at 6:42 pm   rating: 1  small thumbs up

  • #22   Goldie

    No it’s not Friday yet

    Yes you can go home now, I don’t give a crap

    No, we’re not having fun yet

    Yes I’m making coffee

    Yes I’m making tea

    Yes this really is my lunch

    Can you tell I love this woman? She needs to put her note on a T-shirt and get to selling.

    Oct 25, 2010 at 7:22 am   rating: 36  small thumbs up

    • #22.1   Mo® bang

      Yes it is hot/cold enough for me

      Oct 25, 2010 at 8:42 am   rating: 8  small thumbs up

    • #22.2   Woman on the Verge bang

      No I do not want to kiss your ass

      Oct 25, 2010 at 8:46 am   rating: 6  small thumbs up

    • #22.3   GhostWriter bang

      “Given the false dilemna you propose, I would have to say I’m ‘working hard.’”

      Oct 25, 2010 at 9:17 am   rating: 33  small thumbs up

    • #22.4   Canthz_B bang

      Yes, I am happy to see you!

      Oct 25, 2010 at 4:01 pm   rating: 4  small thumbs up

  • #23   Woman on the Verge bang

    I completely understand the frustration with answering the same questions over and over, but I would have to drop off a note to her that says:


    Oct 25, 2010 at 8:06 am   rating: 6  small thumbs up

  • #24   matt

    Of course she was forced to relocate closer to the toilet. Those trailing piles of shit across the floor when she didn’t quite make it made everybody dry heave

    Oct 25, 2010 at 8:45 am   rating: 1  small thumbs up

  • #25   GhostWriter bang

    There is no stream of antagonists; it’s just one guy who keeps asking all the same questions over and over, thinking that somehow the conversation will end with, “Let’s have lunch!”

    Oct 25, 2010 at 9:19 am   rating: 26  small thumbs up

  • #26   The Elf

    Team note-writer! I sympathize, having suffered an incomprehensible cubicle move in the past. They moved me from the 3rd down, 2nd in cubicle to 4th down, 1st in. I was truly puzzled. What I really loved is that they ran out of cubicle walls or something and thus left out the wall that was on the hallway. All that day, as I unpacked and filed everything, people kept coming by and asking me why I was moved and what’s wrong with this missing wall. Gah! In the end, I moved the under-desk file cabinets to the space where the wall should have been and got a very large plant. Insta-wall. Cubicle life was tolerable again.

    Oct 25, 2010 at 9:37 am   rating: 27  small thumbs up

    • #26.1   clumber

      If the very large plant was also toxic in some way, i will find a way to give you multiple thumbs.

      Oct 26, 2010 at 11:29 am   rating: 4  small thumbs up

    • #26.2   The Elf

      It was a 3 1/2 foot fake fern. Very bushy. I suppose if you injested that, it would be toxic. Alas, the cube was indoors so no real plant could have survived.

      Oct 26, 2010 at 12:48 pm   rating: 1  small thumbs up

    • #26.3   TippingCows

      I was thinking a life-sized Venus Flytrap.

      Oct 27, 2010 at 9:42 pm   rating: 2  small thumbs up

  • #27   Savannah

    The receptionist at my work is a good friend of mine. People constantly walk by her desk and say “Wake up!” which irritates her to no end (she’s always working when they say this–or at least appearing to work). I’m thinking of making her a sign now.

    Oct 25, 2010 at 10:00 am   rating: 13  small thumbs up

    • #27.1   pony girl

      That is beyond rude.
      Screw a sign, I’d be plotting my revenge.

      Oct 26, 2010 at 3:33 pm   rating: 8  small thumbs up

  • #28   Nightfire bang

    Team note-writer on this. Getting asked the same things over and over again when you know the people don’t care and are just trying to make small talk is only tolerable for so long.

    Oct 25, 2010 at 10:13 am   rating: 31  small thumbs up

  • #29   Sara

    While I can see where the note-writer is coming from, it’s still poor form. Grin and bear it for a few days, why don’t you? Truly inspired small-talkers aren’t going to see the note, anyway.

    If I was the neighbor I’d put up my own note saying “thanks for relieving me of the chore of having to pretend I want to talk to you”

    Oct 25, 2010 at 10:26 am   rating: 9  small thumbs up

  • #30   berge bang

    I hate the small talk also, and have found if you just go on one long crazy rant, everyone eventually leaves you alone. :)

    Oct 25, 2010 at 10:50 am   rating: 16  small thumbs up

    • #30.1   clumber

      I find that having a grumpy personality eventually achieves the same end.

      Oh… and I suppose having the very last cubicle in a secure area helps too.

      Oct 26, 2010 at 11:31 am   rating: 2  small thumbs up

  • #31   rft420

    I once had a desk next to the office printer, which meant everytime someone was waiting for a print job, I had to carry on small talk with them while it printed. I grew to hate my coworkers.

    But I’m still NOT team notewriter

    Oct 25, 2010 at 11:54 am   rating: 5  small thumbs up

  • #32   ashmeadow

    Yeah, nobody’s trying to make small talk, because those aren’t really small talk questions. Those are “I want to be ‘in the know’ about what happens in this office, so I have something to gossip about” questions. I can just see everyone around the water cooler now:

    “Hey did you hear about Sandra’s move?”
    “Yeah, she’s moved so much further from the copier, now.”
    “I wonder if it’s quieter?”
    “Don’t ask her. She doesn’t want to talk about the move.”
    “What a bitch! She’ s so much closer to the bathroom!”

    Oct 25, 2010 at 12:38 pm   rating: 22  small thumbs up

    • #32.1   berge bang

      “It’s a good thing she doesn’t know why the moved her, or she’d REALLY have something to write notes about”

      Oct 25, 2010 at 1:20 pm   rating: 4  small thumbs up

  • #33   oi

    I think this is a desperate attention plea. oh look at me I am such a bitch to you. Please look at me. I am sure nobody is remotely interested in interacting with her anyway. The fact that she posted this note all to see proves that she does not hesitate in throwing bitchfit without slightest provocation in person interaction. I for one sure do not make a small talk with such persons, note or no note. Actually I’d minimize the personal interaction. The emails are great for this.
    That is why she has to resort to creating the problems so that she can portray herself as the only hard working martyr worker and others as stupid slackers.
    Everybody knows that if you have to team work with NW she would make sure that your inbox is bombarded with every detail, however slightly related, but the ones you actually need. So you go and ask for that and she has one more stupid coworker whose job she has to explain to them. See how miserable her life is? Damn! she has to deal with stupid coworkers who would not leave her alone!

    Oct 25, 2010 at 1:43 pm   rating: 8  small thumbs up

    • #33.1   Sue

      Jeeze! Calm down already!

      Oct 26, 2010 at 3:21 pm   rating: 10  small thumbs up

    • #33.2   Sue

      I sit by the treats/donuts table. Do you know how many times I get asked these questions? “Who brought the treats?” “What kind of brownies are these?” “What’s the occassion?” “Are there any more?” “Who brought the treats?” “Who brought the treats?” “Who brought the treats?”

      Oct 26, 2010 at 3:23 pm   rating: 15  small thumbs up

    • #33.3   Mark bang

      So, who brought the treats?

      Oct 26, 2010 at 3:59 pm   rating: 19  small thumbs up

  • #34   Madrias

    From an experienced small-talker, I know which topics to avoid trodding on. If you need to make small talk, do so in a nice way. Mention how nice someone’s hair looks that day, or how the new cubicle spacing put a light where it really brings out their eyes. Mention that it looks like they got a nice computer out of it, or some little thing that won’t irritate.

    As for the notewriter, I’d suggest purchasing a nice loud airhorn.

    Oct 25, 2010 at 2:46 pm   rating: 3  small thumbs up

  • #35   divaandwriter bang

    Dear New Cubicle Neighbor:

    Thank you for answering all my questions. Now I won’t have to be bothered talking to you. If I have any further questions, I’ll email you.

    Oct 26, 2010 at 9:34 am   rating: 1  small thumbs up

  • #36   Noelegy

    This looks like a corner cubicle. As a former dweller of same, I can testify that people loved to gather there and talk endlessly. Not TO me, just…there. I tried complaining to management, but managers were some of the most egregious offenders. I tried putting up a sign that said “Quiet Please” because I had to be on the phone a lot, but was told to take it down. I envy an office where you can head chitchat off at the pass in this manner.

    Oct 26, 2010 at 10:12 am   rating: 9  small thumbs up

  • #37   Bcal92

    I am a facilities guy and this is my life. I don’t even get all “teh crazy,” HR filters a bunch out.

    Oct 26, 2010 at 1:48 pm   rating: 0  small thumbs up

  • #38   bibberly

    Having been moved several times at a previous job, I wish I had thought to make a sign like this. Especially when I was moved into the file room (just stick a desk in there!), where everyone had to go many times throughout the day. It’s not only super annoying to answer these questions repeatedly, but it really does take a chunk of your time, not to mention breaking your concentration.
    Now I work at a school. The A/C goes out a lot (we’re in Florida). How many times a day can I answer each student and teacher who says, “It sure is hot, isn’t it?” I just want a t-shirt that says, “Yes, I’m just as hot as you are.” Oh wait, that might be inappropriate…

    Oct 27, 2010 at 6:11 pm   rating: 8  small thumbs up

  • #39   Isa

    Poor baby has to walk a little further to the copier? Aww.

    Oct 27, 2010 at 9:41 pm   rating: 0  small thumbs up

  • #40   TippingCows

    I don’t think it’s rude at all. She didn’t call anyone a name, didn’t swear, and didn’t threaten anyone.

    She’s just heading off stupid conversation at the pass.

    For the sake of management, she’s trying to be a more PRODUCTIVE worker. Now give her a red Swingline, stat!

    Oct 27, 2010 at 9:44 pm   rating: 18  small thumbs up

    • #40.1   Madrias

      Also, some of those government-issue staples, too. You know, like the ones the CIA guys always end up smacking into someone’s head in the movies? Perfect weapon of doom in an office.

      Oct 27, 2010 at 9:56 pm   rating: 3  small thumbs up

  • #41   bearcat

    A very tall friend of mine had a t-shirt made that said “No, I don’t play basketball.” It was totally justified.

    Oct 28, 2010 at 8:00 pm   rating: 12  small thumbs up

  • #42   Sal

    I made a shirt like this for a family reunion once. It read:

    “Sally, John and Jane’s oldest daughter.
    17 years old.
    Junior year.
    Yes, I’ve started thinking about college.
    No, I don’t know what I want to study
    Yes, I’m aware that I’ve grown since you last saw me”

    Oct 29, 2010 at 6:46 am   rating: 9  small thumbs up

  • #43   terr

    I so work in this office building. I recognize the floor grates, they’re pretty unique. I’m going to go look for that desk!

    Oct 29, 2010 at 11:30 am   rating: 0  small thumbs up

  • #44   Caitlin S

    I can sympathize with her. Owning an interesting dog means you get the same questions and “jokes” over and over again.

    “Yes, she is a Great Dane. I know she’s very big. She weighs 150 lbs. They don’t actually eat that much for their size because they are too lazy to burn much energy, but it is still quite a lot of food. She does take up the whole couch or bed. She does think she’s a person. I know her poop is the size of your Chihuahua” (not that she does that in public). ”

    And for the love of GOD, do NOT ask if she’s a pony or whether you can put a saddle on her. There’s a point at which it is somewhat funny, and then you just want to slap everyone. Hard.

    These questions are really only okay from children, but with kids you’re too busy trying to tell them she’s too lazy to do anything but accept their love.

    Nov 3, 2010 at 10:42 pm   rating: 9  small thumbs up


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