Last Monday morning, I had a meeting scheduled at 11:30AM to discuss the title of my new book with Dave Ramsey. He’s sold millions of books and written a couple of New York Time’s Bestsellers. I was eager for his advice.
The weekend before, I practiced my ten-minute, “Here is why this title is the best one,” monologue like it was a speech. I sat down in our spare bedroom, because I knew I’d be sitting in the meeting and recreated the meeting as closely as possible. (I am wicked weird.)
I went through the whole thing a couple of times, timing myself to make sure I had my rhythm right and was making only the most salient points. I was ready for my 11:30AM meeting. That is until 10:03, when my phone rang and the person who hired me told me, “Dave’s up in my office, come on up let’s go ahead and do this right now.”
I immediately threw out what I call an “office prayer.” Why? Because I needed the printer to work. I already had one copy of the agenda printed out but now the number of attendees had tripled in size. I needed to print multiple copies and I needed them fast. I can’t prove this, but sometimes I think our printer can sense dire need like dogs sense fear and automatically slows itself down just to mess with me. So I prayed for a fast print job.
Have you ever prayed an office prayer? I know I have over the last 12 years I’ve worked in offices of various shapes and sizes.
Here are the Office Prayers I’ve prayed the most:
1. That I would show grace to the guy who turns on the lights.
I once worked at a company where 25 of us liked to work with the bright, soul sucking fluorescent lights off. And one guy liked them on. He’d come in for the second shift at 10AM and laugh the whole way down the hall because he loved messing with the people who preferred the lights off. (A light switch is a weird thing to get a power trip over, but there it is. I promise you work with this guy too.) I need to show guys like that way more grace.
2. That no one would heat up seafood in the break room.
I’m happy that you had conch fritters last night at the new Caribbean restaurant in town. And you got sea bass too? Again, fantastic. But when you heat it up the next day at work, you turn the entire break room into a pier. If my prayer fails, and you do get all “Dead Lobster” in our cubicles, at least don’t feign surprise at the oceanic funk you’ve created. Every office seafood eater I’ve ever met has said, “I don’t know what that smell is, must be someone else’s lunch.” Sure it is.
3. That I wouldn’t get into any “urinal conversations.”
It’s a bathroom, not a conference room. I don’t talk to you, you don’t talk to me, and we’ll get out of this place quickly. We’ll talk in the hall. Unless what you need to say is, “There is a poisonous spider on your back, don’t move,” chances are, our conversation can wait 42 seconds. Does that make me weird? Without a doubt, but I will also never answer the phone while in the bathroom if you call me. So I’ve got that going for me, which is nice.
4. That I would discover leftover food from a meeting, or “Office Manna.”
My favorite flavor of food is “free.” In general, I find free food to be pretty delicious as a category. When I worked at AutoTrader.com we went through a serious of intense projects. In order to save time, the company graciously brought in lunch for us. There was a hall of conference rooms that became like a food court. Want Mexican? Go to the room with all the developers. Italian? Check out the project management room. Finding leftovers from meetings in a conference room was like “Office Manna” to me.
5. That I’d resist the temptation to jump people at the printer.
I know given my street youth appearance and sassy mouth, you probably thought I meant, “jump” as in fight. Not at all. On some printers, when there is a long list of print jobs going through, you can increase the priority of yours. You go to the “job list,” find your document in a pile of 20 other jobs and jump it to the front. A lot of people don’t know how to do that, but I do because I did it all the time if no one was at the printer. (So I was a jerk and a coward.) I know printer etiquette isn’t mentioned directly in the Bible, but the “first shall be last” kind of thing has to apply to office settings too.
6. That I would win the microwave race.
I don’t care if your lunch takes 19 minutes to heat up. That’s the whole point of a break room microwave. It heats up lunch. I will never complain that your food is taking too long. But I promise you that I will be praying I beat you to the microwave. I consider that a fantastic office race, “first to the microwave.”
7. That I have the strength of three staplers.
What’s your personal best for number of pieces of paper you can staple through with a standard issue stapler? Mine is 23. When I attempt 24, I end up with that incredibly disappointing, bent out of control, sharp shard of a staple that refuses to go through all the pages but also refuses to come out easily. It’s a mangled mess. Sometimes I pray for Samson like staple strength.
Have you ever prayed one of those seven or invented your own? Have you ever said an office prayer that upon uttering you realized was pretty silly?
What’s your office prayer?