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Being at work with other people can be irritating


This month you responded to a column about prickly pear co-workers with your own stories of space cadets, know-it-alls, perfectionists, tragic figures, scatterbrains, lazy-bones and back-stabbers:

* "I work with the ultimate space cadet -- nice guy, salt of the earth, do anything for you, but he can't remember anything for longer than 60 seconds, can't make a deadline to save his life, can't for the life of him finish one job before he takes a swipe at another," wrote a reader from Lebanon, N.H. "He's slowing down the whole department."

* "The co-worker I'd like to ship to you in a box works at the desk next to mine, and is the know-it-all of all time," wrote an insurance adjuster from Dallas. "If you tell a story, he's already heard it. If you repeat something from the grapevine, you've always got it wrong. No matter how much you know, he knows more -- and is willing to spend an hour of your time proving it.

"He can't understand why the rest of us avoid him like the plague!"

* But a reader from Charleston, S.C., wrote, "I'd rather work with a prickly pear any day than a paranoid perfectionist who wastes hours every day making sure that every 'i' is dotted and every 't' is crossed, while completely losing track of the big picture, i.e. what she and the rest of us are supposed to be accomplishing!"

* A Kansas reader wrote that working with a tragic figure is no picnic, either. "If you ask her how she is, she whines, 'Oh, OK . . . I guess.' If you ask what's wrong, she sighs and says, 'Oh, nothing . . . you wouldn't understand.' "

* "The scourge of our office is just plain lazy," wrote a DTC Bloomington, Ill., reader. "She does the bare minimum necessary to keep her job, but manages to look terribly busy most of the time, somehow fooling our boss completely -- perhaps because she's also young and very attractive."

* And a New Orleans reader wrote, "We work with someone who simply doesn't pull her own weight, but how can you stay mad at someone who brings you flowers for no reason, sees to it that everyone in the office has a birthday party and is always willing to cover for one of us if we have to leave work early because of a sick kid or doctor's appointment?

"You can't. So you do your work and hers. And drop broad hints (which she never notices). And look the other way. And make excuses for her. And shake your head."

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