Columns Opinion — 09 December 2013
Hobie & Monk: Office makeup routine drives co-worker up the wall

Dear Hobie & Monk,

When my co-worker has drop-off duties for her children, she doesn’t have time to do anything in the morning (her wording). When she arrives in her office, which is across from my cubicle, she does her hair and makeup and leaves her office door wide open so that we can all see and smell the curling iron and hairspray that are part of her routine. Sounds like she needs a lesson in time management. Am I wrong to think this way?

- Save me from distraction

Hobie: Wow. People still use curling irons?

Sorry, I got distracted, as I’m sure you do every morning when you’d prefer to focus on more professional concerns. Yes, of course, this is wildly inappropriate behavior, but I’m not going to comment on her time management skills or morning priorities or parenting duties as excuses for the real problem: her bizarre inability to close her door.

Because here’s the deal: We all get to figure out how to make life work for us each morning, whether that includes getting kids to school, walking French bulldogs (whose idea of walking is a whole lot more like standing still), doing the crossword, guzzling high-octane coffee so that we can bear to be gracious to other humans, etc. Whatever it is, that’s our business.

Maybe that also means turning our sweaters right side out and flinging on some makeup once we get to work (this is all hypothetical, of course). But we don’t get to do anything at the visual or aromatic expense of others in the office space.

Thus we learn to either finish grooming in the restroom or close our office door. Tell her — or tell her supervisor — that the routine needs to happen in private.

Monk: Of course people still use curling irons. How else does one achieve Farrah Fawcett hair?

But that’s not the issue here. The issue, from my perspective as an independent business owner, is that someone is paying Miss Clairol to do a job when she comes to work, and unless her job title is supermodel, she is gilding the lily at someone else’s expense. Think about it: If girlfriend undertakes the beauty routine three times per week for 20 minutes per glam session, that’s an hour a week of missed work that she’s being paid for.

Of course, I’m guessing about frequency and duration, but you get the point. Over time, her routine is not only stinky and distracting for her co-workers, but it’s expensive for her employer. I think the routine needs to happen in private — and on her time.

To submit questions to Hobie & Monk, email hobieandmonk@alextimes.com.

Hobie and Monk are two Alexandria women with husbands, children, dogs, jobs, mortgages, unmet New Year’s resolutions, obsessions with impractical shoes, English novels … and Ph.D.s in clinical psychology. Their advice, while fabulous, should not be construed as therapeutic within a doctor-patient context or substituted for the advice of readers’ personal advisors.

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