More People Who Drive Me Nuts (IM Edition)

I miss mail bearing
my name, problems solved slowly,
hard copy rhythms.


In a previous post, I highlighted the types of people I encounter in meetings who drive me crazy. I’m now turning my pen toward those colleagues who use instant messaging. Once again, if I work with you and you are reading this, you are of course above such behavior and none of these profiles are anything remotely like you. However, the following are the types of people I encounter multiple times each day. They drive me nuts.

1. Ms. Unhelpfully Brief.  Her IMs show up when I’m at my desk or away, but they always say the same thing. “Hi!”. That’s it. No further words of explanation. No indication at to the criticality of her need. Just a “hi” that requires a response for me to know more. She is such a tease. But I have a tactic for dealing with her. I ignore her. About an hour later, she adds “you there?”. Nothing more, just dipping the line the water but not willing to put any meat on the hook.  I continue to ignore her. I refuse to respond until it is clear to me whether this is a 2 min IM or a 20 minutes suck-the-life-out-of-you typing session that leaves me wishing for stone tablet communication tools. I tell anyone I’m working with: if you want me to respond, give me some more to go one.

2. Mr. Gives Me Too Much. Obviously the evil twin of the first person. He not only says hi, but then he begins to type. And type. And type. And when I try to wedge in some response, to stem the flow, he ignores me and keeps going. It’s like he has typing diarrhea and can’t stop until he is empty.  By this time (usually double-digit time has elapsed) I’ve left for my next meeting. When I come back, there are two final notes: “You still there?” and “Nevermind, I’ll send an email.”  Argh! That was where you should have started buddy! The good news is I can recognize these now so I don’t invest much, since he’ll usually run himself out and revert to email… without me having to do anything at all. Not too bad.

3. Ms. Multi Topic. She is cunning. Like the fox in some fable, she sidles in acting all friendly. Asks me a question right up front so I know what I’m in for and I willingly engage. And then she asks something else. This conversation is a little more complicated, and just as I’m about to finish that up she ping pongs onto another semi-related topic (when I say semi-related, I mean as related as semi colon and semi truck…), which again, now that I’m up to my knickers in her stuff, I can’t pull myself away from. Twenty minutes later, usually the only twenty minutes I had free in my whole effing day, I extract myself from her grip with a “sorry, I have to go” after which I shut down my computer before she can reply, turn off my office light and hide under the desk. What makes her so awful is that after all that, I’m the one who feels bad because I had to cut her off. She should feel bad, not me, but noooooo. That’s not how it works. I don’t like her. Aesop probably wrote something about her; I need to find it and leave a copy on her desk to see if she takes a hint.

4. Mr. Self Important.  “I need to talk to you about something” is what he sends me; no intro, no explanation. Yeah, I think, so what? (Bear in mind I work with a few VPs, and when they write this, I respond briskly and respectfully. This guy is basically the janitor’s sister’s cousin-in-law.) My response: “Send me invite to book time. My calendar is open. Bye.” I’m not doing your work for you.  Unless you follow your IM with a “so and so harassed me” or “I have a test tube and I’m not afraid to use it” then tonality gets you nowhere but the back of the line.

5. Ms. Slow Type. Oh my god, she makes me want to take my own life with a paperclip. She starts strong… clear question, right up front, easy to answer. But then she starts to write something else… I see the “…is typing a reply” indicator and so I wait. It goes away. Then it comes back. It goes away again. I start to click over to email or something else, but she starts to type again and this times manages to find the enter key. Her message pops up and here are only 6 words in the next message. Six freaking words. Took you 90 seconds to put that together sunshine? I sat here on pins and needles, indecisive about what to do next, for THAT!??! So I reply (I’m an idiot, this is clear) and she does it again. Now, I’m ready for it, and I instantly move to another task. But now that little icon is just sitting there flashing its little yellowness at me. I start to obsess about it. I’m not concentrating on my other work, so I go back to see what she wrote. Usually something universe altering like “oh well…”. That’s it. Well… what? Well… thanks? gotta go? see you later? GET ON WITH IT!  Later, at the awkward encounter at the salad bar, she usually says something like ” you just disappeared earlier, what happened?” I am forced into a little white stretch-of-the-truth like “sorry, someone came into my office.” She doesn’t need to know it was just the package delivery guy getting me to sign for the guy in the next cube who is on vacation, but any port in a storm.

6. The Stalker. This varmint can be either man or woman. They have no life except to sit at their computer watching my little button go from “offline” to something else. Within a pico-second (look it up, it’s smaller than a nano by a lot) of logging on, they are on me like Glen Close on Michael Douglas in an elevator. As I work in HR, there are situations where I need to respond immediately. However, when it really isn’t that important and you stalk me, well, then, expect nothing for at least 20 minutes.  I kind of enjoy watching you squirm. You might send me another little ping, or just start and stop typing a few times but I just let you sit there.  I admit this isn’t my best side, but I’m ok with it.

7. Ms. Wrap it up already. This is usually a friend I haven’t seen in a long time, or a colleague from another country where it is currently night-time. She pings me to check in, we trade some gossip and work chit-chat, and then the conversation slows waaaaay down. It is clearly time to wrap it up. And one of two things happen: a) she uses 10 messages just to say goodbye (well, it was great to talk to you; say hi to everyone for me; and enjoy your date night; you and Frank are so cute together; wish me luck on that presentation; take care; hugs; good night!; wait! it is still day there; enjoy the rest of your day; :-), :-P…).  Alternatively, b) happens:                                                                                 . Huh, I think to myself. Nothing. No typing. No good-bye. Just silence. This can be cool if numbers 1-6 are on-line. But this is usually someone I actually like. So I start to worry a little. Perhaps I send a pathetic little “you okay? I’m signing off now… take care” all the while wondering whether she’s been electrocuted, kidnapped or just had one of her moments and has no clue we were talking. Usually about 30 minutes later, if I am still on-line, she’ll jump on with a “had to finish dinner” or “the doorbell rang” but mostly it just ends and I’m left to wonder her fate until next time.

So IM’ers of the world… if you IM at work, please take notice of these tips. You will be far more successful in your information pursuits if you self identify here and work that 12 step program to recovery. I wish you all the best.


Enjoy your day!

See ya!


PS: I would be an arrogant ass if I didn’t admit to being each and every one of the people profiled above at some point in my IM’ing escapades. I just want to admit that before anyone from work points it out.

Leave a comment

1 Comment

  1. thewideopenwindow

     /  April 5, 2012

    Read this post yesterday, and then today, it happened. I came back to my cube this morning after being away for a bit. There it was waiting for me. “Good Morning”. That was it. In honor of your awesome blog there was only 1 thing I could do. Ignore it. I left her hanging for the rest of the day….bwahahahahhaha. Hey, she knew where to find me.


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