Sunday, November 06, 2005

Workplace Etiquette

My co-workers and I recently experienced a rather disturbing event. The client the four of us are working for has reserved a few cubicles for us in a typical cube farm. This means that there are numerous other people who work in the same area as us. Since our client is actually in a different city, the people who work around us are not involved in the same project as us, and we therefore don’t know any of them. We’ve said hello a few times, but that’s about it.
The other day, a guy who works directly next to us was having some serious health problems. At first he was coughing excessively. He apologized to the people he was on a conference call with, and explained that he was having an asthma attack. At this point I’m thinking to myself “Why doesn’t this guy go home?” I had asthma a few times as a kid, and I remember that it was no fun. I guess he really needed to stay on that conference call. I let it go and continued to try and figure out what was wrong with our web server. The coughing got worse and worse however, and I was starting to be concerned that this guy wasn’t going to be alright. Then the guy proceeds to grab a plastic bag, and vomit into it, while still sitting at his desk. I don’t ever remember vomiting being part of an asthma attack. After he’s done vomiting into this plastic bag, he un-mutes his phone and continues on with his phone call. The guys on my team and I are all quite disgusted by this, but what can you do? I was hoping the guy would now tell the people on the phone that he’s ill, and that he’s leaving. Nope. He continued to puke into his plastic bag for another hour or so. Our team could no longer take it. I had guys going for walks / coffee / anything to get them out of the area. Finally I asked one of the guys to go and scout out a few empty desks in another area of the office so that we could move the team there. Thanks MS for remote desktop.
The purpose of this post is for all of us to remember that there are limits to ‘playing hurt’. No one should have to put up with some guy puking his guts out in the next cubicle.

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