Ask a Dilettante – Hi Ho, Hi Ho, It’s Off to Work We Go

My coworker and I share a cubicle. She listens to her iPod all day, and I’m sick of it. I’ll ask her a question or if she’ll pass the stapler or something and she doesn’t answer because she can’t hear me. What can I do about this?

Dilettante has noticed the unwelcome trend of people wearing headphones at work, and she agrees with you that it’s completely inappropriate. The accuracy of one’s spreadsheet is inversely related to how loudly one is listening to Rapper’s Delight. Still, it’s a trend that isn’t going anywhere. For the sake of keeping it all even, may I suggest that you pretend you can’t hear your coworker? For instance, she pulls out one of her earbuds to ask you to cover her while she goes to lunch. You don’t respond. She pulls out the other earbud and repeats the request, this time a bit louder. Still no response from you. Finally, in a fit of frustration, she gets up from her desk to stand in front of you and repeat the question a third time.

At this point, reach into your pocket as if you are turning something off, then apologize, saying you didn’t hear her because you were listening to music. She’ll be confused momentarily since she doesn’t see anything in your ears. Then she’ll think about how quickly technology advances and will make a point to ask her boyfriend for a set of the new, invisible earphones. Maybe this little charade will take some of the sting out of being the only person in the office who has to listen to the never-ending clickity-clack of fingers on keyboards and the ticking of the clock as time moves ever slower toward five o’clock. Maybe.

I hate my job. Can you give me any tips on how to call in sick in a new way? I’ve already called in with: a throat fungus, pica, athlete’s foot, severe incompetence and alien hand syndrome. I think my boss might be starting to realize something’s afoot. I mean, other than my athlete’s foot.

Well, if getting a new job isn’t part of your plan, check out this service. With an annual fee of $75 and services running from $10 to $50 and up, depending upon “complexity,” the Alibi Network can provide you with a get-out-of-work-free card. But that’s not all.

Did you tell the wife you’re on a hunting trip with the guys in Montana when you’re really on a romantic getaway with your boyfriend in Milan? Do you have the need for “discreet” shopping services? Maybe you met someone in a trendy bar last night and, trying to impress, you lied about owning your own business. Or you simply want to avoid going to your tea-totaler cousin’s bridal shower. The Alibi Network has you covered.

They will email or call you at the appropriate time to confirm travel reservations that don’t exist. They’ll provide you with a phone number you can give the skanks at the bar, and when said skanks call, the alibi people will answer with the name of your fictitious business and take a message for you. If you’ve lied about being at a seminar for the past week, they’ll give you take-home materials that prove you were there, even including a certificate of completion. Your certificate for being a big, fat liar! Frame it and put it over the sofa! Make the kids proud!

My boss keeps stopping by my desk to give me a shoulder rub. I think he looks down my shirt while he’s doing it. Should I tell someone?

It depends. Is your boss hot?

[This column originally appeared in its entirety on Houstonist.]