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over-the-shoulder guy October 9, 2008

Posted by That Guy in Staff.

Over-the-Shoulder Guy. This person is going to seriously mess you up.

Do you know what a lolcat is? Well, if you have over-the-shoulder guy at your office, you probably often feel like putting a caption on photos taken with him. O HAI, GTFO, and STFU GBTW are preferable.

There are a few subsets of over-the-shoulder guy.

1. Old OTS Guy: This person will come up behind you and touch you in some way — a friendly hand on the shoulder or a brush of the arm as he leans forward to see what you’re doing. You could be on the phone, working on a complicated bit of math or programming, or whatever. It won’t matter. You’re stuck listening to him prattle on — usually very loudly — about how great he is, how awesome his work has been, and his latest amazing vacation. Old Guy will receive a staff entry of his own soon, but for now, just watch out for this over-the-shoulder guy as he comes up to interrupt you.

2. Stinky OTS Guy: The worst part about this person is that he usually used to fulfill a vital role at the company. Now he’s just that smelly old dude — usually fat, too — who everyone likes, but only from a distance. You’ll have to work with him a few times a year, though, and you’ll regret it; he’ll be ill, or he’ll smell terrible, or he’ll leave dandruff or smudges all over your work area. You keep hoping he’ll retire, but why would he? He’s got tenure.

3. Stealthy OTS Guy: Possibly everyone’s least-favorite over-the-shoulder person, this one sidles up behind you while you’re hard at work, engrossed in your spreadsheet or code or Photoshop file — especially if you’ve got your headphones on — and scares the bejesus out of you by simply asking how you’re doing. He may even legitimately need to bother you, but by the time you recover he’ll feel so self-conscious that he’ll forget what he needed.

4. Attractive OTS Guy: This is the one you want. There’s bound to be someone attractive at your office, and you’ll spend your days pining away for when he (or she) leans over your shoulder to look at something. You’ll get a good sniff of the scent of his neck and cologne; you’ll revel in his closeness. (If it’s a woman, you might even get away with an accidental stare at her chest or, better still, she might inadvertently bump you. You know exactly what I mean.) But all too soon, this guy will leave to do his next task, and you will have to be satisfied with the memory until he comes around again.

The one thing all OTS guys have in common is that, while they’re over your shoulder, they’re not doing work of their own. Work you will probably get stuck doing for them. Keep this in mind as you chat with them — even the attractive ones.

I had difficulty finding a picture for this post. If you can find me a CC-licensed picture that works, send it on.


1. the people in your network neighborhood « corporatespeak - March 2, 2009

[…] two away from mine, so in addition to being next to the train tracks (my old desk was right next to old OTS guy), I had to listen to every one of his favorite YouTube videos of the day multiple times — and […]

2. “that’s not the way we do things around here” « corporatespeak - April 3, 2009

[…] I’ve complained about guys like Jay before — he’s a combination of the over-the-shoulder guy and one of those when an e-mail isn’t enough people. Jay does fairly good work, but […]

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