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Coworkers being rude/insulting me.Uncomfortable.

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Old 12-11-2008, 04:13 PM   #1
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Coworkers being rude/insulting me.Uncomfortable.

Well, I have an issue, that has been ongoing. It is really bothering me, and I don’t know what to do. It involves relationships with coworkers, and is having a negative effect on me.

See, I work as a temp, although it has been nearly 2 years now, at the same place. I eat my lunch at my desk, as do 95% of people here. I like to cook hot meals, otherwise I get too hungry and feel sick. There are times when I cook something “weird” at least to the people I work with who do not get out much, like curry, but then I wait until they have left for the day to cook it, because I know it smells strong. I am very mindful of that. I used to cook “normal” things, such as pasta or rice dishes (the frozen kind), and they would still hover over me, looking at my food, and making (mostly) rude comments about it. Like “what is that” and stuff. One girl says how disgusting my cold salad was because it had spinach leaves in it, and went on and on. She also made comments about how meats should never have fruit on it, like sauces and such. These same people make comments on everything that has a smell, not just mine, but mostly mine. I will add that I rarely ever notice what they are talking about.

Well, I got so self-concious of the remarks, that I now wait until they go home, even to cook so-called normal foods, which is around 3, in order to eat unbothered. I don’t think this is fair. I am starting to get withdrawn about eating here, but if I don’t, I will feel sick, and cannot afford to go out to eat.

Well, today took the cake. I waited until 4 to eat, and there was no one in my area, only a couple people in the next row. I had cooked chicken in just seasoned salt, and potatoes with salt, as this would not offend. I started to eat, and two people in that row came to me while I was eating, and said “Oh, it is you. Your food smells like cat food.” First of all, it did not. Second, how rude is that?! To purposefully track someone down to insult them?! Who does that? So, I said “Oh shut up! (not the best response) You are all obsessed with smells!” And they walked away and made another remark so I could hear, about how it was the first time someone commented on my food (a lie), and how defensive I am. Well, yeah, wouldn't you be.

I feel like they think they can say whatever they want because I am a “lowly” temp, and they think they are really funny (aren't). I feel like a kid who is being bullied! I don’t think I should have to bring PPJ to work every day, just so they will be quiet! They are so rude, and they keep doing it! I don’t know what to do, what if they keep on doing it?

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Old 12-11-2008, 04:37 PM   #2
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Re: Coworkers being rude/insulting me.Uncomfortable.

Isn't it some kind of federal law that any employer must give a 15 minute break for every four hours of work and at least a half hour lunch for every 6-8 hours of work? It's very ridiculous tha all these people carry on and on about food smells when no one uses a break room or kitchen to eat. Seems to me if it were thab huge an irritant and inconvenience they would pass some kind of policy that breaks and meals must be taken in the kitchen or break room.

Yes, they are being rude and snotty, but if that's how they choose to be, that is how they are going to be and there really isn't anything you can do to stop it. Perhaps these people are just immature snots who are stuck in junior high and just need a reason to pick on you. I don't recommend waiting till 4pm, to eat lunch, it's not good for your system. Maybe eat in the break room or kitchen if they have one a few times a week. You're not the only one who cooks food, are you? If not, cook it around the time everyone else does. eating so far away from the normal lunch hour might be having the opposite effect you wanted, and may be calling even more attention to your food. But if you're not breaking any company policies, and if you're not cooking anything strongly offensive like fish or something, then screw 'em. You could say something like,

them: eewwww... your food smells like cat food!
you: (with a big smile)Mm...nope, just chicken!

Let them know you are not cooking anything anyone else doesn't cook and let them know their taunts don't bother you. It's their problem. Hopefully, soon they will get tired of just making another problem for themselves and will let it be. Good luck.

Old 12-12-2008, 02:39 AM   #3
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Re: Coworkers being rude/insulting me.Uncomfortable.

this is called workplace bullying. cant you go to your employer and complain about them? why not go to the workplace ombudsmen?

Old 12-12-2008, 08:44 AM   #4
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Re: Coworkers being rude/insulting me.Uncomfortable.

I bring all those "weird" foods to my job to. We also do not have a break room or kitchen, the microwave is in the front office. And no one even thinks anything to say something.. It is very ignorant and closed minded of people to keep making comments of your food, or other peoples food. The next time someone makes a comment to you about your food just tell them this is the 100th time someone has said something about your food and you're fed up with it. Tell them to mind their own business or stop being so ignorant and think outside of the PBJ sandwich box. I wouldn't tolerate it, nor would I wait for people to go home to heat up my food. I would eat it when I want, and if they didn't like it then what I told you to say would be coming out of my mouth. OR I would start making comments about how bland their food looks!!!

Last edited by Ms_ENV27; 12-12-2008 at 08:44 AM.

Old 12-12-2008, 08:46 AM   #5
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Re: Coworkers being rude/insulting me.Uncomfortable.

If you respond with embarassment or shame, these rude people will continue. I like the suggestion above. If they comment about a smell I'd just say "you're right, don't you love it?" or something like that.

My manager has the microwave in his office and he'll sometimes complain about what I heat up. I simply tell him to get ready for a repeat performance tomorrow. Use a sense of humor. When the bullies don't get the reaction they want they usually stop.

Old 12-12-2008, 12:16 PM   #6
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Re: Coworkers being rude/insulting me.Uncomfortable.

I would come up with some sarcastic remark and throw it right back at them, honestly. I've been a temp, it's no fun. People treat you like a pariah anyway. But this food smell thing is just juvenile for them to get all bent out of shape about it.

Here are some good comments you can throw back at them:
-Gee, I hadn't noticed cause I'm usually trying to avoid your BO stench in the hall
-Really? Here's a quarter, I think you should invest in some Altoids. Trust me!
-It's a shame you're so hung up on such a trivial problem when it's clear that you have far bigger problems on your own (and roll your eyes)
-Yeah, so I've heard (and roll your eyes)
-Just look at the person (or people) and laugh hysterically and say, "Hahaha, that's rich! Thanks for the laugh!"
-I know you're just jealous that I know how to cook and your idea of gourmet is the dollar menu at McDonald's
-It's really funny to me that you're so immature to choose such a stupid thing to point out to someone
-Shut up or else it will end up on your head

Ok, I think that's all I've got....Good luck!

And if all else fails, call your temp agency and ask them to place you somewhere else. I've had to leave an assignment before because quite literally the manager of the department was a dragon lady who made everyone, including the guys, cry. She was evil. I even asked her once why she was screaming at me and she yelled about how dare I question her. Talk about a psycho! So, I got reassigned and that was the end of her reign of terror. You should look for a temp to perm situation anyway, at least then you'd get some better benefits and you'd be a permanent employee.

Old 12-12-2008, 01:37 PM   #7
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Re: Coworkers being rude/insulting me.Uncomfortable.

Well, so far, it seems, all the advice given by the other posters has been good and you might want to put it into effect. Yet - I may be wrong - the real problem appears to be elsewhere. I am under the impression that you have insulated yourself in this workplace, that is, you hardly interact with your coworkers. You are the introverted one. I agree they are being rude and inadequate. Indeed most people who do such things live in glass houses themselves and also have many issues with self-esteem. No, nothing justifies what they are doing to you, but what if their picking on you is the very way they have found to reach you, to elicit a response, to make you speak up? Of course there are much more clever ways of approaching a person, but some people just aren't aware of them. I am not telling you to be popular with everyone, to smile at everyone, but maybe you could begin a relationship with one or two of them, the best ones you can spot (they can't be all jerks!), so they are allowed to see that you are not a snob. When you will have a couple of pals in the workplace and their support, when you will have made a few alliances, you will feel less isolated, more self-confident and less self-conscious, no matter what they say, if ever they go on saying those things. My additional advice then is come out of your cave to play. My two cents.

Old 12-13-2008, 09:10 AM   #8
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Re: Coworkers being rude/insulting me.Uncomfortable.

I've got to go with Pendulum. Dishing out sarcastic remarks back to the coworkers works like a charm, assuming everyone is on an even playing field. But there is something much deeper than this if the entire office picks on you this way, and your fix to this situation is to simply eat later and later.

When friends and loved ones rib me about anything, it's very easy to dish it right back. But you need to come out of your cave a bit and make friends (or at least have a courteous professional relationship) with a few of the coworkers to even get to that point.

Old 12-13-2008, 09:57 AM   #9
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Re: Coworkers being rude/insulting me.Uncomfortable.

I disagree about making friends with them. Why would you want to be friends with people who make nasty comments toward you? I wouldn't. For me, I don't go to work to make friends. Although I'm "friendly" with people at work, I don't consider any of them to be friends, and we don't hang out outside of work. I'm not there to make friends, I'm there to work and do a good job. And I'm friendly enough to where people don't think I'm a snob but they also don't get to see me outside of work because my personal life is my business and not theirs.

In thinking about your situation, I really think I'd dish it out right back to them. If all you ever do is look defeated and be sad about their comments, they're going to keep doing it because they're a bunch of bullies who never grew up. And in my opinion, the best way to deal with that type of person is to give them attitude right back. Don't let them treat you that way. Come up with a smart remark of your own and let them know you're no wallflower. That's what I think.

And if all else fails, then maybe you might want to think about getting placed at a different company. Being that you're a temp, you have that flexibility.

Old 12-13-2008, 11:12 AM   #10
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Re: Coworkers being rude/insulting me.Uncomfortable.

are you different from them in some way (for instance, i'm the only one in my office that doesn't think getting drunk is fun and my interests/hobbies differ greatly from everyone else's, etc)? (ie. do you "fit in" otherwise) are there any workplace "cliques"? it's weird that they comment on YOUR food if everyone else is also eating at their desk and you say that you don't bring anything "weird". btw, what is "weird" when it comes to food?

Old 12-15-2008, 12:33 PM   #11
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Re: Coworkers being rude/insulting me.Uncomfortable.

First of all, I need to dispel the assumption here that I am an introvert, in a cave, etc, LOL. I am a social person, and have had many conversations with the 2 culprits, normally light-hearted, and I get along with them. I have made many friends here, and am quite happy otherwise (except for the food issue).

I am in the Land of Hotdish and Ketchup, which means that people who live here typically eat bland, boring diets and are often close-minded about trying new foods. Not all, but many. So anything that does not smell like a grilled cheese or something like that, is "weird."

As to whether there is something different about me, I am def not a cliquey person, and my friends are all quite unlike the others. I don't gossip much, and try not to say disparaging things to coworkers about other coworkers. I get along well with the director. One thing, these 2 individuals got in trouble last week for bragging about not having any work to do...

Now, after I have cooled off a bit, I think that perhaps they thought it would be funny to say that to me? Like, let's go bug Poopsie, she'll have a good laugh? It didn't work.

I think I will say that next time "If you say that again, you will be wearing it. As a hat."

Last edited by Poopsie; 12-15-2008 at 12:51 PM.

Old 12-15-2008, 01:38 PM   #12
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Re: Coworkers being rude/insulting me.Uncomfortable.

Humor usually works.

Like I said, my co-worker sometimes complains that I smell up the office with my lunch. I either tell him to wait till he smells what I'm bringing tomorrow (suggesting sardines, tuna, liver, cabbage) or I ask him if he wants a big bite of my lunch. We both laugh and life goes on.

You seem to have cheered up. Good for you.

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