Fox Hollow, FL – There is an old saying, “rats are a dime a dozen in graveyards and offices” and today given the sad state of Obama’s economy, it’s never been truer. If it’s not bad enough having to slave away in the modern 8-5 hell that is the rat race, with little-to-no chance of promotion or a raise, now you have to worry about your co-workers spying on you. So much for what was left of the American dream…
Now let’s be clear here. Rats are not snitches, and snitches are not rats. They are two different animals. Essentially a snitch is a slang term for an informant, which is someone that is relaying information to save lives or stop a crime from occurring. Typically informants are the good guys for the most part. However, a rat is a rat… they are bottom feeders that would sell their own parents to a circus freak-show for a promotion or raise… in essence, these are the Benedict Arnolds of the modern workplace.
In general, there are two main types of rats that you will encounter in the workplace. We could write an encyclopedia defining them. But we’re going to keep this simple by only focusing on the two primary types of office rats.
A rat is a coworker who inserts him- or herself into your personal and professional life on behalf of your employers or their own interests, for the purpose of trading information about you that will eventually lead to your termination, in exchange for promotions, raises, favors, or a combination thereof.
Now since I have Homeland Security training in counter-intelligence I have some knowledge of how informants work within the confines of national security and law enforcement. Below I took my knowledge and have adapted it to fit the purpose of this blog and the definition of an office rat vs. an informant. Here are the two main types of office rats you need to keep an eye out for:
#1 – The infiltrator/agent provocateur. This is a co-worker who has inserted themselves into a group of office dissenters for an active purpose, such as disrupting the group of employees from within, or worse, talking formerly innocent coworkers into doing stuff so this rat can get them fired. Essentially this type of rat will go out of their way to fabricate something to gain favor with their bosses. A good example of doing something that can get them fired would be calling in sick, drinking alcoholic drinks either at work or lunch, and making sexist/racist jokes in the office.
#2 – The informer/informant. This rat is the hardest to weed out given their insider status as a legitimate member of a group or social circle of employees. This rat continues to be active in dissent with other co-workers while giving information to your boss to get you in trouble or fired. In short your boss or your employer will allow them to be vocal about how much the office sucks, and do a few bad things to gain the trust of other co-workers in order to get specific targeted co-workers fired. While this person isn’t necessarily a professional agent provocateur, this rat may nevertheless try to talk members of the group into committing workplace violations so the rat can exchange this information for more credibility with your employer or rewards in the form of extra time off, a raise, stipend, or title change.
These aren’t the only types of rats. For example, there’s also what we’ll call the “accidental rat” — though idiot rat might be more appropriate. This is the person who simply can’t keep their mouth shut about things. Essentially this will be your office gossiper or loud-mouth junior staffer who yells out whenever you make a mistake for the entire office to hear, the person who goes out of their way to let your boss know if you were late arriving at the office in the morning, the jack-ass who CC’s everyone under the sun whenever you make an error, or perhaps the jerk who tattles if you trying sneaking out of the office a few minutes early.
So now that you have a loose understanding of what a rat is, and the types of rats let’s delve into my top five list for evading these dipshits and keeping your job.
#1 – Loose Lips Sink Ships: Don’t brag to your co-workers about how you played hooky from work, how unhappy you are, how you arrived late, how you are taking an online college course from your cubical when nobody is watching, how you have an interview, personal top secret intel, or any other shortcuts you use to get through the work day as fast as possible and do the absolute bare minimum amount of work to not get fired. As Stanley always said in the TV show “The Office”… “This is a run the clock out situation”, and if you are an 8-5 grunt, then every single day is a run the clock out situation, where you strive to do the least amount of work and remain employed. It’s all about those benjamins.
The “loose lips” phrase was coined during WW2 to keep allied civilians from gossiping about the location of allied ships, and troops out of fear of an axis attack. While we are not engaged in actual warfare, make no mistake about the fact that your livelihood is at risk daily and whether you want to recognize it or not a small percentage of your co-workers are out to sink your ship. So remain vigilant and Trust No One!
#2 – Embrace the Suck: If you are an underpaid, overworked, and an otherwise expendable pawn at your place of employment you need to stop lying to yourself and embrace the suck that is your existence five days out of the week. Grunts seem to be lured into the delusion of talking up their shitty jobs to stave off any negativity so they can remain happy and positive. At my past place of employment the secretary talked the boss into giving her the title of “Director of Front Office Operations” to make herself feel better… this is like calling the janitor a “Sanitation Specialist”. Don’t be delusional and do stupid shit like this, once you stop lying to yourself that you are somehow invaluable and irreplaceable, or that you do something more than just remedial, run of the mill “finger jockey” drudgery then the sooner you will be able to get out of this rut and make something out of yourself.
I’ve seen this play out time and time again, an employee fails to embrace the suck, and gets crushed when the boss drops the hammer down on them over some stupid little mistake, cuts back on their hours or salary due to fictional “budget concerns”. As the suck engulfs them the fake imaginary “Cloud Coo-Coo Land” like dream world these employees have invented to cope with the suck, is destroyed. What you need to do is embrace the suck and the conflict that comes with it and takes your office for what it is… a shit sandwich at best, and a shit taco at worst.
It’s well known, within observational psychology that those that embrace the suck never settle and are seldom trapped in meaningless and pointless existences. It’s called Conflict Theory and managing conflict is what separates the Donald’s Trumps from the Taco Bell employees of the world. If you don’t know what conflict theory is, then I suggest that you google it… or take a basic undergrad sociology college freshman course.
#3 – Build a Better Rat Trap: The first step towards dealing with rats is to identify them, and it’s easier than you think. You don’t need an advanced degree in counter intelligence to catch a bottom feeder… what you need is a better rat trap.
The best way to catch a rat is to be a bit paranoid, trust no one, and assume that everyone is out to get you. I know it sounds crazy but hear me out. Once you label everyone a threat, the next thing you need to do is slowly cross co-workers off that list of suspects that have proven to you that they aren’t a rat or a threat. This is detective work 101… the process of elimination. Once you have eliminated all of the non-rats, then you are left with the actual rats.
In order to determine who is a rat, and who isn’t, what you need to do is feed your suspected rats different pieces of false information and see how long it takes for it to get back to you, from your boss, your buddies, or the office gossiper. It’s like fishing for ass-holes. Essentially, feed these possible rats tasty tid-bits of false intel that can’t be proven, won’t get you in trouble, and will clearly expose them. Once identified, it’s up to you how you deal with these pests going forward. Personally, I would avoid them entirely vs. trying to get them fired. I’ll explain why I do this later.
#4 – Be On You’re “A” Game: Rats feed off of your errors, laziness, every second that you are late getting into the office, and mistakes. This is a fact. Given this fact, logic then dictates that the best way to defeat office rats would, of course, be to step up your game. As a rule of thumb, never give your enemies enough rope to hang yourself. Now stepping up your production at a job you hate might be harder than it sounds and believe me, I understand your pain but it’s essential to do this or you will find yourself unemployed long before you can manage to secure new employment and jump ship.
emember, to never quit without having another job lined up, no matter how bad it is.
Currently, I’m in a situation where I hate my current assignment and have been trying to get out for some time now. So I get it and feel your pain, but slacking or quitting isn’t going to help anything get better, in the end, your slacking is only going to make it worse thanks in no small part to the rats, and quitting will put you in the poor house faster than you can say denied unemployment compensation. Now you don’t have to go overboard, but as a good rule of thumb, you should shoot for a daily 50% work production quota. If you have an office job like me, use the other 50% of your work day to search for another job, and apply for these jobs online while you’re at it. Again, work just hard enough to not get fired, and save yourself some sanity along the way.
#5 – Don’t Sink to the Level of a Rat: While it might be tempting to do so, it will almost always backfire and blow-up in your face. Like I said before, it’s better to steer clear of these bottom feeders then to attempt to engage them in their field of expertise. A co-worker of mine a few jobs back attempted to silence a rat, and it didn’t just blow up in his face, it went nuclear because he failed to understand that office rats don’t exist without support from senior management. My former co-worker from a previous job tried going to his boss about a rather pesky rat that was telling on him whenever he would come back late from break. Needless to say, his boss wasn’t too keen that my buddy had figured out he was being watched. You see this rat was an actual office spy that this boss was using to keep dibs on everyone in the office. After a heated and lengthy period my buddy no longer works for this employer, and last I heard this super-rat is not only still employed with this employer, but this rat is the new boss. As it turns out when you play with fire you get burned, and my old boss danced with the devil a bit too much. Apparently shortly after I left the super-rat, ratted out my former boss to the regional Director who fired my old boss and gave his job to the rat.
When the going gets tough, the tough gets going… only dumbasses bury their heads in the sand and attempt to stick it out. The only thing you can do to defeat a rat is to find a better job with more pay and freedom. This plays into the old adage of revenge which states… “The best revenge is to living well”, and this holds true with rats in that the best revenge against a rat is to live better than them because in the end these dirt bags have ZERO talent of their own, and can only succeed by stabbing others in the back.
So live well my friends.
Article by: Kevin Fett firstname.lastname@example.org
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Kevin Fett... The angry, bible clinging, gun toting, Harley riding, hockey playing, bacon eating, bearded blogger that Obama warned you about!