Work Stuff

The Unabridged Co-Worker Translation Guide

Co-workers: they’re always saying stuff, am I right? Ladies, you know what I’m talking about.

Sometimes the things co-workers say are not the things they mean, and since I am the first person in history to ever notice this, here are some random entries from the Unabridged Co-Worker Translation Guide.

Entry #249: “I can’t figure out how to work my phone” = “I have not made any attempt to figure out how to work my phone”

Entry #106:  “I need help with this” = “Do this for me”

Entry #387: “Hey, quick question…” = “Hey, several dozen lengthy questions…”

Entry #426: “We need to give Cathy a call” = “You need to give Cathy a call”

Entry #325: “Are you going out for lunch today?” = “Get me lunch”

Entry #622: “I think we’re out of pens” = “I do not see a pen within a three foot radius of where I’m sitting”

Entry #88: “Did Todd get a new computer?” = “Why haven’t I also gotten a new computer?”

Entry #139: “Thanks for showing me how to do something in Microsoft Excel” = “You are now the company’s expert in Microsoft Excel”

Entry #320: “I’m expecting a fax” = “I’m expecting you to hover over the fax machine for the next seven hours”

Entry #212: “I don’t like the look of that applicant” = “That applicant is black”

Entry #381: “I copied you on an e-mail a while back…” = “By copying you on an e-mail, I actually expected you to completely handle it despite the e-mail being primarily addressed to someone other than you”

Entry #414: “How’s everything going with you? = “I am about to ignore whatever you say and then tell you how everything is going with me, which is terribly, and which will take an hour”

Entry #198: “The copier is broken” = “The copier is out of paper”

Entry #198A: “The copier is broken” = “The copier hasn’t telepathically divined what I want it to do”

Entry #198B: “The copier is broken” = “The copier is broken, and since you are standing there I’ll just assume you’re the copier repairman”

Entry #198C: “The copier is broken” = “I broke the copier”


  1. I love you.

  2. Lovely.

  3. Man, some of those are so true I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. Here’s one for the customer translation guide:
    “Maybe you can help me”= “I’m going to keep you on the phone for half an hour asking you a bunch of in-depth technical questions even though you just told me you’re an administrative assistant, then get pissed when you can’t help me.”

  4. Snoodlecheeza says:

    Hey Chris
    Is there any way of sending you private mail, instead of being all gushy and embarrassing in full view of the public?
    You are awesome, cynical and inspiring and I would really like to make sweet love to you. hehe

  5. I think I’ve had every single one of those… very insightful.

    “I’d like you to have a think about….” = “I have no idea how to solve….”
    “When you’ve got a minute, could you…” = “When you’ve got three hours, could you…”
    “This needs to be done today” = “You’re not going home on time”
    “Be more vigilant in future” = “I have now technically disciplined you for any future mistakes, and can refer back to this statement as proof that I warned you about anything I haven’t specifically warned you about.”

  6. nancy (sister) says:

    Yes, I love the “we” need to do this or that. Happens all the time!

  7. Great! Entry #88 is so true, and #212 made me burst out laughing, I had to type that because LOL has become so meaningless.

  8. Nonomu198 says:

    Say, Chris, you’re smoking again, aren’t you?

  9. thx1138 says:

    “The copier is broken”=”There is a paper jam, and I didn’t really look very hard to find where it is.”

  10. I love you, too.

  11. Happy birthday Chris. Have you been too busy to write an update lately?

  12. happy to know that i’m not alone in hating my job and everyone at it for being less intelligent than me. :)

  13. That is awesomely funny!


  14. “A team player.”=”Someone who’ll agree with/do whatever we want them to.” a.k.a. “Bend over and take it up the keister however or whenever we want them to.”

  15. Hi! just chiming in to say i love your site and was wondering if something has happened to you or the site has moved or something, thanks for writing!

  16. Yeah, where are you Chris?!?

  17. I hated it so much when one particular ex co-worker in the office (I no longer work in the office) said this almost all the time:

    Entry #106: “I need help with this” = “Do this for me”

    I felt like I was hired just to do his/her job. In my head, I was screaming, “Come on, I have work to do as well. I don’t have all the time to coach you on how to do your job. Piss off.”

  18. RichardLuzT says:

    Yeah… I’ve used some of that :)

  19. Hope all is well Chris! We are a selfish bunch and want more hilarious content!

  20. You know well the workings of the mind of the wimpy needy coworker. I assume you’ve met my sister-in-law Cheryl, then?

  21. Very funny and true!!

  22. Write more, thats all I have to say. Literally, it seems as though you relied on the video to make your point. You obviously know what youre talking about, why throw away your intelligence on just posting videos to your site when you could be giving us something informative to read?

  23. Joe Fernandez says:

    Entry #622: “I think we’re out of pens” = “I do not see a pen within a three foot radius of where I’m sitting”

    is actually- “give me a pen”

  24. These are too funny! I think the interpretations are pretty accurate!

  25. Hi

    I just wanted to say that I gleaned much enjoyment from your old blog and am glad you are back at it. If you hadn’t asked a question on Ask Metafilter today, I would have gone on with my life, unaware that you had started blogging again. So obviously, not a huge impact there. But still.

  26. There hasn’t been any new posts for almost 7 months now.
    Where are you Chris??

  27. Yeah, and firstpersonshouter is broken.

  28. Firstpersonshouter is down without advance notice, no new postings on any of his blogs since August, and his twitter disappeared.

    I think he may be dead.

  29. Maybe Chris is just going through some difficult times?
    One of my favourite persons on the internet, actually I think he is the only one.I sure miss his sense of humor.
    I hope everything is fine with you, Chris.
    Come back as soon as you can!)

  30. DeepSleeper says:

    I think he just threw a fit when no one liked the video version of whatever his game news site was, and quit.

  31. So, are we assuming he’s dead?

  32. hory shiet

    so is first person shouter working again? it seems to be

  33. One year later and still nothing. Sad.

  34. Concerned comic is gone.
    This is the saddest thing ever…

  35. It is sad, if it is true.
    Please don’t be true.

  36. Yeah, Chris just disappeared without any warning or anything.
    The 1fort twitter is still up, but untouched!/1fort
    Sad, he was one of my favourite online authors.

  37. Longtime Reader says:

    I check in every few months for any signs of life, but alas… I’m afraid this might be the end. Don’t be dead, Chris! We love your work!

  38. This is brilliant. I avoid the copier, the printer, the kettle at any costs. x

  39. Brian Lips says:

    Hey, man!

    I used to follow your site on a daily basis back in ’00 – ’02 or so. I once wrote you a lengthy email about crapping my pants during a lunch break. You posted my email in its entirety and I tasted fame. I was very stoked. I hope you’ve been doing well. Just so you know, I really enjoyed your writing, and I’m pleased to see that you are still more or less out there.

  40. @Liz S. I’m afraid Chris Livingston is a VERY common name

  41. Wait nevermind, He’s still alive, I hope.

  42. Thanks for posting those. It made my day. I haven’t been to work in a few months but those are so true.

  43. Seems as tho we’ll have to attempt to carry the flame ourselves until the fearless leader returns…some ideas to kick around:

    Its a Temp’s Life…
    Job security = hahahahahahahahaha
    Social Security = Social Insecurity
    401k = the number of pennies I’ve saved toward my retirement