WORKPLACE

How to coexist with a coworker who's off sugar for January

Slow your entrance down to a gentle, tentative creep, for starters.
(Shutterstock / gpointstudio)

WAIT, wait, wait. Hold on. Before you burst triumphantly into the office, bounding with the irritating energy of a well-rested person returning from a Sandals Etobicoke resort, brimming with the optimism of a fresh calendar year, this just in: Marta's gone off sugar for January, and you'll need to adjust your behaviour accordingly.

Slow your entrance down to a gentle, tentative creep, for starters. Nope, slower. Eeeeven slower. We're talking slow-loris-floating-in-outer-space-while-stoned slow. Thaaaat's good. Now, listen: Marta's in a VERY fragile state, physically and emotionally. She is jumpy, teary, prone to sudden meltdowns, and on the verge of homicide at all times of the day. Here are some tips if you want to coexist with Marta, survive the month, and both emerge without a criminal record.

1. Do NOT at any time mention The Sugar Thing

There's no need to bring up Marta's hellish detox – she's desperately trying to keep herself distracted and besides, she'll make you painfully aware of her sacrifice about 22 times a day anyway. Prepare yourself for weak, plaintive cries coming from her cubicle, incessant, violent pen-clicking, and hourly articles forwarded to your inbox about the growing body of evidence to suggest a link between processed sugar and instant death.

2. Move at all times with the liquid stealth of a large jungle cat

Please: no sudden moves around Marta, who is extremely on-edge. Tai Chi your way into every boardroom. Coming around a corner? Marta could be on the other side; best to take that corner in a slow waltz. At all times, carry a boom-box that plays only Enya on a low volume.

3. Quietly seek out employment at another company

Marta's loud sighs, detailed accounts of her daily water intake, and raisin budget spreadsheet are really starting to get to you, aren't they? Of course they are. Devote an hour each workday, ideally when everyone else is at lunch, to perusing your options for other positions with other organizations. Marta's not going anywhere: she can barely hold her head up. So it's going to have to be you.

4. Do not look directly in her glassy, vacant eyes

This is an extremely aggressive and confrontational move. Someone who's newly off sugar will crumple like a Jenga tower if you pull this stunt. Look slightly to the left of Marta at all times as she lists the hundreds of "surprising" places sugar lurks in our diet. Salad dressing! Who knew??! Everyone knew, Marta. That's the exact reason it tastes good and we like to eat it.

5. Leave work early to go to a number of promising job interviews

All those lunch hours at your desk paid off! Tell the gang you have a doctor's appointment and spend the afternoon at multiple job interviews you secretly lined up. As a bonus, that's three hours you don't have to listen to Marta rattling off stats on government subsidies for Big Sugar and how when it comes right down to it, Big Agave's really no better.

6. Speak in low, soothing tones, always

We're talking Barry-White-has-fallen-into-a-vat-of-molasses-but-actually-kind-of-likes-it-in-there-and-has-decided-to-stay. Rid your speech of any harsh-sounding consonants. Gregorian-chant any requests you make of Marta. Whisper any and all presentations Marta's in the room for. Do NOT shout, exclaim, or declare anything. If there's a fire in your office, inform her via interpretive dance. If you smack your shin on a filing cabinet, mime your pain.

7. Successfully secure employment elsewhere

Thank God. Now it's just two more weeks of sampling Marta's homemade prune husks and smiling sympathetically every time she insists on calling them "cookies." "Delicious!" you'll exclaim, knowing all too well that the most delicious thing is the freedom that quietly awaits you on the other side.

8. Start referring to boiled kale as "nature's candy"

What a supportive coworker you are! Help Marta keep her morale up by firmly and constantly asserting that there is really no discernible difference between tasteless wet leaves and the sweet, gooey mouthheaven contained in a Mars bar. Reality is what we make it! You've got this!

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About the Author

Sophie Kohn

Writer/Producer

Sophie Kohn is writer and producer with CBC Comedy, a stand-up comedian in Toronto, and a graduate of Second City's Conservatory program.

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