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chewing the fat

I have a coworker with whom I share an office, and she has this horrible habit of talking while her mouth is full. She’ll have a snack and answer the phone with her mouth full. She’ll try to carry on a conversation with me while she’s eating. It’s terribly offensive to me and I am quite certain it’s offensive to the people on the other end of the phone line. A person can totally tell! Any suggestions on how to handle this? I mean she is an adult woman after all, so who am I to offer up an etiquitte lesson...

Eating Me Up

Strictly Classified says: I think you should take her out to lunch and give her your best “Mr. Peepers” imitation. You might not be Chris Kattan, but hopefully she will get the point.

The Omniscient One says: It’s clearly a lifelong habit and she is never going to break it. Even if you think of some way to make her not talk with a mouthful of food, it will only be a matter of time before she slips back to what’s “normal” for her. You might try introducing some snacks that aren’t so noisy, like Jello.

Smart Money says: I’ve been known to chew gum like a French whore on occasion, which is why I rarely chew gum. I have no problem with someone saying, “Hey, stop chewing your gum like a French whore!” If one is doing something disgusting, one should be corrected…or at least notified. The way I see it, you’ve got three options as follows: 1) tell your co-worker the following, “Oi! You chew like a bleeding cow. WTF is wrong with you? Every time I look at you, I’ve got to swallow bile. You are that disgusting. Die, pig, die. (you can word this differently—we wouldn’t at my office, but we’re a bit tougher than most); 2) clip this column and stick it on your co-worker’s monitor; or 3) get a fake email and write in complaining about him/her spewing crumbs over the phone. Or you can have the co-worker’s jaw broken. That could be your best bet. Good luck!

The Gay Perspective: Here’s an etiquette lesson for you: It would be rude to correct her. You are neither her supervisor, nor her mother; it is not your role to correct her behavior. Her smacking on the phone has no real direct impact on you, and mentioning it will only go badly, as she will feel insulted. You may, of course, sit back and enjoy the smug satisfaction of knowing you are not such a slob. I also warn you against alerting the boss or her mother to the issue, for if they choose to take a stab at correction, it will certainly begin with the phrase, “Your friend and co-worker has been observing your disgusting behavior.” It is best to stay out of it. Similarly, do not comment on the synthetic fabrics she wears, the makeup too garish for daytime, or her high sugar / high fat diet. Just rise above it.

The Practical Cogitator says: It’s not your place to say anything. It was the job of her mother and father. I imagine your co-worker thinks eating at the desk implies extra effort or dedication to the company. Perhaps the eating while talking to others, co-workers and clients, is a way of showing how busy and effective they are at their job. When in fact, talking with a full mouth is offensive, disgusting and disrespectful to others not to mention unsightly and sounds terrible. This unintelligible banter cannot be effective over the phone. I suggest you wait until your co-worker pulls out the brown bag and then, at that time, take your own lunch break. Try to take short breaks while your co-worker snacks. In short, get out of there while the see-food, hear-food noshing is occurring. And thank your lucky stars they aren’t sitting next to you smacking gum like a cow all day.

The Sales Guy says: How about this: “Hey! You’re talking with your mouth full! It’s not your best look.

The Straight Skinny: That’s funny, because I have a coworker who’s constantly eyeballing me while I eat my lunch. She’s forever poking her head around her monitor and wrinkling her nose at my cheese and yellow mustard sandwiches. One day, I got so tired of her spying on my meals that I started eating with my gob wide open, smacking away loudly, dribbling mustard down my chin and spewing Wonderbread in all directions.

You know what? She kept watching. The more disgustingly I ate, the more often I’d catch her staring. I’ve even pretended to take orders on the phone while spitting food all over my computer monitor, but nothing I do will dissuade this woman from watching, always watching watching watching. What’s wrong with her? Why won’t Ms. Butt-in-ski mind her own frigging business? Tomorrow I think I’m going to eat standing up right next to her desk and spit food all over her hair.

So, where do you work, anyway?

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