Genus homosapien – workplace edition

David Attenborough is one the most interesting television presenters alive. Travelling the length and breadth of the globe, examining the habitat of all manner of flora and fauna – from the Amazon rainforest to the Sahara desert to the North Pole. He explores the challenges and environments endured by plant and animal, and explains these in an engaging, entertaining and informative manner.


There is a species, however, that has escaped the gimlet analysis of this pre-eminent naturalist. Genus homo sapien office worker – that form of sentient being that inhabits the workplace environment.

For the purpose of this post I recommend that while you read it, you imagine Davy-boy speaking the words in his mellow, soothing voice.

Some weeks ago I described a variant of this wildlife creature who is known as Beryl – she is the borderline hysterical, just one dirty look away from a nervous breakdown.

Today we are going to talk about Clint (not his real name). This is the angry, bitter, balding middle-aged man, dissatisfied with the course his life and career have taken. I hasten to add that I am not talking about myself as I am not angry or bitter, and my male pattern baldness is not remarkable.

He is the man with the narrow, beady eyes, and the rosacea hued face. His bulbous nose is a cornucopia of broken veins, which show a fondness for daily alcohol consumption –  confirmed by the plenitude of belly sagging over the too-tight belt. He wears blue jeans – sometimes with a crease –  up to his bellybutton, to show that he is still a rebel at heart.

He is the type of person that when there is a department or company wide meeting,  at the point towards the end of proceedings when everyone is ready to fall asleep the speaker will ask ‘Are there any questions?’ as a prelude to wrapping up.

At this point I am usually chomping at the bit to get back to my desk.

But is that possible? Oh no. Because Clint will have some clever question. It’s irrelevant what the discussion has been about – he will invariably pipe up with something. Anything. These questions do not seem to be asked out of genuine curiosity – they tend to be trick questions, designed to confuse the speaker or reveal a lack of preparation on their part. Should they be able to answer with confidence, Clint will quickly dart in with another sly question, probing to see can he trip the speaker up. If the speaker says ‘I have already explained that’ Clint will dart a mean little glance in their direction.

Time and time and time again he is there, ready with his spiteful curiosity. If asked to explain his interest in a subject that has absolutely no relevance to his daily job, his face will assume the look of innocence (or as innocent as one can look with such narrow puffy eyes) and he will reply that he is very interested in the dynamics of other departments and teams. At this point he may throw in a catty remark that it’s a pity other people – not naming names – don’t follow his example.

He is the person you do not want to hand over your work to, when you go on holidays. When you return any mistakes you have made will have been forwarded to your boss, while the regular routine work will have been left to pile up in your inbox.

Such creatures are native to all office environments, having been identified in banking, insurance, pharmaceutical, accounting, and consumer packaged goods industries.

Treat with caution.



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