It is Labor Day. Before Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Labor Day was the only black holiday. I’m pretty sure it originated as the day when slaves commemorated the end of cookout season. I think that’s right. Or maybe it symbolized the beginning of HBCU homecoming season. Perhaps it was meant to be a day off to celebrate how you never get a day off. I haven’t looked it up, but I heard all of this at a barbershop, so I could be wrong. Then again, that’s the same barbershop where I heard someone say that white people don’t use washcloths, and that turned out to be true. Wait right here, I’ll double-check that.
OK, I just looked it up, and History says: “Labor Day pays tribute to the contributions and achievements of American workers. It was created by the labor movement in the late 19th century and became a federal holiday in 1894.”
Therefore, in honor of Labor Day, we thought we’d list some of the worst people you have to work with all year. Everyone has held a job with one or more of the people on this list. We simply ranked them for you.
10. The Dry Snitch
There is a person at every workplace who will rat on his or her co-workers without thinking about it for a second, but that kind of snitch is to be expected. I’m talking about the dry snitcher—the person who drops a dime on you and acts like it was an honest mistake. Like that time you called in because your aunt was in a terrible car accident and you had to go check on her, and your co-worker Julie commented to your supervisor, “Humph. That’s funny; she posted pictures of herself on Instagram at the club taking shots at 2:49 a.m. this morning! Anyway ... I hope her aunt’s OK!”
I know you wanna kick Julie’s ass, but remember, snitches have been ruining workplaces since Judas dry-snitched on Jesus for $30. I mean, what was he going to buy with 30 pieces of silver? It was literally the year zero. Was he going to the mall to get the new Air Pontius Pilate sandals? If they tattled on Jesus, what do you expect they’ll do to you?
Famous dry snitches: The two slaves who revealed the plans for Gabriel Prosser’s slave revolt to save their masters; Dee from What’s Happening; the “anonymous sources” in the news every day from inside the Trump White House.
9. The Weirdo
I’m not talking about people who are socially awkward or outside the mainstream because I’m that person. I’m referring to the one person in every office, factory and retail business who gives you the heebie-jeebies.
The dark-haired, white girl named Cynthia in the human resources department who is a Wiccan, wears black lipstick and has 13 black cat figurines on her desk. The stock boy who talks about dragons a little too much and has a funny mustache. They always have a funny mustache. And a sword.
These people are the answers to one of the most asked questions in the universe: “Whatever happened to that emo Goth guy who used to sit behind me in social studies and hum Marilyn Manson songs?” Now you know. All the white guys who wore trench coats and didn’t become school shooters eventually got a job working in the IT department at your job. Now they’re the office weirdos.
Have you ever watched the HBO show Real Sex about the different kinds of sturdily built white people who have leather dominatrix dungeon parties on the weekend, or like having sex with Shetland ponies? Have you ever seen the show Hoarders or My Strange Addiction? Well, those people have jobs and co-workers, one of whom might be you.
Famous weirdos: Bronies (Warning: Please don’t Google this. You might never get it out of your head); Jim Norton; every white guy with a sword.
8. The Hollerer
There is always one co-worker who constantly tries to holler at you even though you rebuff him every time. It usually doesn’t rise to the level of sexual harassment but falls just below it. It’s as if hollerers took the company’s code of conduct and studied it so they will know exactly what to do.
They compliment you on things that aren’t necessarily sexual, just creepy. Like the guy who notices every time you change your toenail polish. Sigh. Now you gotta wear closed-toe shoes because this weird motherfucker has a foot fetish. Great.
Famous hollerers: Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas; Martin Lawrence; Bill Cosby; every guy at Fox News.
7. The Fuck-Up
We all work with people who have no idea what they are doing. They have a single-digit IQ and are not mentally or emotionally capable of doing the job. I once worked with a secretary in a public relations office who couldn’t type or spell. Every memo or correspondence from her was like one of those word jumbles from the comic strip section of the newspaper where you have to rearrange the letters to spell the sentence. To be fair, English was her second language (she didn’t have a first).
Even though they have usually worked at your place of employment longer than you have, you often wonder how they got their job. Did they win a raffle? Did they just start showing up and somebody put them on the payroll? The answer is always the same:
Famous fuck-ups: Jared Kushner; Sean Spicer; the guy who created the Kendall Jenner Pepsi commercial.
6. The Kinda-Racist
Every black person knows someone who isn’t exactly a neo-Nazi white supremacist but who is a little bit prejudiced. It’s like someone dropped a bouillon cube of hate in their bathwater and left them permanently hate-flavored. Even worse, you can’t punch them in the mouth because even you’re not sure if they are racist or just dumb.
The racist-adjacent co-worker doesn’t hate black people; he’s just a backward-thinking (usually well-meaning) nincompoop. Even worse, these people usually don’t know it. Jimmy has no idea why you glared at him all day when he wore his T-shirt displaying a Confederate flag on casual Friday. Patricia is going to pull you aside every day this December to ask you if it’s Kwanzaa yet. Then, at the company Christmas party, she is going to walk up to you and whisper, “Hey, I know your people don’t traditionally drink eggnog, so I bought you a bottle of Hennessy. Or, as they call it on your side of town—Henn Dog!”
You don’t say it, but you’re damn sure thinking it as you sip on your free Henny.
Famous kinda-racists: Skip Bayless; Conor McGregor; Bill Maher; the entire Republican Party.
5. The Work Zealot
Some people work so goddamn hard, I get tired just looking at them. The only thing worse than someone who doesn’t give a fuck about his job is someone who gives too many fucks. Have you ever had a “team” member who loves to work extra time and volunteer for projects? This is usually an annoyingly young person whose dreams are still intact and still has hope in her eyes.
Their outlook on life has yet to be sullied with the knowledge that the people in the position to notice their hard work are probably out somewhere living a real, purpose-filled life with families and actual friends they met outside of work.
If I am ever teamed up with this guy, I make sure I sit with him at all meetings and kick him under the table whenever he volunteers to do anything on the weekend. Nigga, I’m not missing Howard’s homecoming or the Essence Festival because you want a promotion next year.
Stop making the rest of us look bad or I will fuck your ankles up!
Famous work zealots: Beyoncé; Kevin Hart; that one backup singer who’s always a little too enthusiastic for the song he or she is singing.
4. The “Saved” Co-Worker
If you haven’t worked with someone who is saved, sanctified and filled with the Holy Ghost, you haven’t lived, because it will make you want to kill yourself. First of all, we work in the age of Google, computers and operations manuals, so you can’t answer every question with, “Well, the Bible says ... ”
Church people can never take a joke. I’m willing to believe that your religion can fill you with peace and light, but does it necessarily have to fill the space where your sense of humor used to be? Is laughter some kind of sin? Is that why there’s not a single funny verse in the Bible? I know Jesus wept, but he didn’t laugh? Ever?
Plus, my doctor told me I’m allergic to people who don’t cuss. I’m serious; you can check my medical records! If we’re going to work together, you should prepare your ears to hear an average of 3.2 “motherfuckers” per day. I’m willing to bet at least one of the disciples had a filthy mouth, and if God sees and hears everything, I’m sure he’s used to profanity.
He knows my heart.
Famous “saved” co-workers: My aunt Marvell; the guy who invites you to church every Sunday; anyone with the framed story of “Footprints in the Sand.” (By the way, when there was one set of footprints in the sand, that wasn’t when Jesus was carrying you. He was like: “Damn, this motherfucker is heavy!” And he knows you don’t like cussing.)
3. Assistant Boss
You will inevitably have one co-worker who is a little too proud of his or her title. These folks will never be your boss, but they will wield their middle management position like the sword of Damocles over the rest of the workforce. I refer to them as the “Executive in Charge of Assholery.”
These are the people who get to wear the button-up shirt at fast-food restaurants and don’t have to put on a hair net. They usually have titles like executive assistant to the vice president and tell people their position in the company is “right under the vice president ... ”
Assistant bosses come from a distinct lineage. They were the kids who took names when the teacher left the room in grade school. They were the “managers” on the high school football team. They were dry snitches, just before they were promoted to assistant boss. In fact, that’s how they got the job—dry snitching on the previous assistant boss.
Famous assistant bosses: Anthony Scaramucci; Flava Flav; that one White Walker who is always with the Night King.
2. The Office Gossip
Some people can’t hold water. Those people work with you. They always want to talk about your co-workers with you, so you know they are talking about you to your co-workers.
Of all the other categories, this is the one you should stay away from. I know it’s hard because they always have the juicy info, but my grandmother once told me that gossips like to talk about others, and when they run out of information to tell, they’ll just make shit up.
Beware the office gossip. They are a combination of dry snitch, assistant boss and Satan. Their only loyalty is to spreading rumors, and one day, they could turn on you and tell your supervisor that you called him or her an “untalented hack.” Yeah, you said it, but that was supposed to be confidential.
Right now they’re probably telling someone you’re sitting at your desk reading The Root while you’re supposed to be working.
Famous office gossips: Petyr “Littlefinger” Baelish; Willona Woods; the guy who told you Cynthia was Wiccan.
1. The Other Black Person at Work
I have been the only black person at a job, but the only thing worse than working at an all-Caucasian company is being the second black person in an all-white workplace ... especially if the other black person is fucked up in any way, shape or form.
I love being black, and unapologetically so, but when you are one of two or three black people at any place of work, you must be aware that your actions directly reflect on the actions of the rest of the black people who work with you and possibly every other black person your co-workers will ever meet. They think we’re all the same.
When Cynthia is late, it’s because she is always late. If you’re late, it’s because black people are always late. Therefore, we all have the pressure of showing up on time, lest we embarrass our entire race. That’s why it’s tough to work with the black co-worker who thinks everything a white person says to him is an affront to his masculinity or his blackness, so he wants to fight.
There are a lot of black people who can’t hide their emotions, and I’m always the one who has to defuse these bombs: “He just said your report was a day late, Tasha. He didn’t call you a lazy, shiftless nigger!” Or the co-worker who is a little “too woke” and wears a dashiki to the business meeting. Or the front-desk manager you have to tactfully inform that it probably isn’t a good idea to play Young Thug’s new CD as music for the waiting room at the pediatrician’s office where she works. Or the black co-worker you couldn’t stop from laughing when Cynthia asked for maternity leave because her cat had kittens. It was kinda funny, but still ...
I’ve also been the other black person at work. What I am about to tell you is 100 percent true:
A few months ago, the company that owns The Root, Deadspin, Jezebel, Gizmodo, Splinter, I09, the Onion, etc., had an office party. It wasn’t a huge shindig; it was a get-together where the employees brought drinks to the office and hung out after work. The Root’s staff went to the store together to buy drinks for the party, and as we walked together, I gave a heartfelt plea to the rest of the staff that would rival the “I Have a Dream” speech in its fervor and passion.
I begged them to let me bring a case of 40-ounce bottles of Schlitz Malt Liquor to the party. I thought it would be hilarious because I love seeing white people uncomfortable. A few of them probably would have thought they should drink a few sips of the shitty beer so they wouldn’t offend the black people. I bet at least one of them would’ve poured some in a wine glass, too. It would’ve been the funniest, blackest thing ever!
It is only now, as I type this sentence, that I understand the disdainful look my Root co-workers collectively gave me. I was being the “other black person.”
Famous other black people at work: Maxine Waters; Colin Kaepernick; Michael Harriot.