While you’ve been chained to your desk, other people are now breezing back into the office, full of their exploits. With a little bit of invention you could make turn their return into a fun event and have everyone laughing at the end of it.
Ever have one of those colleagues who managed to top your holiday stories with one of their own? If you went swimming with wild narwhals, they went unicorn riding sort of thing? Don’t be disheartened, you can jiu-jitsu their tales against them.
While they’re away, get the office around to try to piece together the holiday-maker’s itinerary. Where did they say they were going and what did they mention they’d do? The vacationer has probably been boasting about it already, so this shouldn’t be too tough.
Now do some research. Look up the things they said they were going to do – and find more exclusive versions of it at other holiday destinations around the world.
Here’s the tricksy bit: each person in the office gets assigned one top-up-tale to keep in reserve.
When your workmate wanders back in and starts boasting about their holiday activities you and your teammates can slip in one-upping stories throughout the day. She tries to show off about exclusive clubs in Rome? One of you can claim they breakdanced for the Pope. Cowabunga!
Come the end of their first day back, your colleague will either be so deflated that they won’t try to boast again or, if they’re even a little bit sensitive, they’ll get the message that showing off isn’t needed.
The Post-it? Noted.
For an amusing diversion, make your friend’s life a wee bit more difficult by covering their office in sticky notes. It’s a tried and tested technique and certainly has the wow-factor depending on just how much of the office you cover. Here’s a great example using heart-shaped Post-it notes. (But if you do use these heart notes, don’t let that guy put them up because it could come across as a bit creepy. Every office has a that guy; a bit too familiar, a little too personal.)
We’ve Been Sold
While your colleague was away, the company was sold to the Nakatomi Corporation, a Japanese conglomerate. This won’t affect what the company does or where it is (you’re still a plumbing supplies firm in Crawley), but it will change how staff are supposed to behave.
The story is that there’s a restructuring coming and people will keep their jobs based on how well they can communicate in Japanese and master the country’s intricate rules of office etiquette.
When they walk into the office, they’ll be greeted by the sight of everyone pouring over Japanese dictionaries, trying to master Japanese phrases written on a whiteboard and learning how to pour tea (“How do you say ‘one lump or two?’ ”)
It also turns out the new owners are making a flying visit at the end of the week, so if your colleague wants to keep their job they better start reading up quickly and get ready for some really long days.
The Sixth Sense
Perhaps the most scary, though also funniest way, to deal with a holiday-boasting colleague to give them the old M Night Shangalang treatment like in The Sixth Sense.
First remove any reference to them in company literature – or change all their mentions to appear in the past tense, so instead of reading ‘Gary is in charge…’ it will say ‘Gary was in charge‘. Next, clear their desk totally of any personal items or records. Go through the office kitchen’s cupboards and make sure that you’ve caught any favourite drinks or snacks that they’ve brought in before.
When your colleague comes in, don’t acknowledge them or their existence. If you need to walk past them, stroll by carefully. If they tap you on the shoulder or try to touch you, shrug it off and say there’s a chill in the air.
Yes, you want your teammate to believe they are actually… a ghost! (Perhaps their holiday trip to a banana packing plant ended in a slip with spooky consequences.)
Of course, you won’t be able to keep this up forever – they’ll know that something is up – but all you want is the merest glimmer, the faintest hint, that they are second-guessing their own reality.
But, please, don’t do any of this to someone with a dicky ticker or poor sense of humour. A good joke makes everyone laugh.