BITE ME: the frazzled

don't ask why. ask why not.

BITE ME: the frazzled

Bite Me is a special 14-installment series based on an undercover  stint at a supermarket to draw out lessons on how to better relate to challenging colleagues in the workplace and how to be a better colleague.

These “profiles” are based on real people who wanted free food.

It’s cheeky and deliciously honest.

To read the others:
The Humble
The A-Hole
The Slob
The Negative
he Snob
he Mute
The Righteous
The Culturally Insensitive
he Oblivious


The Frazzled
get organized

The Personality

The Frazzled is so flighty that I just want to glue a day planner on his arm. The Frazzled looks frazzled, as if he has never owned an iron or a hairbrush in his life. He makes his way towards my table, a carton of juice in one hand, a baguette in another, and a bag of falling apples, leaving an apple trail behind him. When he gets to my table, the Frazzled – who is really nice – asks me how I’m doing, chats a bit, then has to put everything down to pick up a sample. He smiles at me before noticing that one of his apples has wandered over to the meat counter. He runs to catch up to it, apologizing. He may even have forgotten a kid or two playing apple hockey in the Produce section.

He comes back and thanks me, and then starts to pick up his groceries again, and then says to himself, “oh, no, my keys.” He puts everything down to search his pockets. Meanwhile, another apple tries to escape this disorganized man. The Frazzled finds his keys, picks up the wayward apple and his other groceries again. He realizes he forgot something in the last aisle and rushes back to get it, leaving the baguette at my table. He heads off without having sampled anything, forgetting the reason why he came to me in the first place.

A nice man, but I wonder how many more apples (or kids) he will lose before heading to his car, if he remembers where he parked it.

It’s Not Me, It’s You…

The Frazzled is so disorganized, he looks disorganized. His clothes are always just a bit crumpled and his shoes haven’t been shined since the Carter administration. He comes to meetings with an armful of papers, none of which are clipped or stapled, in folders that are bent and have seen better days.

If he’s running a meeting or presenting, everyone is a little bit wary because he usually starts in the middle and tries to present information in a spiral formation, losing half his audience in confusion and the other in amusement. He may be brilliant, but others don’t entirely trust him, especially if in the middle of the presentation, he finds a half-eaten sandwich in between his papers.

The Frazzled has stick-it notes and small pieces of paper stuck everywhere. On these little notes are telephone numbers, client names, deadlines, all in disarray, and when you ask him a question, he has to go through a mountain to find the right stick-in note. Which he usually cannot.

Disorganization is a turn-off and it raises questions about your competency, no matter how technically skilled you may be.

  • Share calendar. Write down each meeting and to-do list as a team that everyone can access. By enforcing a team calendar, everyone – including the Frazzled – can see who is responsible for what and when the deadlines are. Accountability is key.
  • Clarify organizing system. Ask politely and sincerely how the Frazzled organizes things. While his system may make no sense to you, it might to him. Find out what it is, so that not only are you more comfortable and perhaps realize that his system works, but it also creates awareness for him that he may need to assure others that he is more on top of it than others think.
  • Set a dress code. It isn’t necessarily to require everyone to wear the same thing, but by creating office norms in the office (i.e. no cargo pants or flip flops), it can impress upon the Frazzled that appearance does matter in the office.

It’s Me…

  • Get a planner. Whether you do this online or the old-fashioned pen-and-paper routine, write down your meetings, your tasks, and your deadlines. Don’t try to memorize your schedule or numbers, unless you certifiably have a photographic memory. Things change in an instance in the workplace, and you need to know what you’re doing and when to be able to respond quickly to these changes.
  • Organize, organize, organize. Use folders. Use binder clips. Use the methods that work for you, but separate projects so that they are easy to access whenever. You also want your files to be organized such that should you unexpectedly be out of the office and need something, you can easily ask a colleague to go into your files and pull out the X file without them needing a decoder to figure it out.
  • Groom. Take a few minutes to check the mirror to make sure you look presentable. It instills confidence in others to follow your lead.