Office Manners

by Matthew Bedard

Barcelona, Punta Mita, Rome, and How to Get There While Getting Ahead, Properly
Office etiquette, dear readers, is a an imperative mastery, an anyone’s must, the paper-thin-sheared anago of modern manners, and herein you’ll be gifted with some tips on how to ascend the boxy fluorescence, the quotidian paper pushing, the at-times-glaringly-gauche ant farm of the modern work place, and leave a lasting impression.

Plastic surgery. Plan your holidays around your chemical peels. There is nothing more unsightly, or unmannerly, than showing up with blotchy reds or oranges, transparencies, things hanging. Already, everyone expects a rejuvenated, fetching glow after a week away in Punta Mita, for instance, and you’ll exceed their expectations with your little secret upon return, more youthful than ever and voraciously in position to harpoon that encroaching, whale tail account, the commission of which will land you more peels and heightened self-esteem.

While in Punta Mita, this learned hand would suggest nothing else than the St. Regis Hotel, for its brazenly chic cabana collection, overlooking the soul-stirring, rugged Pacific coastline, acts as restorative think-cubes for transcendentalizing with near-sheer veils, allowing sun-flirtation, but not quite first base with your freshly shorn cheek bones and décolletage. Should you have caught the attention of chef Daniela Tonon with your three-hour headstand on the beach during sunrise Ashtanga, you’ll be invited a sit-down with smoked shrimp and Mezcal at sunset, along with the world’s finest cold pea soup (hyperbole here impossible), the phytonutrients of which will reduce inflammation, should the Rodeo visit prior to Puerta Vallarta have tickled a nerve or two.

Mistakes, any work place will tell you, do happen. Consider ghostface. This is what we call botched Botox, which leaves your left or right eye droopy, your face looking a bit like Forrest Whitaker in Ghost Dog. The solution? Designer shades ’round the clock. While perhaps a bit awkward during a boardroom teleconference with Riyaad, betwixt a cuticle-cleansing in the lavatory, or at your desktop monitor (the absolute only time polarized lenses are not the bee’s knees), your shameless elevation of day into night will create an energetic ripple through the cubicles, one that makes time sail, and those around you, perhaps struggling as such, to feel cooler. Manners, after all, are about setting others at ease.

Now, where to source such glamorous eyewear? Italy, obviously. Abscond, absolve, and when the customs agent remarks on your ghostface, smile and say, “prego.” In Italy, prego is sort of a be-all for mannerly smoothness. Saddle a moto, quaff a bit of grappa, sidle into some Valentino, and make your way high above the smoke of Roma for a turn-down at the Waldorf Astoria’s Cavalieri, where they possess a wine cellar (tricky to visualize here as you are high, high above the city, but suspend your disbelief), of nearly 55,000 bottles and a resto that offers 29 types of water (a fab opportunity for geo-political know-how wielding), great for refreshment and even better for ghostface. After an evening spent beholding the Tiepolos and Warhols that deck the halls, reclining on their Karl-designed sofas and sharing with the recent runway standouts that flank your left and right your heroic agency in the recent company merger (sales go triple!), wake early, do a toe-touch or two, WhatsApp the spouse and/or mother, toss a polite but suggestive wink toward the chambermaid and head down into the madness to purchase your rims. And remember, nothing says politeness like opacity.

Do sleep with colleagues. As much as you can. It’s bloody fun. What’s not bloody fun is falling into unrequited love with a colleague, getting served while sipping your lobster bisque during an off-site, or having the colleague’s sig other greet you in the car park with a wooden rolling pin; so proceed cautiously and don’t let things unnecessarily balloon. You’re here, after all, by necessity, not plan. Remember these things: offing with men who wear suits everyday to the office is easier than some media putz eager to show his quirky or colorful side. No one will notice the suit’s “repeat rumple” (provided a store of cravats are kept in the top left) and there will be more time for a.m. cuddles and declarations that border on regret, but parlay into prospective promotion, should you take it overnight. Otherwise, of course, get creative with where and when, and almost always get caught by colleagues. In some instances, it’s best it’s assumed you’re having it with several inter-departmentals at once, as eventually you’ll just be likened to an interloper in spirit, not by airtight evidence. But yeah, get them talking. But don’t give them the whole potato, just a crinkle cut. Leave, hurriedly, perhaps a store room together in a bit of a fumble, and always make sure to mention the pesky, misplaced file. Feed one another little bites of baby carrots, et al., during internal sits, but make sure to do so with those you’d never dream of biting in other ways too, so it’s assumed you’re charming by proxy, not exclusively love-organ moxie. Most importantly, keep this under the nine-foot ceilings. At team building outings, for instance, blatantly ignore, if not snub, the collaborator. For it’s here the pathetic I-would-absolutely-never’s have a sharpened eye to those having more fun, and because you’ve all zeroed the inbox pre-picnic, there’s simply more time to assess and gossip.

Alas, if for whatever godforsaken reason your sweaty-browed Xeroxing leaves you asking if it might be worth sacking the two-hour commute back to Shady Pines and the Xerox-less nagging that welcomes you there, instead electing for a loft downtown, a Neymar-inspired haircut, and a go at carpooling, a compatibility test is doctor’s orders. Manners, after all, are best refined under pressure. To Barcelona, where the right outdoes the rules, and you can stare long and hard at the day-lit, naked torso in your company, along with everyone else on the beach, and determine if, given that the revealing blouses or tailored Zegna jackets were not part of the post-chemical peel carry-on packing, it’s going to be as nutritive, as exciting, once it’s gone public. The same quandary applies to your formerly private 401-supplier, and you’re no exception. For further evaluation, book a suite at the Mandarin Oriental, snug on the Passeig de Gràcia—which boasts perhaps the finest rooftop pool deck in all of Europe, and Patricia Urquiola’s impeccable designs—the highlights of which include beaded canopies on various floors, and cream-colored rotary phones for calls you don’t and shan’t be taking in your suite. Manners, as we know, are largely about not giving it all away. For an added touch, make sure your abscond is during Sonar, a cortex-combing electronic festival that doesn’t permit sleep before nine a.m., and allots yet another opportunity to get a good look at your crime partner sans boardroom halo, or deadline duress.

It’s funny the way time flies when you’re taking care of yourself, and in so doing, taking care of others. As much as we’d like to believe, manners will always have a place in our life, no matter our efforts to displace our lives. What’s imperative is that we look great, celebrate the cultural riches that pepper our planet, and our offices, and leave a lasting impression. We’ll be dead one day, but whether we did it right when we were doing it—that’s the real measure, that’s the etiquette eternal.