The Corridor Gremlin

Recently, I have been plagued by corridor gremlins.

Oh, come on, of course you know what a corridor gremlin is. You just might never have called it that before.

Picture your most annoying colleague. Most annoying. And probably, one of the things you find most annoying is the way they hover (aaaand if you didn’t before, you will now. Sorry.) They’ll be holding a piece of paper, or a file, and they’ll hover. Either near your desk if you have the misfortune to work in an open plan office, or outside your office door if you’re lucky enough to have one (like me).

And said colleague will wait until you look up and make eye contact before they start speaking. And I mean WAIT.

I should probably say at this point that, because I am a curmudgeonly cowbag, I have a sign on my office door which reads “Your pointless interruption may occur” on one side, and “No. I SAID NO. BUGGER OFF.” on the other. (Well, polite words to that effect.) So when the sign says “Yeah, go ahead, interrupt me,” I don’t mind a knock at the office door. I don’t mind someone coming to ask me a question that makes me facepalm so hard I leave an imprint (this week’s doozy was “How does the keyboard work?” and the person asking has a PhD. I’m just gonna leave that one with you for a moment.)

But when my sign says “Bog off”?

Interrupt me at your peril.

I usually put it up when I’m doing something that requires me to concentrate – and that’s usually something that either involves numbers or complicated planning.

And so. I will be in my office, sign on the door, working away at something important, and…

A corridor gremlin will appear.

The gremlin stands in the corridor, peering through the glass panel in my office door, performing a sort of bob/weave manoeuvre in the hopes of catching my eye, whilst I navigate my way through, say, a month’s worth of expenses from my boss’ recent trip. You know, something that requires my full and complete attention, hence why I have (politely – and it is polite…I think) asked my colleagues not to interrupt me.

So yeah, the gremlin starts the bob/weave performance, whilst I studiously ignore them and carry on working. The gremlin will raise a hand and knock, tentatively. I ignore said knock and continue to work.

The gremlin grows agitated, and the bob/weave becomes more…shall we say, emcompassing? Arms may be waved about, hands may alternately press against the glass panel in my door and be waggled at me.

I continue to work, not making eye contact.

At this point, a lesser mortal would give up, go back to their own office and email me instead.

Not the corridor gremlin!

No, for the corridor gremlin, a tactical retreat would be a sign of WEAKNESS. They must persevere!! They MUST ATTRACT MY ATTENTION!

They knock again, more enthusiastically. AND CALL MY NAME.

I usually, at this point, take a deep breath and remind myself that they’re functionally moronic, and can’t help their behaviour. I’m never sure if it helps, or if it is just delaying the inevitable murder that will take place.

I reach out a hand and open the office door (I mentioned that I can touch all four walls of my office from the middle of the room, right?) and hiss “Yes?”

“Sorry to interrupt you,” the gremlin will croak.

“No, you’re not,” is my stock response. Because they’re not. No-one who legitimately thinks it’s OK to stand at my office door doing a waggly dance to attract my attention is sorry to interrupt me. No-one.

“Well, I just have a question.”

“I’m busy.” Go away.

“It’ll only take a second.”

“Email me.” Go. Away.

“But I just wondered if you’d heard about my order from [insert generic company here].”


“It hasn’t turned up.”

“I’m. Busy.” Oh, kindly bugger off.



“It’s urgent!”

So is my desire to kill you. “I’m busy right now,” doing my actual job, “so if it’s that urgent, phone the company yourself. The details are all on the website.”

This will usually subdue them, and send them scurrying back to their hovels. Rarely, the gremlin will make an attempt at arguing this point (one of them genuinely once tried to use the argument, ‘But I can’t make the phone call! I don’t speak English very well!’ I laughed maniacally until I made something in my stomach twinge. That was the first and last time someone tried that shit with me.) and occasionally will make an attempt to suggest that they aren’t sure how the phone or the internet works (I made them special “how to use the phone” guides, because they were challenged by picking up the telephone and dialling “9” for an outside line. THEY HAVE PhDS.)

And that, Gentle Reader, is how I spend my workdays. Fighting off corridor gremlins. Fun times.

Amazing drawing by John Chilton of – check out his awesome gallery here:

3 thoughts on “The Corridor Gremlin

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