AIBU to think one of my co-workers has a point ?

(94 Posts)
SeptemberFlowers Mon 17-Feb-14 11:22:40

I work in a small team and one of my colleagues smokes, she'll nip out in the morning and have one followed by an afternoon one, however she is always at work early to cover the extra break time.

One colleague said to her this morning "Off for another death stick ? You should try quitting you know, you're doing your health no favours." Smoker colleague has tried a few times but non smoker colleague is always making a comment or two, I feel it's none of our business. She's a grown woman who makes her own choices.

This morning after non smoker colleague said that, smoker snapped back. "How about you stop snacking on all the junk food and crap that you eat ? You are doing you're health no favours you know, I hear Weight Watchers is good." Then she left.

Colleague sat their stunned and quite promptly burst into tears. She is morbidly obese (she tells the whole office this fact so it's not me being unkind).

A small part of me feels actually that smoker has a point, why is it ok for non smoker to make comments but as soon as shoe is on the other foot it's bullying ? (non smoker wants to complain for bullying now)

Over to the MN jury !

Non smoker is being silly for thinking about making a complaint, she had it coming if she frequently has a dig at smoking colleague.

Good for smoker woman I say.

Triliteral Mon 17-Feb-14 11:27:01

Your obese colleague hasn't a leg to stand on if she feels she has been bullied. Sounds to me like your smoker colleague's comments were entirely similar to the ones she made herself. Hopefully when she calms down, she might realise she was out of order.

DustyBaubles Mon 17-Feb-14 11:27:04

Meh. If she can't take a perfectly honest response, the tearful one should keep her rather dull opinions to herself.

I say that as someone who has never smoked. Preachy people are tiresome, especially when they bleat about 'bullying' the minute their idiocy is pointed out.

I agree completely. Unless she's blowing smoke into your non-smoking colleague's face it's not of the latter's business and she should have kept her opinions to herself.

minibmw2010 Mon 17-Feb-14 11:27:50

It's not really on for either of them to make such personal comments, but I do understand why colleague A has finally snapped at colleague B. It may make colleague B a bit kinder in future. If she does haul Colleague A up for bullying, she had better be prepared to have the same accusation lobbed straight back at her.

CSIJanner Mon 17-Feb-14 11:28:09

I'm on the edge here - if she just inserted in tit for tat words verbatim, I would have said the smoke colleague WBU. however she inserted the weight watchers remark. Does NSC (non smoker colleague) at junk & crap at work? The thing is, both colleagues will probably be reprimanded as both A&E made personal comments that don't effect work at the moment.

The fall out however will

HomeIsWhereTheGinIs Mon 17-Feb-14 11:28:43

YANBU OP - am mentally cheering the smoker on. Why should she have to put up with irritating preaching? Sounds like the over-eater can't take her own medicine.

CSIJanner Mon 17-Feb-14 11:29:04

*have not A&E

Why does my spellcheck keep doing that!!

shakinstevenslovechild Mon 17-Feb-14 11:29:14

The smoker did have a point, and made it well. Non smoker should have kept her nose out. She might think on next time.

teacher123 Mon 17-Feb-14 11:30:25

I agree. I was a smoker for years and got mega pissed off with people who made comments about it. If she's getting her work done and noone's having to cover for her in her breaks then it's no one else's business.

KellyElly Mon 17-Feb-14 11:30:27

Hopefully everyone has learnt a lesson here. Keep annoying personal comments in your own head!

Morgause Mon 17-Feb-14 11:30:40

She should take it on the chin. If she can't take it she shouldn't dish it out.

angelos02 Mon 17-Feb-14 11:32:20

Good on the smoker. I totally understand why B retaliated in the way they did. I don't know the statistics but would imagine being obese is at least as unhealthy as smoking.

DustyBaubles Mon 17-Feb-14 11:34:22

By the way OP, I hope you are not 'there, there-ing' the tearful one.

I'd have no hesitation in pointing out that she was unreasonable with her comments in the first place.

I hate people like that, happy to dish it out but not happy to be on the receiving end! She won't have a leg to stand on, if it's something she has said frequently to the smoker then the one time that the smoker responds is not going to be enough to get smoker in trouble. She could easily respond with counter bullying complaints if she wants too.

Innogen Mon 17-Feb-14 11:37:19

I'm on smokers side. Obese lady sounds nosy as fuck.

frugalfuzzpig Mon 17-Feb-14 11:38:43

Does the obese colleague actually eat loads of junk food and crap though, or is the smoker colleague making assumptions?

I'm just wondering really as I don't think it was U of the smoker to snap (I say that as an obese woman who hates smoking BTW)

Alisvolatpropiis Mon 17-Feb-14 11:39:17

Colleague B is one of the many people who can give but cannot take snide comments.

Poor dear. hmm

ISeeYouShiverWithAntici Mon 17-Feb-14 11:40:06

Serves her right. What made her decide she had the right to make personal comments and be protected from being responded to in kind?

Someone needs to point out that she had no more right to make the comments she did, and if she had not chosen to do that, she would not have had the reply that she did.

IceNoSlice Mon 17-Feb-14 11:41:59

Smoker was wrong to abuse obese woman but it is understandable after obese ean's comments (which were also wrong). Noone deserves sympathy here. But it could create an atmosphere at work.

Don't get involved OP!

MothratheMighty Mon 17-Feb-14 11:44:11

'Smoker colleague has tried a few times but non smoker colleague is always making a comment or two,'

Obese colleague needled her NS colleague over a period of time, did anyone else in the office say 'Oi, that's not on'?
Did you let her snippy comments go unchallenged?
Why is it different when the smoker retorts? Hoist with her own petard.

MothratheMighty Mon 17-Feb-14 11:45:11

NS colleague


Her smoker colleague

OwlCapone Mon 17-Feb-14 11:47:16

So, Overeater regularly makes snippy comments about Smoker's habit, Smoker finally snaps back with a similar comment to Overeater and Overeater thinks she is the one being bullied...?

I am vehemently anti smoking but I'm with Smoker on this one!

pianodoodle Mon 17-Feb-14 11:47:21

I'd like to think I wouldn't have lowered myself to make personal comments back in the smoker's position... but I can't say for sure that I wouldn't have if nagged often enough!


DejaVuAllOverAgain Mon 17-Feb-14 11:53:24

I'm on the side of smoker colleague and I'm a non smoker who is obese.

Non smoker colleague has been making snide digs for a while. She cannot complain when smoker colleague finally snaps and replies in kind.

Both out of order, but I hope the smoker doesn't get into trouble for snapping as she was clearly being bullied and was pushed to it! Stay out of it if you can OP, sound like it's going to get messy!

moobaloo Mon 17-Feb-14 11:55:23

Another one with the smoker! It's her life, her choice, she's an adult etc. what has it got to do with fat colleague if she chooses to smoke or not?

This is where I find one bible bit relevant, something along the lines of not passing judgement on others unless you are perfect yourself

I'd have snapped ages ago!

(Not a smoker or religious)

LoopyDoopyDoo Mon 17-Feb-14 11:57:53


SeptemberFlowers Mon 17-Feb-14 12:06:35

NS looked at me rather shocked and I did say "You did have that coming ..." in a gentle tone as she has been making comments to Smoker for awhile now.

NS does snack on crap food, she'll have McD's for lunch, crisps and various chocolate bars during the day at work so Smoker was accurate there.

NS has flounced out now, amd WW3 has commenced in the office. Smoker came back in and looked sheepish, NS snapped "I'm lodging a complaint with HR" and walked out. Smoker looked at me "I was going to apologise but fuck that."
NS has gone for lunch and S called out as she left "Might I suggest a salad instead of a double quarter pounder meal ?" Then immediately went red and said that was stupid of her but she was just mad.

I'm suddenly finding sorting my inbox very riveting ! grin

SeptemberFlowers Mon 17-Feb-14 12:08:02

Sorry that has been written incorrectly, Smoket came back in from her break looking sheepish but NS flounced out at lunch.

WoTmania Mon 17-Feb-14 12:09:42

hmmm, smoker WNBU (although the comment as NS flounced was ABitU)

MothratheMighty Mon 17-Feb-14 12:10:02

So, if the Fat Lady Sings, will you stand up for your workmate and say that there has been continuous comments that woud her up over a period of time, and that it was not an attack but a riposte? A defence?
Or will you duck out of the line of fire and say nothing?

moggle Mon 17-Feb-14 12:11:50

Oh dear! I agree it sounds like tit for tat. Maybe you should write down what happened while you remember it in case you get asked as the eyewitness! It is a bit unfair that smokers have to put up with these kind of comments whereas comments about other aspects of health are more taboo.

Used to work in health research for nearly a decade and from everything I've read, eating that kind of junk every day is probably going to be worse than low level smoking (from your OP, sounds like smoker maybe gets through 5 a day so not exactly a big habit). Agree they should both give up their bad habits though!

Do you think NS will actually lodge a complaint?

NS is playing the victim, I hope HR laugh her out of the office.

MothratheMighty Mon 17-Feb-14 12:13:08


My DS walked out of his volunteer job last week after being needled and needled and sniped at by one of the other, older, female volunteers.
His manager ran down the street after him to apologise for not being more proactive and stopping the shit before it blew up.
DS went back, his solution is to not speak to the woman, or make eye contact, or hear her. She's won herself a ninja suit.

wowfudge Mon 17-Feb-14 12:15:41

Both as bad as each other; can't say that I blame Smoker for snapping initially. Your obese colleague needs to think how she made smoker feel, once she has stopped feeling sorry for herself. She's proved the point hasn't she - she got upset when someone passed comment on her in a very personal way and didn't like it so why would she think it was different when she did the same?

It would be better if they could apologise to each other and move on.

Topaz25 Mon 17-Feb-14 12:15:53

I'm a non smoker but I would never make obnoxious comments like that. Your non smoking colleague shouldn't make personal comments if she can't take them. It sounds like your smoking colleague has tried to resolve this before without success so decided to be more direct and point out non smoking colleague isn't perfect. One comment isn't bullying, bullying is repeatedly picking on someone like non smoking colleague did. I hope your manager can see that if she makes a complaint but I would stay out of it if possible.

Xfirefly Mon 17-Feb-14 12:21:52

she had it coming IMO. She obviously can't take it so she shouldn't dish it. do you think she'll actually lodge a complaint? or is she threatening it out of embarrassment?

Xfirefly Mon 17-Feb-14 12:22:42

sorry kind of x posted with stayclassy blush

WorraLiberty Mon 17-Feb-14 12:25:44

It serves NS right. Perhaps she'll learn to keep her comments to herself in future.

As an aside, why do so many people snack in offices?

I've only ever worked in public facing roles and can't imagine spending a whole working day eating.

Fair enough on a tea or lunch break but I'm surprised it's allowed at any other time.

helenthemadex Mon 17-Feb-14 12:29:23

oh dear that sounds a fun place to be at the moment!! NS was BVU and I say that as a non smoker, you make a comment you open yourself up for getting one back

SeptemberFlowers Mon 17-Feb-14 12:30:09

Mothrathemighty I can hardly see what I will do should she make a complaint is anything to do with this thread. If something gets asked then I'll deal with it.

MothratheMighty Mon 17-Feb-14 12:32:58

You seem to work in an office where snippy comments and undermining each other is unremarkable. I was wondering if you wanted that to change.

bearleftmonkeyright Mon 17-Feb-14 12:34:55

I think they both sound as bad as each other and it makes for a horrible work atmosphere. As much as I disagree with how non smoking woman handled things smoking colleague does not have moral high ground now. There are a million better ways she couldve handled this. There are many work environments that do not allow smoking at all. How would she manage if your company made that change?

ivykaty44 Mon 17-Feb-14 12:39:19

So is anyone going to point out to NS that if she lodges a complaint she will in fact be scoring an own goal as smoker will contract with far more ammunition than todays one comment and the NS could find herself in far more trouble for consistent daily abuse

Seff Mon 17-Feb-14 12:40:57

Two comments in retaliation to the other woman who is "always making a comment or two" does not make them as bad as each other.

If it's being called bullying, there's only one bully there.

BabyMummy29 Mon 17-Feb-14 12:41:45

Sounds like a classic case of someone who likes to dish out "advice" but can't take it when others retaliate.

In my opinion the NS got what she deserved. In no way do I condone smoking, but I expect the smoker had just had enough and snapped back where it hurt.

I don't see that the NS has any grounds to complain.

DorisAllTheDay Mon 17-Feb-14 12:45:05

I have some sympathy with the smoker, but she's put herself in the wrong both with her original comment and certainly the follow-up. If the comments were getting to her (and I can see why they would) then she should have done the adult thing much earlier, and asked the colleague, calmly and reasonably, to stop making them. A simple 'Please would you stop commenting on my smoking' should have done the trick - and if it hadn't, an escalation of the request, 'I've asked you not to comment on my smoking: if you continue to do so, I'll have to take things further'. But by descending to tit-for-tat she's done herself no favours.

Sounds to me as though they both need their heads knocking together. They've been childish and unreasonable, and now it's having an adverse effect on everyone in the office. I hope that by the afternoon they've calmed down enough to see reason, apologise to each other and move on, with lessons learned all round. I would keep out of it as far as you can, OP, and not be seen to side with either of them. And yes, a good idea to write it down in case NS decides to make a formal complaint. I hope she won't, though, because it will just escalate what should be a storm in a teacup.

bearleftmonkeyright Mon 17-Feb-14 12:47:02

That's not bullying, that's playground namecalling. If smoker felt she was being bullied she should have reported, instead of being as bad as non smoker. It just makes everyone feel crap. But as an aside, was your manager aware of this. Why didn't he or she deal with it?

FoxesRevenge Mon 17-Feb-14 12:49:18

Ah, stir it up a bit. Leave some dieting literature on one desk and an e-cig on the other. Never own up grin

WooWooOwl Mon 17-Feb-14 12:50:19

Your non smoking colleague sounds like she deserved the comment she got, good on the smoker!

I'd advise the smoker to get in there first and let boss or HR know what's happened in case the obese one is stupid enough to make a complaint.

AlpacaLypse Mon 17-Feb-14 12:52:32

grin FoxesRevenge

bearleftmonkeyright Mon 17-Feb-14 12:53:34

Foxesrevenge, excellent advice!

chinatown Mon 17-Feb-14 13:09:45

Mothra, what does 'she won herself a ninja suit' mean?!

Pimpf Mon 17-Feb-14 13:13:06

NHS is being over sensitive, if she can't take it, she shouldn't dish it out.

I hope you stick up for s colleague if the silly m&s puts in a complaint t

Pimpf Mon 17-Feb-14 13:13:34

Haha or do what foxes suggests!

MothratheMighty Mon 17-Feb-14 13:21:50

'Mothra, what does 'she won herself a ninja suit' mean?!'

DS's way of dealing with people he can't cope with, once he's tried all the usual stuff. He deletes them from his world.
So she's in the shop, but he can't hear her snippy comments about lazy teenagers, the feckless youth of today and the rest. She's blending into the background for him, present but invisible.
It's a coping strategy.
This volunteer job is teaching him many life skills that were not necessary in school. smile

chinatown Mon 17-Feb-14 13:28:25

Thank you. I thought it must be an auto correct fail as it didn't really make sense.

MothratheMighty Mon 17-Feb-14 13:30:02

I often don't make sense. grin

Scrounger Mon 17-Feb-14 13:30:33

Mothra, what a cow. Slagging off a teenager about being lazy whilst he is volunteering? Awesome lack of awareness.

chinatown Mon 17-Feb-14 13:31:41

[Grin] I thought it was a failed autocorrect for some kind of HR suit blush

MothratheMighty Mon 17-Feb-14 13:48:19

There will be many ignorant cows in his future. I see her as practice in that he hasn't thrown her into the skip. Well done DS. Excellent strategy.

SeptemberFlowers Mon 17-Feb-14 13:50:50

grin at Fox

I've spoken to manager on way out to lunch and said what had happened. She thanked and said she'll deal with it this afternoon. If I had to take sides then I'm with Smoker.

Innogen Mon 17-Feb-14 13:54:40

If I was smoker, and NS was lodging a complaint, I'd be putting one in too.

HR need the full story.

Topaz25 Mon 17-Feb-14 13:55:21

Why do you have to take sides though? It's not really anything to do with you. It's only going to cause trouble. The non smoking colleague sounds very good at twisting things so she looks like the victim.

FoxesRevenge Mon 17-Feb-14 14:02:02

I can see it now, NS is going to sit on smoker and smoker is going to dimp out a fag on her.

Seriously though, HR need to highlight the fact that personal comments should be kept out of the workplace. they can fight at the school gates at hometime

Xoticdreamz Mon 17-Feb-14 14:24:50

I am with the smoker . It used to annoy me when non smokers preached and ruined my smoking breaks .

bearleftmonkeyright Mon 17-Feb-14 14:47:17

Op if I had to "take sides" I would probably go with smoker. But you don't need to. That's HR's job. You still have to work with these people so I would be sitting on the fence with splinters in my arse to stop this escalating any further.

VegetariansTasteLikeChicken Mon 17-Feb-14 14:50:01

Oh good, I was a bit worried it had been a day forever since the last fat bashing thread!

FoxesRevenge Mon 17-Feb-14 14:53:49

Vegetarians you get a double whammy with this one. Fat bashing and smoker bashing grin

The only time I would have an issue with smokers is if they're unfairly taking up work time to smoke and not working it back or when they're breathing their freshly fagged breath directly onto me. Apart from that, they can do whatever they want.

And the only time I would have an issue with 'fat' colleagues is when they don't share their treats with me. That's just pure selfish that is.

bragmatic Mon 17-Feb-14 14:59:13

I'm glad I don't work in HR anymore. This is the sort of shit that would take an entire afternoon and a box of tissues to sort out.

pettybetty Mon 17-Feb-14 17:59:17

I think if I was the SC, I would not have said something like that about someone else's weight, as one is clearly a lot more personal than the other. Yes they are annoying ongoing comments, but something NSC may have felt was ok between friends if there had been no complaint til now. Some people don't feel 'atmosphere' and are a bit obtuse.

I would have said something like "can you stop making constant remarks on my personal choices, or is it ok to do the same with you?" It would still get the point across and warn her off as she would probably understand what I was getting at, but could pretend not to, iyswim?

I do think that SC was really mean, and if this had been happening over a period of time (days, weeks), then she had plenty of time to come up with a suitable retort that didn't involve a nuclear bomb, which she has in effect detonated.

pettybetty Mon 17-Feb-14 18:02:48

Also, doubly mean as she had that last crack at NSC about the salad.

NeonMuffin Mon 17-Feb-14 18:10:46

The things is the obese are a far bigger drain on NHS resources than smokers are, so the NS was being a hypocrite and a patronising one to boot.

I'm a non smoker btw.

Joysmum Mon 17-Feb-14 18:42:26

I'm with the smoker. I always say that you should treat others how you wish to be treated yourself. So if this woman thought it ok to make personal comments, she should expect the same back.

this coming from both an ex smoker and ex obese woman

yummystepford Mon 17-Feb-14 18:45:15

Alcohol abusers and hard drug addicts get more sympathy than smokers, even though smoking is the most addictive substance and legal. Be tolerant of everyone except smokers, oh and don't tell the fat chick she eats too much! It's a fair response, if you can't take it don't dish it out!

ComposHat Mon 17-Feb-14 18:48:02

The smoker was restrained. I fear my response in similar situations would have been along the lines of 'fuck off fatty.'

SantanaLopez Mon 17-Feb-14 18:49:03

A MN thread on the side of the smoker, who would have thought grin

I'm with smoker. And I say that as a reformed smoker grin

You are right - NS-colleague shouldn't dish it out if she can't take it. And you did the right thing by giving a bystander's account of it all to,your manager.

As someone who is obese, and whose diet is not good, I can sympathise with the hurt that NS is feeling, but I wouldn't be making the sort if comments she's been making to the smoker.

Smoker was, of course, correct.

However, I wouldn't have said it.

HarpyFishwifeTwat Mon 17-Feb-14 18:53:44

I'm a fatty who loves snacking and have never touched a cigarette in my life. Definitely on the side of the smoker, perhaps she shouldn't have snapped but there's only so much crap you can take from people without replying.

Is non-smoker always such a rude bitch?

grimbletart Mon 17-Feb-14 21:28:22

I'm a lifelong non smoker and hate smoking, but definitely on the smoker's side here.

Non-smoker was essentially being a bully by trying to embarrass her colleague and the way to deal with bullies is to stand up to them. She deserved everything she got.

harriet247 Mon 17-Feb-14 21:33:53

She deserved it. Truth hurts on both sides.

TheFarSide Mon 17-Feb-14 21:48:22

Also supporting the smoker - sounds like she just snapped. Any sensible HR department would realise that she had been provoked.

AlpacaPicnic Mon 17-Feb-14 21:59:54

I completely get why the smoker snapped. Non smoker was in the wrong and started it so nerrrrrrr

I used to work with a woman who constantly tried to belittle me for being 'young' things like mentioning programmes that used to be on and turning to me and saying ' you won't know what I'm on about, it was before your time'
It sounds silly but it was the way she said it, like I couldn't have heard of anything before I was born. Oh how I longed to do the same to her but mention new things and say 'you won't know what I'm talking about, you're too old' but I didn't have the balls to do it!

mumminio Mon 17-Feb-14 22:22:19

What happened next?!

WorraLiberty Mon 17-Feb-14 22:31:43

Alpaca you should have said you saw it on Gold grin

Pimpf Mon 17-Feb-14 22:37:24

I don't think I've ever seen so much support for a smoker!

SeptemberFlowers Wed 19-Feb-14 19:24:59

Wee update

Smoker is a MN'er grin

NS came back from lunch in a huff and started sniping.

Smoker rolled her eyes and ignored her, it continued for an hour then Smoker went to HR and explained.

NS has had a verbal warning and is pulling the "Woe is me" act. But has stopped making comments to Smoker.

Funny how Smoker has started to use an e cig and NS had a Slimming World magazine appear on her desk shock

scarffiend Wed 19-Feb-14 19:47:06

Best conclusion to a story ever.

LegoCaltrops Wed 19-Feb-14 19:51:56

Love it! Thanks for the update.

CuntyBunty Thu 20-Feb-14 09:22:15

Has NS seen her thread OP.

In a way, it really doesn't matter what the subject of the spat was. Take the fat and the fags out of it and we can see Smoker was the victim originally and Fatty only got what she deserves. If smoker was made to feel embarrassed every time she nipped for a fag, now the perpetrator will know how it feels every time she unwraps a Snickers in the office. Tough titty. Karma eh?

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