The "Professional Phone Voice" and Other Workplace Phenomena

Highly recognizable yet inexplicable.

Blazer, White-collar worker, Employment, Job, Advertising, Businessperson, Office equipment,
(Image credit: Getty, design by Betsy Farrell)

After studying thousands of workplaces* across America, scientists** have observed several office-specific phenomena, usually involving stolen fruit and the shirking of responsibility. (No wonder we've got a productivity problem, eh?) Here, five examples of indescribable activity, inelegantly expressed, but you'll understand anyway, because this is 100 percent your life.

*just the one


Not to be confused with the other EOD chicken, in which you find yourself eating poultry left over from lunch at 4:27 p.m. because protein, and there aren't any good snacks available within reaching distance. This kind of EOD chicken is akin to the pain-endurance kind hoodlums play with lit cigarettes, except it's just a bunch of young professionals trying to outlast one another because being the first to leave doesn't look good, even when you haven't even got any emails left to answer, and you're all just taking quizzes to find out what kind of hot dog matches your personality.

When you pretend to be a responsible young woman on a call, and your voice drops half an octave deeper, even though, in your head, you still maintain that it's "my voice, my vocal fry." Includes liberal use of $10 words you recall from SAT prep classes. (Too bad you didn't recall them on the actual SAT, HAHA.) A close cousin of the customer service voice, except not as passive-aggressively subservient.

The Bathroom Rush-Hour Principle

Looks empty. Immediately fills up when, one second later, you stand up to go relieve yourself. Is not limited to post-lunchtime or after group trips to the coffee machine. Is as infinite as your bladder is insufficient for the amount of coffee you drink.

The Law of Saying "Yeah, Sounds Good" When Everyone Was Clearly Expecting More

The bigger the meeting, the greater the disappointment.

The Cheerleader Effect, but with Fruit, but Kind of Opposite

Like how bystanders will find you more attractive if you're surrounded by attractive friends, a squishy pear will look appealing to a food thief when the context is a communal fridge that contains one Tupperware of cottage cheese (WTF, Trudy), seven tubs of plain Greek yogurt, and a thing of somebody's mayonnaise-based salad.

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Assistant Editor

Chelsea Peng is a writer and editor who was formerly the assistant editor at Marie Claire. She's also worked for The Strategist and Refinery29, and is a graduate of Northwestern University. On her tombstone, she would like a GIF of herself that's better than the one that already exists on the Internet and a free fro-yo machine. Besides frozen dairy products, she's into pirates, carbs, Balzac, and snacking so hard she has to go lie down.