An IT worker took to Reddit to ask WIBTA (Would I Be the A**hole) if they refused to share an office space with a coworker who has Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD).
After a year of enjoying their own work space, Redditor "fhfyu7tfyuthrow" was suddenly working alongside a co-worker with OCD who had a...penchant for rearranging things that did not belong to her.
Because of the new office space arrangement, the Original Poster (OP) became annoyed and reluctant to even go to work.
When they confronted the troublesome coworker about her compulsion, she pleaded with the OP not to mention anything to their boss for fear of getting fired.
But is that the OP's problem?
The OP asked for advice and wrote:
"I work in IT for a large company, so think a basic office setting."
"We have multiple offices for IT personnel and these are set up with desks for 3 people. We get put in these offices by the boss, however we are allowed to switch it around if we want to."
"That is what happened at the start of this year."
"I have had my own office for a year prior as we have several offices for a few people as such only one office has 3 people, another 2 and the other 3 one."
The OP was dismayed to discover a switch-up with work stations.
"However a month ago 'Janine' requested to switch offices and had asked to be put in mine, no clue why. We talk but we are not close. Regardless I wasn't happy but it was not my place to disagree."
"So she 'moved in' and the trouble started rapidly. She told me she suffers from OCD so needs everything a certain way."
"I figured this was fine as I am very organized, however the next day she had reorganized everything in the office, including things in and on my desk."
"I chewed her out over it as I don't want someone to go through my stuff regardless what the reason is. The next few weeks she was making an issue out of everything from the way my coffee cup was standing to how my screen was tilted."
"Regardless I suffered through it but admittedly getting more and more annoyed."
"Up until last week that is, she again reorganized stuff and went through my desk drawers, moved the stuff on my desk etc."
After losing much patience, it was time for the OP to confront the intrusive coworker.
"As such I told her I was going to ask to switch offices as I was not comfortable being around someone who does not respect privacy and doesn't listen when I ask her not to do something."
"At first she got mad, but she quickly started pleading with me not to do it as it'd involve going through my boss and she apparently got a load of complaints and is on her last chance, as such any further issues may cost her, her job."
"So I refrained from it last week, but as it stands, last year I liked going to work, enjoyed work etc. But these last months I have been annoyed, reluctant to go to work etc, so I sort of want to switch offices, I'd honestly rather get my own office back."
Redditors were able to identify the problematic situation and decided the OP was NTA (Not the A**hole).
"NTA, it's not your job to cater to her, and she went through your personal belongings, which is the bottom line."
"We all try to work together, but her OCD is interfering with her job to a degree, because it involves your own things, so that's it's own issue for her and management to deal with, not you."
"Hopefully you both can find a good path that doesn't affect one another's work happiness." – Historyinpeanuts
Commenters familiar with OCD were also able to recognize that a line was crossed and sided with the OP.
"OP, you're NTA. I am a diagnosed sufferer of OCD, and going through your things was completely inappropriate and out of line. If she gets fired, that's because of her own behavior."
"It's not on you to accommodate her. She needs to get help if it's that much of an issue and interfering with her work to this degree." – jezzyuolo
"I have also been diagnosed with OCD and I can't imagine why it compels her to go through someone else's private stuff."
"But even if it is she's clearly not managing her condition properly, which is completely her own responsibility." – DoubtfulChilli
"My mom has OCPersonalityD, and she'd absolutely go through all the things."
"The key defining trait that differs between the two is that people with OCD are generally aware that the compulsions and obsessions aren't socially acceptable and can be very embarrassed about them."
"People with OCPD frequently feel their compulsions are what everyone should feel and fail to understand why they should change their behaviors."
"They get treatment when their friends and family get so upset with them that it is unavoidable or because they want to address their relatives inability to comply."
"What stands out to me in this story is that the coworker isn't scared because OP is upset, but because she is going to get in trouble."
"She doesn't see her actions as problematic even though she's aware there will be consequences. She sees her behavior as 'fixing' OP's things, not meddling or overstepping." – TragedyPornFamilyVid
Some people with behavioral disorders are able to manage themselves better than others.
"Not all people with personality disorders completely lack awareness."
"I have BPD, I work really hard to stay well and stop myself from doing destructive behaviors. I'm on meds, in therapy and actively working on staying well and not being a problem to other people or myself." – sweetprince686
"It's not a lack of awareness, but of ability."
"You're working really hard and having good progress, and that's fantastic. Strong work!"
"That said, a person can be aware that what they're doing is really effed up and will invite social censure and still be unable to stop from doing it. They can also be aware of all the consequences but disagree that there should be those consequences."
"Personally, I have PTSD. I'm well aware that I'm safe enough, not facing immediate threats to my life, health, or safety, but... While that helps, it's still not going to keep me from crying like a baby in response to certain sings."
"It's humiliation, and I can know it's socially unacceptable, but that doesn't mean I have the ability to stop. I have the ability to find a quiet corner or leave or cry very quietly." – TragedyPornFamilyVid
"Still she shouldn't be making other peoples work life miserable."
"If the job needs her very much the bosses can rearrange the office assignment so that she has a single office, there seems to be some wriggle room (more shared by 3)."
"Or if they don't need her this much, they let her go and she has to figure out how to make herself employable. It's her problem not OP's." – Draigdwi
The OP was given suggestions on how to properly deal with reporting the vexing coworker.
"Personality Disorders are a whole different beast with different treatments and the person has to be very committed to getting well and understanding their disorder."
"This is rare with just mental health disorders, like depression and anxiety. Imagine having a mountain to climb to get better that's the size of Mt. Everest. It's hard."
"OP, NTA. I feel your pain here and it's valid. Be as kind as you can while advocating for your own boundaries." – lori-writes
"If she has a diagnosed condition I think OP should ask for an apology, let her know that if it happens again OP will report, and suggest that she seek medical treatment or counseling."
"If it's a self diagnosed thing OP should report her for being rude violating OP's personal space and privacy." – PhteveJuel
"If it's diagnosed, then it's management that should be dealing with it, not OP, and reporting would throw it in their court."
"Why is an officemate more responsible for her condition than HR and management?"
"If OP wants to express concerns that management needs to factor in medical/mental/psychological ramifications, OP can. But it seems Janine has already gotten her second chance and failed."
"A third would just frazzle OP's nerves and delay the inevitable." – mbbaer
"It's not OP's job to distinguish between diagnosed and undiagnosed, though, and it's not his job to take responsibility for her treatment. It's her job to seek out the accommodations she needs." – pm_me_your_molars
Redittor "itzagoff" summed it up succinctly.
"NTA. Mental illness or any other impairment/disability is not a free pass to do whatever the f'k you want in life."
In the meantime, getting desk locks seems like a good idea.