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The seven highly annoying habits of boardroom prawns

A meme that has been doing the rounds, where rude and obnoxious cyclists are insultingly called prawns. You know the type, they walk into the café while still wearing their cycling helmets and shoes, the salt from their evaporated sweat powdering their neck and shaven calves.

I approve. Life is littered with prawns, and all deserve shaming. These days, I’ve been rather preoccupied with the louts who can’t seem to behave themselves in meetings. As a rule, meetings suck and there are any number of places I’d rather be than there. These people exacerbate my misery by being uncouth, unmannered and a very unwelcome distraction when my attention should be focused on giving the right answers so I can evacuate the meeting as soon as possible.

Is it too much to ask for a measure of decorum, even in the truly uncomfortable setting of a business meeting?

Apparently, yes. Well, I’ve had it. I’m up to here with board room prawns, and no doubt are you. Your office probably has one (it’s invariably men, isn’t it), and he’s gotten up your nose more times than you care to tell. You’ve been sorely tempted to viciously kick him on the shin, only you’ve been afraid you might catch the Boss’s knee instead. Well, let the masses cry, “No More!”

I’ve made a list of the seven most annoying prawn habits I’ve endured. It’s far from complete. Feel free to add to it:

  • Picks his eyes during the meeting. You know, what you’re supposed to do at home, in the privacy of your bathroom. Siff, man. Don’t you have a mirror at home?
  • Can’t seem to sit properly in a chair, regardless of how comfortable the chair might be.
  • Laughs at none of the jokes. Laughs at all the jokes. What are you trying to do, Joe, lighten the mood? What you’re doing is about as useful as having a barbershop quartet at a hanging.
  • Takes his shoes off during the meeting. Someone told me a ghastly story — apparently a certain board chairman cut his toenails through a meeting. I hope it isn’t true, but I fear it probably is.
  • Makes a great show of switching his Samsung E250 off. Or simply doesn’t, thereby startling everyone when his pathetic Samsung ringtone sounds off, loudly.
  • Fiddles with the stationary. Nothing can be worse than the clickclickclickclick sound some prawns make with a Bic pen. Stop it, just stop it.
  • Plays with the air con remote control. A plague be upon him.

You. Prawn. Enough, already. And remember, we’re watching you.


  • Sipho Hlongwane

    Sipho Hlongwane is a journalist and columnist for the Daily Maverick. He is an avid fan of jelly beans, Top Gear, Arsenal and thinks that South Africans tend to take themselves a little too seriously. [email protected]