I try to adhere to a very live and live philosophy, especially in the office. In past positions, I’ve managed to cohabitate in offices rather amicably with the Queen of Over-share, the Never-ending Apartment Searcher, and Ms. I Don’t Always Take My Ritalin Before Coming to Work. I was even (mostly) able to deal with I Can’t Be Bothered to Do My Own Work, so Why Don’t You Do It for Me. Her extreme malaise, while frustrating in the abstract (how does this woman get paid?!), was acceptable as long as kept to herself in her inordinate free time and allowed me to do both of our jobs.
Of late, though, it seems my customary reserve is forsaking me. Office ticks and personalities that shouldn’t bother me have begun to inspire intricate and whimsical homicidal fantasies, à la 9 to 5. I suspect this is the result of working with the same persons 12 hours a day, 7 days a week. The unremitting proximity mutates one from co-worker to captive audience, and I’ve started to loathe people while still realizing they don’t deserve it.
Among the idiosyncratic personalities I should find endearing, the first I wanted to throttle was the Conspiracy Theorist. Let me say it here for the record: the MMR vaccine does not cause Autism, and there is not some collusion between Big Pharma, the CDC, and the WHO to obscure that it does. He reminds me of an ex who was a vehement climate change denier (the earth isn’t warming – it’s just solar flairs! We broke up for different reasons, but that didn’t help) or an old coffee shop patron who maintain AIDS was created by the CIA and then unleashed on Africa by the Chinese in a kind of global Tuskegee experiment (words do not describe). There is also the oddly pro-Obama Birther, who read Obama Nation and thought it had some valid points, but still plans to vote for him in the next election. For some time, I was able to successfully resist being drawn into the discussion only to be broken by the assertion that ‘they didn’t use type-face like that in ’65; I mean, it looks nothing like mine.” Where were you born? Ah, New York. And in 1959! I can see where the two should be identical. We pulled up Obama’s certificate on-line (this was before Corporate put up Hadrian’s Firewall when we could do such things. Now even Wikipedia and the Official US Clock are verboten) and it was declared an ‘obvious fake’. After well over an hour of increasingly heated debate, I declared the topic taboo until my interlocutor could should me a contemporary Hawaiian birth certificate that looked significantly different.
There’s also the Belligerent Braggart, who can’t help but daily crow about his wayward bar-fighting youth, the handful of aspiring Afghan Idol contestants, and the two who have decided the best way to get my attention is to slide behind me and shake my chair. The closest I’ve come to loosing it, though, was at an Army captain who oversees several linguists. I could probably choose better subjects for my wrath, but he began griping about the sensitivity of American women and the hyper-political correctness demanded by the Service. When I asked for an example, he explained that it would be fine to tell one of his male soldiers to stop being an asshole, but if he tried to tell one of the women to stop being a bitch, he be disciplined for sexual harassment. Oh, the horror – this ‘new Army’ has gone soft and is no doubt doomed to ruin, what with its stigmatization of overtly gender-specific belittlements. My heart bleeds for him.
Possibly the quirkiest tick I’ve noticed, and among the most obnoxious, is that co-workers seem to prefer to talk when no one else is around. Several in the office will wait until it’s late in the evening, or for others to go to the bathroom or for a smoke, before sidling up to the file cabinets walling in my desk or dropping into the chair opposite, only to spew inanities about dominance games with their Bengal tiger or obnoxious B-Hut mate or why I should really consider seeing Twilight (not a joke. My refusal to do so apparently renders me incapable of affection).
I’m not certain whether my compatriots are lonely or simply need human interaction to thrive. While the latter definitely doesn’t apply to me (always having tended toward the introvert side of the spectrum), my solution to the former is to become a hermit and dive into my work (being an introvert might have something to do with this). This is most especially true late in the evening, when I’m either still in the office to finish up some pressing work and really just want to get to bed, or so I can chat with friends in the States at a better time for them. Regardless of the rational, it is almost never the ideal time to chit chat. Occasionally I think they’re just killing time to ensure that I don’t walk home alone, as at least once a week I’m asked where my battle buddy is.
Oddly enough, the only time I actually felt a buddy was necessary was in the office itself. Alone in the office with a co-worker, he tried to exact a hugging ‘toll’, blocking the only exit. Happily, he’s since been transferred to a difference base. I have a suspicion that the situation might well have escalated with some negative consequences if he’d hung about. The incident did prompt me to augment my perennial battle buddy – Jesus – with another – namely, Mace. The three of us are thick as thieves, and run in a tight pack.
In the recent past, I wasn’t quite so on edge. Unfortunately, December saw the vast majority of my non-work friends rip out. While I’m happy for them, I find myself without any companions of my choosing. I suppose that I’ll need to make some new ones at some point, but it’s never been one of my ready talents. If I fail to do so, however, I might well flip out at a co-worker. In general, work just seems to be getting harder to stomach. In addition to the loss of access to 90% of the internet, a mandated uniform is imminent (polos with the Corporate logo. I hate polos). When’s my leave again?
I would like to apologize for my over-use of capital letters in this post. It appears frustration leads to ill-advised punctuation.