Friday, January 20, 2006

It’s like I’m working with Pete from Pete and Pat

Pooch Cafe by Paul Gilligan

Office banter doesn’t work on everyone. Some people are just too literal. One of my colleagues reminds me of the current president in ‘24’. Our relationship has not been established so it’s hard to interpret his reactions. I’m not sure if he’s dry or if it’s a personal thing. I’d like to think that he doesn’t know me well enough to dislike me but first impressions are lasting and if I somehow rubbed him the wrong way then cie le vie.

I have a sneaky suspicion that most people dislike the office banter. Ok, I dislike office banter. Most prefer being left alone. As much as many hate the cubicle, they enjoy the semi-privacy one receives.

I’ve worked in open offices. I’ve worked in single cell offices. Just like most relationships, there comes a point where the minute details of a person become annoying and almost unbearable.

There is the one who is a slob, the one that is overly exuberant and the one that clips his fingernails during conference calls. There is the one that masks her insecurities by increasing her voice a pitch and speaking sugary to everyone. There is the one that bangs her desk with her foot to the rhythm of any Bruce Springsteen song out there.

When a new person comes into the pack, he/she is usually smiling and trying to look interested. Secretly, they wish they didn’t have to do this horse and pony show and just get down to work. Most people understand this one act play and play along.

Newbies are fresh and see things in a different perspective. They are anxious to learn and adapt to their new environment. They are also excited about their new responsibilities and duties. Forgive them if they are a little over-enthusiastic.

Others are abhorrent to change. They become bitter or just down right annoyed at the newbie. They take it as a personal affront to the status quo. Bloody hell, the first few weeks you’re at a new place you stick your head out of your hole and visit your neighbors. That’s just what you do. You get to know your neighbors. The disenchantment doesn’t hit newbies until after the paycheck arrives. That’s when you begin to tone down the enthusiasm and ease into your little hole of an office. The nod becomes the only form of communication between you and the person sharing the same floor as you.

If I’m being polite and chit chatting with you, there is no need for you to be snide. I’m just telling you that that I’m glad you made it in one piece. The wind outside is fierce. My neighbor’s puggle was swept up like a balloon.

There is no need for you to retort, “Well I’d like to think I wasn’t in mortal peril.” Next time I’ll just stick with “Good morning.”

I know I’m just being cranky. I’m not enjoying this morning routine and to make it even worse, I’m refraining from more than one cup of coffee a week to avoid the 9 cup addiction I had a few years back.

I hate feeling dependent on anything and if I get into the habit of coffee every morning, I’ll only get crankier. It’s a battle. Either outcome only leads to me being cranky. For the love of Pete, when is alcohol consumption at work going to be standard policy?

Addendum: It’s not personal. I just heard a conversation with him and his son and he speaks just as literal to his offspring. “I’m glad I can appear to be helping you because that’s my goal in life…” Plus, I’m not as cranky.