My Week 143: Awkwardness at Work, 2 Quick Tales

I am sometimes awkward at work

Anyone who knows me (or visits this site frequently) knows that I can be a little awkward around other people. I quite often misinterpret the things other people say, mostly because in my head, life is like a Monty Python sketch, which is to say it’s weird, and funny, and quite often self-referential, like if you haven’t watched the show before, you might not understand the joke. For instance, the other day, I was going through some materials with a co-worker, looking for common patterns, when another colleague walked in and asked, “Have you found anything?”

“Well,” I answered, “it could be something, or it could just be a case of a million monkeys with a million typewriters.”

“Writing the bible. Right,” replied my colleague. And I so badly wanted to say, “Ah, you’ve seen this episode before,” but I didn’t, because that would be pushing my luck. And also, I wanted to hug her, because mostly when I say that, people think I’m either obsessed with monkeys, or don’t like the Bible. Not that I actually LIKE the Bible—I’m kind of ambivalent towards it, like if I was to review it, I would probably say something like “Choppy style, but interesting plot. A little too preachy for this critic. 3 out of 5 stars.”

Anyway, recently I got promoted, so I’ve gone from being able to wallow in my comfort zone to being right out there in the spotlight. And it’s hella uncomfortable. In work situations, I normally like to sit and listen, just observe, and I only say something if I think it’s important. In my head, I like to think I’m perceived thusly: “She doesn’t speak very often, but when she does, we all should listen.” Unfortunately, the reality is probably more like, “What the hell is she talking about NOW? It’s always monkeys, monkeys, monkeys.”

But since the promotion, when I’m in meetings, instead of just being able to sit there, listen, and make notes, I’m REQUIRED to speak. And it’s usually when I least expect it.

Director: And then the 4th quarter targets….
Other Director: The memo about this requires a decision note…
Chair: And now for a report from mydangblog.
Me: What?! I…We are an EFFECTIVE team.

You can tell that I was lost in thought, going through Tom Cruise movies in my head. Thank goodness I was stuck at Oblivion, and not Jerry Macguire, because “Show me the money!” might not have gone over as well. (Just for the record, they don’t actually call me ‘mydangblog’ at work, but it would be super-funny if they did.) And the other day, we were having a high up meeting, and we were told not to let people into the office without escorts, because it IS a secret agency, and there are a lot of confidential materials in the office that are not for the public’s eye. “In fact,” said one of the Directors, “this came about because last week, we discovered that a former employee was in the office, and no one knew about it.”

Me: What?! You mean, like, for days? Was he hiding somewhere? I KNEW we needed to clean up that storage room!
Director: No. He was only here for a couple of hours. He wasn’t hiding—he just wasn’t being escorted by the person who let him in.
Me: Oh, good, because otherwise that would have been REALLY disconcerting.
Director: Yes. Sigh.

Now that I’m a manager, I’m also responsible for a budget. And it’s a HUGE f*cking budget. When I was a high school department head, my total budget was $12 000, and I was responsible for every penny. I had an Excel spreadsheet with two columns: ‘What I Have’ and ‘What I Spent’. My only job was to make sure that ‘What I Spent’ was never more than ‘What I Have’. When I first saw my new budget, I was completely freaked out, and my first thought was, “I’m gonna need a bigger spreadsheet.” So I asked to have a meeting with the Manager of Finance:

Me: So I’m a little concerned about how I’m supposed to keep track of all this.
Finance Manager: Keep track?
Me: Well, there are over 200 budget lines with like another 500 sublines. Does the spreadsheet you sent me automatically calculate debits or do I have to do that manually? I think I should probably pin the calculator to the task bar if that’s the case, cuz this is gonna take a LOT of time.
Finance Manager: Uh, no. This is just ‘for your information’. We have a whole department that deals with budget calculations.
Me: Oh. OK. Cool.

And speaking of cool, the person who had my office before me had a big-ass fan. Me, I’m always cold, so I haven’t used it yet, but last week it was getting pretty hot, so I decided to turn it on.

Step 1) Plug fan in and press ‘Power’ button.
Step 2) Hold hand up in front of fan to see how cold the air is.
Step 3) Look at fan skeptically.
Step 4) Change the setting to high and place hand in front of fan again.
Step 5) Look at fan skeptically.
Step 6) Change setting to “Oscillate” and place hand in front of fan again.
Step 7) Turn fan off and then back on.
Step 8) Realize that fan is not a computer and that turning it off and on again made no difference.
Step 9) Pick up fan to shake it and discover that fan is facing backwards.
Step 10) Turn fan around so that it is no longer blowing cold air at the wall.

And finally, the coup de grace of my awkward week:

I work with a very nice gentleman about my own age. On Wednesday, I was having trouble with my computer, so I went over to his desk. He’s lucky, in that he has a window, but also unlucky, in that it looks right over into the highrise building next door. I was in the middle of a conversation with him when this happened:

Me: So are you having trouble with your drives? I can’t get anything to load.
Colleague: No, mine seem–
Me: Holy sh*t! There’s a girl in that window and she’s completely naked!
Colleague (clears throat): Oh, gosh. Anyway–
Me: No, seriously. Good lord! Okay, now she’s putting on underwear. Doesn’t she know we can see her?!
Colleague: Um, I actually can’t from where I’m sitting. So, have you tried restarting your com–
Me: She’s right there! Just stand up a little bit!
Colleague: No, that’s OK.

So I stood there for a little while longer until the girl was dressed and gone. It wasn’t until later that I realized that the poor guy was probably mortified and all like “Can’t we just talk about monkeys?!” And now, I feel terrible for trying to make him look at naked ladies . But probably not as terrible as the girl would be, if she knew that she can be seen in all her glory from our office windows.

Two Quick Stories:

Crazy for Adjectives:

Right now, I’m going through resumes for a position I’m hiring for. The one notable thing is that people really go a little overboard with their superlatives. Either that, or they REALLY want to work with me. I started making a list of things that people say that will not get them a foot in the door. First, there are the people who are ‘delighted’ to be applying for the position. These people are also possessed of ‘great enthusiasm’, as well as ‘great eagerness’. Then there are the people who are ‘extremely knowledgeable’ and are ‘highly adept’. Finally, there are those who tell me that ‘As you can see’, they will be an ‘excellent addition’ and a ‘valuable member’. Then I got the feeling that maybe they all thought they were applying for a position as “puppy petter” or “ice cream truck client”. I mean, my office is a great place to work, but it’s no kitten farm, so dial it back a notch, Skippy.

Nickels and Dimes:

I was on the train Friday night, and we were sitting in the station waiting to depart, when the guy in the seat across the aisle from me suddenly starting talking VERY LOUDLY to someone on his cellphone. It was his bank. He was angry because he had paid for something by cheque from his line of credit which he rarely did, and he was charged a service fee, which he had NEVER been charged before. Then he gave the person on the other end his account number and the answer to his secret question, AND the dollar amount of the cheque, which was $2, 226.00 and I was like, “That service charge must have been huge for him to do this in front of everyone”, and also “I could totally hack his account”, at which point, he said, “It was twenty-five cents. I don’t understand why I’m being charged to use my line of credit. I want it credited back to my account immediately.” I actually snickered out loud at how serious and pissy he was. Then the train left the station and he was quiet for a while, so I assumed the bank’s customer service representative told him he was silly, and to go away. But suddenly, after about 10 minutes, I heard him say, “Yes,” and I realized he was STILL on the phone. Then he said, “Thank you. I hope this never happens again.” I just love that the customer service rep. kept him on hold for so long, hoping that he would hang up. Yet, he persisted.

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24 thoughts on “My Week 143: Awkwardness at Work, 2 Quick Tales

  1. The applicants must be regular readers of your blog and that’s why they’re so excited to work with you. Either that or they’ve heard how much nudity they’ll see. And I thought everyone had heard the one about a thousand monkeys at a thousand typewriters. Anyway I’d be delighted to work with you. What I’m saying is, you had me at “The memo about this requires a decision note”.
    And thank you for the reminder of a time many years ago when my father got a cheque from the phone company for twenty-five cents. He took it into the bank and said, “Could I get this all in nickels?”

    • Starts working with me then whispers “There’s so much nudity…I was promised monkeys.” I also forgot the story about the meeting that where people just argue that the percentage on the pie chart isn’t accurate. Every week. I love that your dad did that, but of course that many years ago, it was probably worth at least 2 bucks.

  2. Love this post from you. I have a big personality with a weird sense of humour, and I feel like I keep it under wraps 90% of the time I’m out of the house. It takes me a long time to trust someone enough to unleash that version of me on them, and if I find a kindred spirit, it feels like a windfall. Don’t stop being awkward. The world needs more weirdness.

    • Thanks! Sometimes I sit at work and think, “If they only knew…” Luckily, I work with some pretty great people who are pretty accepting of whatever comes out of my mouth!

  3. Thanks to you bringing up Tom Cruise, when you said a former employee was loose in the office I imagined someone sneaking in with a Ziploc baggie of eyeballs a la Minority Report. I’m really glad that’s not the case because that would mean your security team is just as bad as the idiots at PreCrime who apparently aren’t smart enough to think to take a friggin’ wanted man’s iris scans off the list of approved personnel.

    Yes, this still bothers me after 15 years.

    • There are so many things about Tom Cruise that bother me, but I DO like Jack Reacher–I’m totally with you on the eyeball thing though. It’s like in Alien Covenant when I kept screaming, “Don’t look in the egg! Have you learned nothing from all the other Alien movies?!” Then Ken reminded me that it was a prequel. But still, who the hell looks right into an alien egg that’s pulsing?!

  4. Would ‘I THINK YOU ARE HILARIOUS’ get me the job?! OMG, this whole post is amazing and I actually really do want to work with you. Like a whole lot!! You are perfectly awkward and a total hoot! And dude, it was 25 cents, loosen your ginch! I hope the CSR was filing his or her nails while he sat there stewing about his precious quarter. *insert eye roll* Thanks for the laugh!

  5. hehehe As i was reading this post, I was hearing a familiar chant… “Bring out cha dead!” followed by “But I ain’t dead yet.”
    Then as though you were anticipating this very thing, you lead me right to the typical applicants to whom this exact scenario would apply to. Pretty sure the ones claiming “But I aint dead yet” are the same ones that are delighted to be and eager addition to the valuable team…

  6. Congratulations on the promotion! Condolences on having to speak up more. I picture you in meetings as if you’re the knight that just won’t quit no matter how bad it gets or how many limbs he loses. Keep up the moxy!

  7. You and I have to have been best friends in a former life! I’m happy we get to be blog friends in this one. I would be otherworldly-orbit level delighted to work for you too!

  8. Your posts are always a ‘delight’. I always read them with ‘great enthusiasm’! But seriously, you seem like such a funny person to be around! I had a good laugh about the naked girl but also felt sorry for her. I don’t think she knows you can see her. (the dreadful thought of it)
    And I hope you have another great week!

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