Observing the people at work, I realize I must not be starved for attention. Either that, or some people just really enjoy talking.
One fellow I haven’t introduced is the lonely coder. Originally from Florida and the 80’s, the lonely coder moved out here for high-end programming jobs. Apparently, he now lives alone with his Corvette and feathered hair. He keeps up on all the latest news and happenings, and eagerly looks forward to discussing them with the only people he ever sees – his coworkers.
Every day, he wanders through the halls, on the prowl for someone to talk to. He walks slowly down the aisle, probing people with questions like “Hey, how’s it going?” Or, “Hey, what’s up?”
If you turn to look at him, or are not otherwise engrossed in some all-consuming task, and respond to his question, he reels you in with indepth, open-ended follow-up questions. “Oh yeah, why’s that?”
I’ve had some formal training in conversation, having been a missionary, taken classes in college, and having been put through some professional training by my employers, yet this guy’s skills far outstrip my own. Lonely Coder does it all so naturally, you won’t even realize what’s going on until you realize you’ve been cornered in the breakroom for 45 minutes. “Hey, what do you think about the North Korea missile launch?”
Luckily, I have noise-cancellation headphones, and very verbose coworkers. I wear the headphones during the hours that Lonely Coder is active, and my coworkers are usually all-too happy to stand around chatting for hours on end.
Also aggressive for attention is the Falling Apart Old Lady. I’d place her age somewhere in the late 50’s or early 60’s. She’s the company’s only administrative assistant, so she does all the paperwork, mail handling, ordering of supplies, and she keeps the breakroom stocked. She’s built like a barrel, with wispy-thinned white hair, and cheeks that connect directly to her collarbone. One of her favorite facial expressions is the ironic smile/nod, in which she purses her lips, googles her eyes, and nods her head quickly, sending waves rippling down her loose fatty neck.
She has a sister in Oregon, and a bunny at home, and no other human contact aside from what she gets at work. She’s kept the lobby Poinsetta alive for a year and a half. When I’m wearing my noise-cancellation headphones, she’ll ask me how well they work, complain about all the noise around her cubicle, declare that she need some, and then do the ironic nod. Other times, she’ll come and tell me a story about her garden, bunny, or hybrid car.
And then she’ll tell the next person that comes by. And then the next person after that. And then she’ll wander off to find someone else to tell.
And to me, that takes all the specialness out of sharing an experience with someone. At first, I was like, Aw, this is so special, she just shared some personal experience with me. But then she blabs the same story to everyone else she sees. When I have something to say, I’ll tell it to maybe one or two people. If I want to tell someone something, it’ll be something that I want to talk to that person about. I don’t think I ever go about telling everyone I see about something I’ve done, or that’s happened to me. Perhaps that is why this blog is so sparse; it’s hard enough thinking up something to write about, much less go through the effort of typing it up.
But in any case, I don’t look forward to work as the one place I can get all my chatting in and tell all my stories to a near-captive audience. Heck, putting up with all the chatty yackers is one of the things I dread each day!
So, I’d just like to thank my family and friends for keeping me from turning out like the people I
work with… but don’t be surprised if I never say so.