Overheard

July 28, 2011

A conversation, as I boarded the elevator down to the lobby in search of lunch today.

I got on in front of a hiring manager (whom I don’t know) from my company who was holding a clipboard of information, and an interviewee in a fancy suit who was (he thought smoothly but I thought nervously) attempting to make a final lasting impression of being–hey–a swell guy. The hiring manager was seemingly less than impressed. It went something like this:

Interviewee [as the elevator doors open on the 18th floor and we all get in]: “Man, something smells goooood downstairs.” [laughs for no reason]

Hiring manager: “………..yep. Not bad.” [we begin our descent]

Interviewee: “That’s, uh, another reason; I’d love to just work in the Loop. It’s just got to be so much better than Schaumberg. Nothing to do out there, you know? [clearly searching for common ground] It’s just terrible.”

Hiring manager: “……yeah, it’s probably….the best place to work in the city. The Loop.”

Interviewee: “Yeah, tell me about it. Tell me about it… Where do you live again, in the city?”

Hiring manager: “I don’t. I live in Barrington. …Right next to Schaumberg.”

Interviewee [suddenly more optimistically]: “Oh. …Yeah, alright, alright, well–” [door opens]

Hiring manager: “Well, thanks, and have a nice day. Your way out is to the right.”

Lovely. I think there’s nothing that amuses me more than other people’s awkwardness sometimes. I was just glad I got to be there for it. It was like my 30-second theatre break.

Really bet he gets that job…

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Office funny.

October 15, 2009

social awkwardness

I have written on this topic before when I was keeping a half-assed Myspace blog.

There is funny, and there is “office funny.”

Funny is an adjective for when something is humorous, often evoking laughter and merriment among the people who are in on it. “Office funny” is an adjective for nearly the opposite. You see, the people who are in on the “office funny” comment often erupt into laughter, only not merriment. More of a feeling of compulsion to laugh collectively without any idea as to why, and with a self-loathing aftertaste to it. The desire to smack one’s self in the face afterward often accompanies such hollow office laughter. Because “office funny” is not funny at all. It’s horrid and asinine. It’s usually a mundane observation that has no humorous intent at all or, more commonly, a regurgitation of some trite phrase that loosely fits the situation. And then everyone has to laugh. Has to. It’s the rules.

I believe this is most often observed in three places—the restroom, the kitchenette or water cooler, and in front of the elevator. Places where people have to congregate with others in their office with whom they have next to nothing in common and, very likely, disdain greatly while still knowing very little about them.

I walked into an example today in the ladies’ room. There were too many ladies vying for the three sinks at our disposal. This creates psychological panic in polite social situations, for some fantastically peculiar reason. The people feel the need to make small talk commentary on it, whether or not it makes sense.

Lady 1: “Wow, looks like this place is really hopping today.”

Lady 2: “Guess it’s the place to be. The place to beeeee noticed.”

Ladies 1, 3, and 4 laugh as if something worthwhile was said by Lady 2; all feel an inward loathing as they leave the bathroom with awkward smiles.

Like, what on Earth does that even mean? Even to the lady who said it, who—I imagine—is sitting at her desk dying a little inside right now, I guarantee has no idea what it means or why she said it. I actually somehow had the good sense to not laugh, but rather to turn swiftly around on my heel and exit, looking down. If I had made any eye contact whatsoever, I’d have been pulled onto the unnecessary chortle fest bandwagon. That’s the key, though. Eyes down, tread ground like you mean business.Save