I am a social person. I enjoy interacting with my fellow man. Well at least I used to. Until I started getting reprimanded for innocent conversation.
Once upon a time, interacting with people was one of the most important parts of my job. Actually, every job I have had (save this one) I have had to talk to people, was encouraged to have strong relationships with my co-workers and actually had moments of honest-to-goodness fun in the workplace.
Hard to believe now.
Turns out that you spend most of your waking life with your colleagues (I cannot tell you how depressing this thought is to me) so it makes sense that you would socialize. Obviously you are at work getting paid to perform tasks and duties, but where's the harm in a little chit chat while you're here?
In my office we are arranged into pods of cubicles. We all face away from each other and are surrounded by walls that are taller than most of us. Some of us sit in pods of 2, others in pods of 4. I sit in a pod of two. With Maurice. It has recently come to light that Maurice doesn't even know who Scarlett Johansson is, which quite frankly is not alright. I think you can guess that Maurice and I don't really share any stimulating conversation. Anna says its like talking to a sponge, but I think that's unfair. Sponges absorb things.
Sometimes I have my earphones in and spend the day lip syching happily to the soundtrack of Wicked or enjoying The Noisettes. But sometimes, I take them out in an effort to find out what is going on around me. Sometimes this information takes the form of what others are saying about me (or about other people. there really is nothing like good old fashioned eavesdropping) or what I will do today. And then there are the times when I can hear snippets of genuine conversation. When people in their pods of 4 are able to take a moment out of their day and happily converse with one another about things that are not work related.
I crave these moments.
And I have to live vicariously. Occasionally I try to join in. Most of the time my witty comments don't make it over the walls. When they do, people think I am hilarious. But that doesn't happen nearly often enough.
How have I been relegated to the periphery of my office society?
Once upon a time, Mary Kate and I shared this cubicle pod. And we were happy to be left to our own devices, because no one else ever said anything remotely interesting or funny. But then Mary Kate left, the laughter left with her.
Now, my only interaction is through email. Or instant messsenger (only in the office). And only one of the people is someone that I actually see and work with. The others? Two are on the other side of the inlet, dealing with the crazy people on the front lines. One is in another town, kicking butt and taking names, some are scattered across Europe and Mary Kate is thousands of miles away, pretending to look for a job but mostly just stalking people on facebook, clogging my newsfeed with Social Poll or whatever its called.
How sad, that aside from Anna, all the people that I actually talk to about meaningful day to day happenings (Balloon Boy, the Kardashians, TV from last night and ways to not work here etc) are not people that I actually see. They are people that I talk to all the time, the people that I could not get through the day without, but only one is someone that I work with.
Because really. The people that I work with hired Maurice. And Maurice is a moron.
Plus there is the darker side. The reprimands. Unfortunately I do not have eyes in the back of my head. And I know that John and Amy lurk. They lurk behind me and they are so quiet that half the time I don't hear them come up behind me. I am motivated to keep my social interactions limited to email because of fear. I am afraid that John will come by, see me talking (even if I am still at my desk) and give me a disapproving glance. Or worse, send me an email about "appropriate office conduct" or worst of all: resume our little meetings that accomplish nothing.
I'm all for fear based motivation. I mean, I'm pretty sure that I brushed my teeth and finished my dinner because I was afraid of what my Mom would do to me otherwise (not the face!!!) and look how great I turned out. But while I plan to do it to my kids, I don't feel like being intimidated by my boss. Especially when he is such a tool and as far as I can tell, doesn't really do all that much.
Now before I go to a really dark place, I should update you on how Slap A Co-Worker Day turned out. There was slapping. But the inaugural slap was not administered by me, it was actually administered TO me. So then I had to slap Anna back. I don't think that anyone slapped Veronica, though I'm sure everyone wanted to. And Maurice didn't get it. There was supposed to be a visual representation of how I would have liked it to go, but Anna hasn't finished it because she was drunk all weekend.
When it arrives though, I am going to do my very best (remember, I am completely computer illiterate) to post it on here for your viewing pleasure.