Jeremy's Ramblings, Babblings, and Other Pretentious Bullshit.
Thursday, September 02, 2004
There are certain things about working in an office that fill me with a rage that is both very strong and yet very reserved. It's not the kind of anger that is usually held for revelations like, "You've been screwing around behind my back with WHO?" or "You invaded Iraq for WHAT reason?" But it's the kind of anger that makes you understand to a certain degree why people of less mental stability participate in office shootings.
It's amazing how many cliches exist in one small area. You would think that people would realize that they have so embraced their personality stereotypes to a degree that they have become a joke. I'm fortunate enough to be filed into two simultaneous ones: The Film Geek and The Gay Theatre Fan. However, I attempt to transcend these two labels by, respectively, talking only about mainstream films in the office - refusing to go in-depth - and by not being gay. But this sort of self-recognition is beyond others here. The following are three types of cliches that you will find at every office. Lord knows I've found them in mine:
* The Baby Seekers - Those who have recently given birth like to show off their new additions at the office. This is something I would make fun of, but I advertise the plays and musicals I'm involved with, unabashedly tacking the postcards up on every open space I can find, so teasing the Baby Displayers would be hypocritical. However, the Baby Seekers are another lot. Most often, they do not have children, or do not like them. So, the smallest coo of an infant puts a sparkle in their eye. They throw their work to the side, bolt from their seat, and - leaving a cloud of dust in the shape of their body - rush over to take a look at the child, who no doubt is scared shitless to see so many strange faces staring at him. The Baby Seekers have their meetings (held, of course, whenever some one brings a baby) and it consists of several women and one man, always just one man, no matter where I go. Their simultaneous coo's and "aww"'s form a sort of symphony that is quite grating.
* The Office Redneck - This is perhaps the most inexplicable of cliches. Here is a man, always a man, no matter where I go, who cannot even hide his redneck qualities behind a shirt and tie. Their hair, posture, and blank stare is enough to clue you in. Then they open their mouth, and out comes the Redneck accent. This is excusable in places like Montana or Alabama, where backwoods actually exist. However, in Southern California, an oasis of business and beaches, the accent is mysterious and unwarranted. The first order of business of the Office Redneck upon getting hired is to befriend a boss with his "oh, you lovable lug" antics (a lot of innocent "who me?" shrugging is involved with being the Office Redneck). This way, he can accomplish such amazing feats like demeaning women without getting fired. That, besides the accent, is the main characteristic of the Office Redneck: his lowered view of the female race. He will be the first to send you amusing pornographic images via e-mail, such as the Flintstones having an orgy. He knows the names and locations of all of the Gentlemen's Clubs in a ten-mile radius (am I the only one to find it odd that those places are called Gentlemen's Clubs when gentlemen are the last thing you'll find there?), which he frequents while drinking American beer (simply because its American, even though it tastes bad). The women that they date are not intelligent (how could they be if they're attracted to sliminess and a middle-class paycheck?), and they are seen not as human beings, but as conquests in the way that giant waves are to surfers, or largemouth bass are to fishermen.
* The Judges - These are the most vile of the office cliches. These people are characterized with pursed lips, arched eyebrows, and intense eyes. They look around at those around them, scrutizing their every word and movement. The skirt that's too short, the shirt that isn't ironed, the head the bounces too much to the music. These do not go unnoticed by the Judgers. When a Judges is a fellow co-worker, they come off as simply pathetic as they complain about you taking two donuts (something I do every Friday and was told that an anonymous Judge had complained about before being told that it didn't really matter, since they were only, you know, two donuts). When the Judge is a manager, however, they can become quite dangerous. Soon, their piercing stare sends shivers down your spine as you fear that your job is now in jeopardy due to the wrinkles in your shirt (unless of course you are the Office Redneck, in which case you are invincible). They walk around, looking at every desk, just begging for something with which they can flex their authority.
I dealt indirectly with one of the manager Judges around here. I noticed my keyboard was wobbling, due to one of the back legs disappearing in what can only be a war wound. Around the same time, I noticed that there was a box of spare keyboards laying around. I soon started taking the spare keyboards, plugging them into my computer and seeing if they were an improvement. Rarely have I been disappointed so many times in such a short amount of time. The keys are too hard to press, the caps lock won't turn off, pressing "Enter" blows up a small portion of Azerbaijan. Every keyboard had something wrong with it. As I brought the last keyboard to my desk, holding it under my arm, I pass by the manager Judge, who we will call "Carl", mainly because I don't know enough Carl's.
Upon locking eyes with him, I suddenly saw what I must have looked like to Carl. A young man, shirt not ironed, hair not very neatly combed, walking around with a keyboard that obviously was not his. Suspicious, to say the least. I quickly hastened back to my desk, plugging in the final disappointment (the spacebar was at a very distracting angle). I finally decide to stick with the old keyboard, putting a Sobe cap under the wobbly part (why didn't I just think of that before and save myself all the trouble?).
Suddenly, Carl starts walking by. Is he going to say something to me? He walks past...toward my manager! This is it, start packing up. Carl's going to squeal that I'm stealing office property, and - not having redneck qualities - I won't be allowed to defend myself with even a shrug. Ladies and gentlemen, is this the end of Jeremy's two-and-a-half year tenure at First American?
Carl walks up to my manager, points out that the stack of business cards on his monitor is against the new regulations, and then leaves, using his radar to find other minor violations to enforce.
I sit at my desk, staring at the posters of my shows that line the walls of my cubicle. I feel encouraged that my cliches only bring annoyance to my co-workers (something along the lines of "Yes, we KNOW you're in a one-man show. I've only heard about it fifty freaking THOUSAND times!!!"), and that I'm not perceived as a threat to anyone. Perhaps that means I won't get shot.
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