But it isn’t all bad. It isn’t hard at all (though this is one of the frustrations), and even though I’m a terrible reporter (bad at interviews for reasons listed below), I get away with a lot because I write very quickly and moderately well. The pay is low, but considering the effort I actually put into it, fair.
I have dental.
And yet I’m constantly annoyed by coworkers who, for the most part, are actually really good people. It makes me appreciate Autumn all the more, because while we have our little foibles (she occasionally leaves things out, I’m an unmitigated ass), we rarely get really frustrated by any of it, and if we do it quickly blows over. At work, however, every little habit runs icy rusted spikes along my nerves.
So, in my typical sophomoric revenge-fueled manner, I am fighting back. I’ve purposefully, if subconsciously, been developing a series of terrible habits so people leave me the hell alone. This is bad because 1. I really wish I was nicer, but discovering the stupid stuff I do all day that I never did before proves I’m not and 2. It isn’t working.
I am antisocial. I never realized it before, I actually thought I was a big talker up until recently. I realized I’m actually a quiet son of a bitch. I have chatty moments, but mostly I just listen and think loudly. This was quite a shock to me, this epiphany of the obvious. I really don’t like talking.
This was quickly followed up with the discovery of the things I have been doing to cope with forced social interaction. All my life I have been polite, not out of the goodness of my heart, but as a coping mechanism. It gives me an air of a considerate listener (And that’s why all the hos and bitches in college cried on my shoulders!) instead of an angsty loner.
Lately, the friendly, talkative work environment here that I thought I craved has exacerbated my problem. In radio and television I sat in a both, alone, and talked into a stick—I can talk to myself just fine, doesn’t bother me a bit. In college, everyone thought I was insane, and, arguably, I was, so it didn’t really matter how I acted. At The County Press there was too much underlying stress and hate to really be bothered by others. The County Line Reminder was so small (four people in a bedroom-sized office) I didn’t have to speak to my coworkers thanks to sheer awkwardness.
But now, at personable LA View, people are always staggering over, leaning in close, and then vomiting a half-digested anecdote all over my desk. It’s awful, but not really at all enough for me to respond the way I do:
- “Popping” my mouth whenever I blink.
- Cleaning my nails (which are already clean or cut to the quick) with staples, pen caps, paper clips or my knife when people are talking to me.
- Staring blankly for a few minutes and then saying “What are you talking about?”
- Delaying my responses a second to long for comfort, but just short of outright rude.
- If asked the same question more than once (e.g. “Can you do X? Are you sure? You’re not to busy? I can give it to someone else. . .) I respond with the exact same answer I gave the first time, doing my best to preserve speed and intonation, like a record skipping. (“Yes, I’ll do it right after I finish Y. Yes, I’ll do it right after I finish Y. Yes, I’ll do it right after I finish Y. Yes, I’ll do it right after I finish Y.”)
- Whenever the discussion ventures towards anecdotal I either A. share something inappropriate and uncomfortable or B. share something quite interesting, but walk away while I’m talking and then trail off.
- Am horribly sarcastic and cruel to stupid questions. (“Jim said X? I just heard him say X. He said X?” “Yes, and he wants to slash your tires and sleep with your wife, but don’t tell him I told you.”)
- If cornered, ask even stupider questions than my colleagues. (“What is this thing?” “… My pig calendar?” “You can write appointments in these little boxes? Are these dates accurate? Today is March?”)
If all else fails, out-digress them and derail the conversation into River Crazy. (“I was talking to Lt. Parks about the suspects . . .” “Are they Hispanic?” “Ah, no, but I have names. . .” “Jesus?”
“No, I. . .” “When I worked at the Hispanic Radio Network I knew a guy, can’t remember his name, but it was a Hispanic name and. . . .”)
- If I feel eyes on me to comment at a meeting, I try to somehow relate whatever it is we're talking about to my passing knowledge of poisons, serial killers and violent crimes. If I can't relate it, I'll start talking about it anyway.
I was a jerk in high school. That I am okay with, everyone was a jerk in high school. What I don’t like is that I am still a jerk. They are good people. Their failings are human, forgivable, and far less than my own. I have no reason to be this way, other than I have always been more comfortable as an observer, and audience member to the play of life.
But since I don’t like, you know, talking to people I guess it all works out. Still, kind of depressing.