After driving through a torrential downpour, I got into the office today around 7:15am. I’m not required to be in the office before 8:00, but I’ve found that it is generally quieter before the rest of the office moseys in. I say “generally” because there are usually between three and five other people that follow a similar schedule. Most of them respect the fact that I’m not particularly chipper in the morning. I prefer not to talk to anyone and that no one talks to me until 7:45 or 8:00. After I’m fully awake I’m happy to socialize, but I’m pretty gruff and curt until then. So, I wasn’t terribly pleased when Janey volleyed this at me before I could even sit down at my desk:
“Boy, it really is a monsoon out there, huh, Nick?”
“Mmmmmmhmmmmm…” I submitted, gutturally, without turning around.
She turned back toward her desk and I sat down at mine, hoping I could get some work done without any more interaction. Within about 30 seconds, Janey started up a conversation about healthy eating with Pearl, the lady that sits next to her. Pearl nodded politely while Janey rambled on in her outside voice despite the fact that there is absolutely no other noise that would cause her to speak so loudly.
“Well…you know…so, I tried the, um…lighter salad dressing…and…you know…well, I’ve been taking the, um…salmon oil..which is supposed to be really good for you…but, well, I tried eating more…um…garlic…but, um…it kind of made me vomit………”
At this point, Reid had come around the corner from his cubicle to pick something up from the printer. Just as he was looking up in my direction, I pointed my index finger at my temple and pulled the trigger. He smiled, grabbed his papers and started walking over toward my desk. I picked up the bottle of Tabasco sauce I keep on my desk and pretended I was pouring it in my eye. He laughed, picked up my scissors and acted like he was ramming them into his chest. After he put the scissors down, I picked them up and mimicked slicing open my wrists. There’s no better way to start the day than listening to inane chit-chat that inspires you to shuffle off your mortal coil.
After fifteen minutes of trying to block out the rest of the chatter, Lee arrived.
“Hullo,” I responded.
“Well, the eldest daughter is a champion! Her team won the Chicago Roller Derby title!”
“Wow, that’s great,” I replied, mustering very little enthusiasm.
“Yep, now I’ve got a new bumper sticker for my car: ‘Proud Father of a Roller Derby Girl’.”
“Well done,” I said and chuckled.
As this highly-enlightening discussion took place, Josh walked in, dragging his briefcase-on-wheels behind him. About the time the Roller Derby conversation ended, Josh was walking back across the office bellowing about hail to what seemed like no one in particular.
“Yeah, so Eddie calls me and says that the hail they’re getting is just nuts. He says that he went out in his yard and picked up this one piece that was totally spherical…Yeah, so he cracks it in half and sees that it has rings like a tree…Yeah, so he says that the hail jumps up and down in the atmosphere and picks up more moisture and that’s what creates the rings…”
Josh adjusted the Bluetooth earpiece that was stuffed in his ear and moved on to the kitchen where his severed conversation continued in a pleasantly muffled state.
I sat back and wondered why I continue to entertain the notion that an office with only a handful of people present should be a peaceful, productive work environment.