Monday, February 7, 2011

Extremely Small Favors

My co-worker Mr. Voluble is a Green Bay Packers fan, which I will concede he comes by honestly having grown up in Wisconsin. Fortunately he’s not at work today to add at all to the sting of last night, because he technically lives in North Carolina where there are very few jobs and took the gig here in Northern Virginia after geographically broadening his employment search, and he usually stays in a rented apartment during the week and heads home on weekends, but his doctor is in North Carolina and he is soon going to have surgery on an arthritic hand and has a pre-op check-up today, in NC. Why do I know so much about his comings and goings and current course of medical treatment and so on? Same way I know that he’s a Packers fan, or know a thousand other things about him that I truly could not give a crap less about: because he never shuts up about himself. In point of fact lately he has taken to walking into our shared converted storage workspace and, without preamble, saying things like, “Well, I had to spend most of this weekend at home because my car was in the shop so I didn’t get to do the things I had planned on doing around town …” As if (a) any of us in the workspace care and also (b) any of us had asked. It’s disconcerting, because every aspect of his speech pattern makes him sound like he had just pressed the “resume” button from a previous, paused conversation when in fact nonesuch ever took place (nor ever would).

He also has a habit of reading aloud work e-mails which are distributed to ALL. I know I was just griping the other week about the tediousness of mentally sorting and electronically deleting messages that have no relevance to contractors whatsoever, but the pain is actually intensified by Mr. Voluble opening the same exact e-mail I just got and then actually saying out loud, at normal conversational volume, “OK, let’s see, looks like annual self-assessments for federal employees are due this Friday?”

But yeah, he’s not here today, sigh of relief. The odds are very high that he will come striding in tomorrow morning in mid-conversation mode as usual and that he will just assume of course none of us talked about the SuperBowl on Monday morning, because he wasn’t there. In fact he might assume that none of us were able to grasp the subtleties of the game, like the final score; I’d say there’s a 30% chance he walks in saying “Go Packers!” (which would at least be a normal way of expressing his enthusiasm for his rooting interest) and a 70% chance he walks in with “So the Packers won the SuperBowl! I guess they’re the World Champs now!” (which … speaks for itself, in contrast, really)

This picture included for maximum ridiculosity
The Steelers losing the big game was a bummer in my corner of the world, of course, but there were a few bright sides. Unlike last year, we actually made it to a SuperBowl party as planned, so the company was pleasant in general, and mostly on the Steelers’ side, either in genuine fandom, in deference to the stressed out pregnant lady (that would be my wife) or simply because everybody would have loved to see the Biggest Deficit Comeback in SuperBowl History. (The one exception was a devoted Ravens fan who was rooting for the Pack because of some enemy-of-my-enemy principle, I think, but whatevs.) The little guy was with us and stayed up way past his bedtime, but was a content little angel enjoying the treat of playing with other kids’ toys, mainly a hugely elaborate dollhouse as well as a pair of Buzz Lightyear and Woody toys about half as tall as the little guy himself. And my wife was very gracious in defeat, although I very gently tweaked her about it on the way home by asking “Isn’t it nice to root for a dynasty?” The Steelers losing the SuperBowl is like the Yankees losing the World Series: it’s not like their appearance in the championship was a crazy, once-in-a-lifetime shot which gets your hopes up and then breaks your heart. They’ve been there before and won it all, they fell a little short this time, they’ll be back there again sooner than later. Maybe you think that actually sounds very ungracious in its arrogance, and perhaps you think I’m grading on a ridiculous curve where taking solace in past (and hypothetical future) dominance is very mature and blaming the refs or denigrating the Packers’ win as meaningless or any other number of petty displays is the opposite side of the coin. But then that would be a difference between you and me.

Still, whether it sucks a little or sucks a lot, it sucks to not have things go your way, and I’m thankful that Mr. Voluble isn’t here adding to the suckiness, even if it’s just a delay of the inevitable. Of course in Mr. V.’s absence I still have to deal with the fact that my other two workspace-mates are not speaking to each other after some really regrettable altercations last week, but I don’t even feel like unpacking that particular awkwardness right now.

1 comment:

  1. Ah, "Mr. Voluble." We all have our workplace "characters."

    Of course, I am one. At my current workplace, I failed to adjust to the "free soda" policy like a normal person, and for a time, went wild on the gratis fizzy drinks. Thus, I became Belching Guy. (As soon as I found out I was "Belching Guy," I did my best to cut down on the soda and now am more appropriately known as "Never Irons His Shirt Guy.")