Monday, January 30, 2012

Life on my own #18: Office politics (and The Sports Guy)

Office politics. Inescapable.

I work next to The Sports Guy. He signs his e-mails that way. And you have to capitalize all those initial letters in The Sports Guy or else he’ll start honking his bike horn at you.

Not the one on his bike, mind you. I’ve never seen him ride a bike. He keeps this bike horn at his desk, ready at hand whenever someone starts to tease him. Or just in case the traffic gets bad in the hallway.

The Editor bought it for him on a whim and gave it to him during the Christmas gift exchange. She might be regretting that impulse buy. Remember, kids, just because it’s loud and oddly shaped, doesn’t mean it’s the perfect gift.

The Sports Guy, including his capital letters, is highly childish. He once crammed about 26 Tootsie Rolls into his mouth just to see how many would fit. And he was surprised to find out that his jaw hurt afterward. Before he was bequeathed the noisy bike horn, he kept a strange-looking Big Bird rubber toy at his desk, and would occasionally squeeze it rapidly, several times in succession, if he felt the urge come upon him. Yes, it makes rubber ducky noises. I stole it in self-defense and have taken to warring back at him with it when he toots his horn.

Then there’s his rather odd manner of telling time. “It’s five quarters till four!” he’ll shout. Immediately after his talking computer has informed him that it’s actually two-forty-five, in a sort of female Macintosh computer voice. It’s a constipated computer, I’m sure of it. Or senile. The swirling beach ball probably mesmerized its brain into mush.

Oh, the drama that ensues when he’s come in for the afternoon. With him on one side and The Editor on the other (whose capital letters are merely bestowed, unlike The Sports Guy’s), a veritable buzz persists over my head, interspersed with giggles from time to time.

Instead of ignoring each other, they repeat to each other exactly what the other told them. Or they repeat about three times what I have said. Or the front desk lady. Doesn’t really matter who said it first—for all they care, it could be some Letter to The Editor they are quoting. But the chance words of wisdom fall like seeds in fertile ground and bear fruit ten or twenty times over. Usually word-for-word and prefaced with “Remember…” or “Don’t forget….” Pieces of advice are particularly vulnerable to this trick.

Instead of holding a grudge against one or the other of the coworkers, he’ll laugh and join in the fun we’re making of him, too. Once, when he went on vacation for three days, everyone else in the office contributed a bit of femininity to his desk… pink heart-shaped Post-It Notes (in two different shades, no less), several floral and environmental calendar pictures, a pink Easter basket converted into his inbox (complete with an artistic pink “The Sports Guy’s Inbox” on it), even a Schedule for the Day reminding him of his important appointments with the manicurist and some friends at the ballet. I recorded his reaction on my handy little digital audio recorder, and told him so afterward.

He didn’t even pull any vengeful return pranks! You see how difficult it is to work in this kind of environment?

There’s not a chance I’ll be able to get any real gossip taken care of.

P.S. This is the same guy who used to think that Simon and Garfunkel’s “Homeward Bound” was about a character from Andy Griffith. “Gomer Pyle… I wish I was Gomer Pyle…” yep, that’s what happens when The Sports Guy doesn’t pay close attention to the lyrics.

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