Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Creepy Coworkers

Sorry for the delay in posts, it has been a busy December. My last 15 days in December will involve 4000 miles of flying, one trip to Charlotte for business meetings that I do not think will prove fruitful, systems testing at work, drinking with friends, and oh yeah, Christmas with family. All the while, I have a wife who has now been sick for what seems like 26 weeks. More like 5. Work has been on my mind. It's been good, the people are good, my boss is great, the autonomy & authority has been excellent, and it feels like I am on cruise control. It's a nice groove. No real creepy people at work. None. This has not always been the case in my experience.

I do miss the work environment of my last workplace, but things feel so good here. My last employer, Liberty Mutual, and my current employer are lightyears better than my first employer out of college, StanCorp Financial Group in Maine (not the Oregon HQ which rocks). I'd rather have a stiletto heel go through my tongue than work there again. They'd have to fire the entire management team (except Sue) there for me to want to return. There were some great, friendly people who worked hard. There were also creepy dumbasses that worked there. Oddly enough, the worst creepy people were in management. Maybe this was a Maine thing becase I have heard many a story of creepy coworkers from my friends at other companies in Maine, but this place had a high percentage of people who would share way too much information about their sex lives, their kids still being in diapers at age 5, and what they thought of fellow employees. There was one employee that was in an awful marriage to some guy who spent 3 hours in the gym with his buddy and only had sex with her once a month for like 3 mins. Gay Alert! I kept waiting for her to say "my husband phucks men, but we stay married for the house & tax benefits". I had a cool coworker who was one of those bottle it up inside people who would be supercalm, drive us to a sandwich shop for lunch and say "If you come in tomorrow and you have a voicemail saying 'leave now', buddy, leave fast because I'm taking an AK to this place". That's funny and touching that he cared enough about me. There was one employee who stood out amongst the rest because his creepiness coupled with a complete lack of common sense that made you think that a machine had dropped a 5 year old's brain into a 6 foot 4 big headed human male.

Let's set this story up: this creepy guy was 6 foot 4, had a head the size of a watermelon, and the voice of peter lorre. It was so similar you could crack out a peter lorre impersonation and everyone would assume you were teasing on this creepy dude. In an odd coincidence of genetics, this guy and I are 5th cousins. When I started working there, I tried to explain this to him. It took 20 mins. I kid you not. I broke it down to this: "our great grandmothers were sisters which means we have great great grandparents in common". Seems straightforward and easy right? Nope. I had to draw a family tree and place his head on it and mine, waaaaaay over to the left of him. The guy woudl ask for tissues from one woman in the whole building... the prettiest womant here who also happened to work all the way on my side of the building. Let's just say he stared a lot and in three areas: face, boobs, rear. No hiding it. This made any woman who was above a 6 (on a 1-10 scale) feel uncomfortable.

When I was released from my cage to eat in the lunch room on good days, he would join my table from time to time. He'd eat a salad, living vicariously through my food as I had Whoppers, Mr. Bagel Turkey/Cranberry/Stuffing sandwiches, and other non-diet foods. I was the 22 year old with quicksilver metabolism, and he would often say "someday you'll be the one eating the salad". Thank heavens he did not say "tossing salad". This created some good conversations and also opened the door to horrible comments.

Inappropriate Comment Greatest Hits

1. "Danielle has really nice lips" - That was all he said and to no one in particular. Might as well have said "I wonder how good she is at giving a...". I'm not passing judgment for having the thought. I have thought coworkers were very pretty, maybe had a hot daydream or 20 during boring training sessions, maybe wish I did not work there so I could date them and avoid HR's wrath, but I would never voice that out loud in a mixed gender setting. D--- had lunch with us then left to go back to her cubicle. D--- was also attractive, friendly, and really funny. She even called me 'hot' in a sweater I was wearing, which I misinterpreted. She cleared it up right after with an email because she was so conscious of making someone uncomfortable. She was also friends with creepy dude's sister. No one said anything to prompt this comment. He just dropped it in front of a mixed gender lunch crowd. I remember sitting there thinking, "so how am i suppose to react". I chose to look like a 5 year old who just crapped his pants in fear. This gave the 'help' sign to my coworkers, and they thankfully, transitioned the conversation to meadows and butterflies. The kicker, Ms. Nice Lips reported to him! WTF!?!!? They have porn videos devoted to that exact scenario.

2. "If I go to a bachelor party, my wife knoooooows that I am free that night". - You have to stretch knows out and go low on the note as it is stretched. We were discussing another guy's send off with his friends and hoped he had a good weekend. This was just dropped by creepy dude to let us know that he is a douchey pig and rubs it in his wife's face. This effectively killed the conversation. Once again, this was in mixed gender conversation. He left the table and then we got the dirt. Yeah, he's free that night. Free to sleep on the couch the following week. One fellow coworker said that yes he is a pig at bachelor parties and has been restrained by friends from taking it too far. He's the Jeremy Piven character in "Very Bad Things".

3. "It's really shocking to be served with a restraining order at work when you're 26. That's what they do. That's what women do when they file for divorce. They file a restraining order, see. They do that so you can't see your kids for days, and you break first in the divorce proceedings and give them what they want. I can't... fuck arrrgghhh..." {then stab at your salad} - This is an exact quote that is forever seared in my memory. This guy married young and divorced young. I pass no judgment; it happens all of the time. What I do not like is scarfing down on a hamburger and having this story thrown in my face. This time it was just me, bottle it up AK guy, and creepy dude. I just sat there and said "wow, that's too bad". We ate in silence for the next 10 minutes. When I see specials about men who kill their wives rather than divorce them, I think it is stupid of them to do that. Then I recall this comment, and I understand their motivation.

There was a female who was close to this guy for inappropriate comments. She may have been worse about oversharing family details, but she was not as creepy from a sexual predator/angry human perspective. She was just a horrible human being. She was also oddly similar to many other women in behavior (to an extreme), and she crossed the line with no conscious and no remorse. There were many women at my workplace who shared details of their sex lives (gross). Many women who shared details of their children's behavior that I would never share (sad). This one freaked me out because I thought my existence there would prevent women from doing this since some of them had worked with my mother at another company 20+ years earlier. They didn't hear these stories about me, and if they did, wouldn't they view me as a dipsh*t because of it? Many women would snipe at other women in the office for their hair, weight, clothes, husbands, habits on the toilet. I have not experienced this as much from male coworkers. I do not know if it is a gender difference, fear of being fired because HR treats men and women differently for saying the same thing, or better control of the mind-mouth filter. Probably the gender difference and fear of HR. Men do not have great mind-mouth filters.
For your own sake, be cognizant of what you say at work that is non-work related. If you do this in email, you're not too sharp because there is a delete key to erase it. If a sentence makes you question it's appropriateness, delete it. You may be the absolute best employee at your job, but if your coworkers know you like to smack women's asses, like to go down on men, threw your kid out of the house for smoking cigarettes, were the sorority slut, killed a drifter when you were in college, they will view you differently. It's incredibly tough to separate the person from the employee. If you are self employed, keep rocking. You are the wisest of all.

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