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New York City Happenings – The Swarm: Rubber Buns and Liquor

Posted Thursday, May 1st, 2008 at 5:00 pm by Neighborbee in Cultural Bees. More in 10022

This week on The Swarm, neighborbeeblog plays host to Jen, author of I Hate You, New Guy Who Sits Next To Me and Rubber Buns And Liquor. This week, Jen discusses the perils of office life and how to avoid any long-lasting effects.

I work in an office, a standard old boring-to-discuss job that, should I shuffle off my mortal coil anytime soon, would leave my obituary writer scrambling to describe kindly, and without using the word “toiled”.

I don’t necessarily like my job, but there is something comforting about joining the age-old tradition of quietly staring at a screen and waiting for the day to end; when I find myself actually having a conversation about last night’s TV around the proverbial water cooler, I feel like a soldier of the middle middle-class, marching in proud lockstep with an army of other liberal arts-educated twentysomething who have taken an oath to maintain the databases of the world. I would trade my 401k for a Flintstone-whistle to be blown at the end of each day. Sure, every now and then I’ll have a bad day and will resolve to switch over to a life of hard, but fulfilling, physical labor involving mortar and rebar, but then the idea of not being able to watch my eBay auctions tick off their last seconds is unfathomable, and I curl back up with my spreadsheet.

Some companies are patently naïve in their assumption that all coworkers will have a mutual like and respect for each other, ignoring the fact that there’s something highly unnatural about throwing a group of people of all ages together for the majority of their waking hours and assuming they’ll get along based on the fact that everyone has the same health insurance provider.

I see most of my coworkers like I do my childhood teachers- they exist only within these walls, and my mind is completely blown by any further information that shatters this goldfish-like illusion. It’s odd enough to run into your coworker at a deli at lunchtime, purchasing food, because it is a reminder that they need nourishment, just as seeing them on the subway or sidewalk hints at the fact that they don’t appear solely when you will them into existence, like your imaginary friend. To be guilted into attending office picnics, going away drinks, and retreats is downright jarring. It’s amazing how the act of seeing someone in flip flops can shake your foundations. However, there are a few steps you can take to make sure that this doesn’t psychologically scar you on a frequent basis:

How to Recover from Seeing Your Coworkers As Actual Human Beings

1. Demonize them, and assume that whatever act or errand they are performing in public is part of a larger plan to cause some greater evil. It’s easier to picture Bad Guys existing in the real world than IT Guys.

2. Follow them. Even if they’re heading home on a Friday, sooner or later they have to come back to the office, the sight of which would help ease the blow.

3. Come to terms with the fact that although they might have actual personal lives outside of the office, they probably aren’t very good at them.

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