I’ve slowly come to identify a condition in one of my new colleagues. Apparently when working on short timelines or under stress, this individual’s default setting is “talk, nonstop.” It doesn’t seem to make much difference that if one is on a demanding timeline usually that means we are all plugging away on our own similarly pressing issues. I’ve tried the usual “polite” responses of keeping my responses short, answering while continuing to peck away at the keyboard, not making eye contact, etc. Next we’ll be moving along to the less gentle “look, I’ve got a lot of work, let’s pick this up later” or the even more blatant listening to my iPod at my desk routine although that’s usually just me sitting at my desk with earbuds in not actually listening to anything. If that fails, it’s possible that I’ll have to bludgeon this person to death with a hole punch and hide the body in the “protected wetland” (aka swamp) behind the building.
I have no earthly idea what would give someone the impression that I’m a good listener and even less of an idea why they think anyone at all would care about the inane prattle that dribbles out of their filthy sewers. Let’s be honest, I’m here to do a job and get paid. If I want to talk about something that’s not work, I’ll call one of my actual friends. While I’m here, all I need you to do is STFU and let me do a day’s work, ok?
Editorial Note: This part of a continuing series of posts previously available on a now defunct website. They are appearing on http://www.jeffreytharp.com for the first time. This post has been time stamped to correspond to its original publication date.