of my social ineptitude

It’s been two years since I joined the new office, but I’m still feeling like an outsider. The people in my team are really weird, and I don’t know how I am expected to deal with them.

There’s Johnny Brag-o, a senior-level tenured employee who walks around like he owns the place, scaring newbies with his I own the office and everything that is inside it walk. He is a loudmouth who told me as soon as I joined that he had heard rumors that some maal (synonymous with hot chick, only more derogatory if that’s even possible) was about to join, and as soon as he saw me he realized that they were right. (I’m pretty sure he was the one who said it in the first place). Then he proceeded to tell me that he didn’t have any issues with married people having affairs and that he was very open minded. Two months later, he started commenting very loudly about me how I was so “figure conscious” and “well-maintained” – and this was when he was talking to other people. The entire floor heard this, including me. I was busy working and looked up only when I hear my name, and imagine my horror when my body was being described in painfully accurate detail. Yes, this guy is for real. And no, I didn’t tell HR. Yes, I should have.

And there’s Bubbly. She’s really nice to people, always smiling, and I could even like her, but people tell me that anything you say to her you will end up defending in front of a hundred people on different occasions. She’s apparently the official snitch, and I don’t know whether I can watch what I say all the fucking time. Surprisingly enough, she doesn’t ever talk about other people. All she talks about is food, and I don’t particularly like food. [Random fact about me # 1]. I totally judge people when they focus on satiating their appetite for food but starve themselves of the other joys in life. But more about that later. There are some other really annoying aspects of her personality, like being in the early twenties and being under thirty.

Penguin is smarter than anyone else. She knows how this office works. She can pull the right strings and is a great conversationalist. I’d actually try to connect with her, if only she would stop being such a suck up to Johnny Brag-o and Bubbly. For some reason, she thinks that these two have something fishy going on, and told someone who told me that she saw stuff at our last offsite, which I can’t tell you, coz I promised never to breathe a word about it to another soul. I always keep my promises, unless I really, really can’t. Then I will tell the first person I meet. [Random fact about me # 2]

The less I say about the woman I like to call Irene Idler, the better. She’s someone I work very closely with. She is a work from home mom, which is fine by me, but she’s never really available because of internet issues, network issues, and personal issues – and then some. Her gtalk status is always ‘idle’. She’s never at her desk, but if you ask her how her day was, you’ll be sure to hear the acoustic version of either I was on calls all day (only three people from our team are based out of India, including Irene Idler and me) or there were so many transactions during the day. She basically passes on all her work to her team (which means me) – and it is always a day before the deadline, because she just didn’t have the mental bandwidth to forward an email that has been sitting in her inbox for a week. And I let her, because I’m such a pushover. [Random fact about me # 3]

There’s this nice guy, let’s call him Batman, coz he’s just that quiet. He’s good at his work, nice to everyone, and a great guy. But – how I hate the but – there’s a catch. He is super introverted and unbelievably bulliable! He’s fodder for people like Brag-o. I feel sorry for him because he’s so overworked. He’s the only one that I feel comfortable sharing stuff with, you know, things that I really care about, such as a good joke or a great story.

Then there’s Big Momma. She’s great, but she’s a little too much like me. She’s apparently over fifty, and still single, living life the way she wants to. She is well-traveled and well-read. She listens to music, likes to party, likes to eat, willing to experiment – you name it! She’s very thoughtful – she remembers birthdays and goes out of her way to plan impromptu treasure hunts for the team without any expectations. The only reason why she and I haven’t really bonded is that we’re essentially the same type of person. Pleasant but not sociable, hiding behind walls because good fences make good neighbors and familiarity breeds contempt.

There are some other people, but mostly they’re either too loud, too mousy, or too meh! Three of them just joined so I don’t really know them that well.

The thing is, I am generally inept at dealing with new people, but these aren’t new people at all. Some of them have been around since before I joined. Though they seem to like me (there’s no way to be sure) and think I’m a health nut and come to me for advice on diet and exercise (I don’t know why, maybe coz I’m skinny and they think skinny is healthy, which it’s obviously not). But that works for me, because when we aren’t talking about health, I’m really awkward around them – once I even gave Bubbly statistics about water at the water cooler. Once Johnny Brag-o gave me a well-meaning compliment and I stared at him until his face melted. I have been on a ten minute break with Penguin where none of us actually spoke. To be fair, I get along pretty well with Irene Idler, but she works from home and it is impossible to really talk unless you’re face-to-face. (And sometimes not even then!)

In fact, we’re going on an offsite tomorrow where there’s going to be some forced team building, and I’m really dreading it. So much so that I have written over twelve hundred words about it. The max I’ve written about Mister at a stretch is probably half of this.

I’ve tried very hard to be normal, but I just don’t fit in. It bothers me at times like these when fitting in is so important. I look at the three people who joined recently and am really baffled – they’re displaying this amazing ability to gel with other people. How are they fucking doing it?

What, did I miss a special class in school? Did God give them private lessons? Where the hell was I when that was happening? (Actually, the answer to that question in all probability is Raasta, but that’s not the point.)

The point is, how are the new guys doing it? Am I the only recluse in the world? What about you? Do you get along with people in your office? Do you have to like someone to get along with them? Does it matter at all?

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anawnimiss

Blogger. Crazy bitch. Stalkee. Weirdo magnet. Wannabe housewife. Corporate Slave. Find me at anawnimiss.wordpress.com!

63 thoughts on “of my social ineptitude”

  1. Hilarious recount, reminded me of this film called ‘Office Space’. I don’t think everyone realizes how frigging inept and ass-backwards social hierarchies are in corporate india, some even tend to glorify it as evolution of behaviour since they use to fast track their careers and say probably shit like “fast track” and “asap”. To them we should offer the possibility of being beaten over the head several times, timidly just to prove a point, with bamboo sticks

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I feel sorry for bullies, because they are mostly those who have been bullied at some point in their lives and are basically trying to get back at society.

      Oh and don’t even get me started on the jargon. One of the big shots in my office seems to have a shaker with say, ten buzzwords in it, and he basically shuffles them up and takes out two random words and strings them together. Sometimes they mean nothing at all, but he looks smug anyway!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. hehehe i ve been meaning to do an imaginary list of corporate jargons, but i’ve been out of that world for a year or so, hence my apathy is taking over the acidity.
        i think you have daggers sharp enough to poke fun at these skull-drillingly terrible phrases, please do! 🙂

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  2. Hey, thats a nice post!!

    Just off-topic question – Do you read Sherlock Holmes? Because there was a reference to Irene Idler (which was Adler in SH) I thought may be you tweaked the name a bit.

    And I don’t think I’d fit in a office like that too!! You are not inept! The people are, for want of a better word, a mix of oddities!! I get along well with people in our main office (thats where I started and later, shifted to the branch office after my wedding in another city). But here, lets say there are oddities too. e.g. the person who sits next to me finds his computer so intriguing, he logs in in the morning and then, you can’t locate his head because its way inside his cubicle staring at the screen, typing away! You can only crack VEG jokes around him because otherwise you’ll be branded “revolting” and “asanskaari”! Then there’s “What do we know? What have we learnt?” kind of fellow, whose sole purpose of coming to office is to go home after learning one new thing and imparting some new thing. Well, its good. But to preach about it DAILY and force others to take part in his learning marathon, don’t ask!!! So I shut my mouth up, open wp and find something nice to read (like right now) when I am in a mood for change!! 😛

    That I typed so much says that I can be chatty but that I still don’t get along with these guys! So, once again. You are not inept! Just with the wrong kind of people!!! 😛

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    1. Yes, it’s a reference to SH, of course. I’ve been in love four times in my entire life, and twice it’s been with SH. Once when I was a kid and read Doyle for the first time, and then again when Benedict Cumberbatch happened. *drool*

      Btw, the sanskaari guy in your office sounds very Alok Nath-y, if you know what I mean. Maybe you should call him bauji.

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  3. I was expecting you to write about this some time.

    Reminded me of the time when you would be sitting in my bay, quiet as a mouse, all huddled up in your chair, biting your fingernails as you squinted at the screen in front of you, clearly pretending to solve a very important problem just so that you would not be dragged into the chaotic chatter of the neighbourhood. 😀

    As much as we talk now, I wonder if you would still be the same if we were to work together again… hmm..

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I do not make an attempt to get along.. the feedback givers says I should try, make it as a task in my to do list and go about doing it , because it is essential. It is been three years and I am still struggling ..

    I sometimes wonder how some people can smoothly gel with each other …

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    1. Same as me, then. I try for one day, half-heartedly, but I just can’t keep it up!
      I feel like if I have to make too much effort, I shouldn’t even bother. But then the damned offsite comes up!

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  5. Ana, I guess I am also in the similar condition in which you are, the only differences being the fact that you are a girl and I don’t have to face many such things which you need to. But yes as far as meeting with like minded people are concerned, it’s around more than one year since I am working in this office but then never get the chance to gel up with my own team over here. All of them are of different natures than mine, or they are quite similar to the one whom you described in the post 🙂

    It’s always a pleasure to read your posts 🙂

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    1. I think that you’ll probably find such people in all offices. They’re everywhere and they’re so annoying!

      Glad that you enjoyed reading this, Alok. I’m happy to have you around, too!

      Like

  6. My job has always required me to be social because I’m in Communications/Media Relations/PR, but that’s a tricky thing. I’m not outgoing and I suck at small talk, especially in “official” settings like business gatherings or school functions. I mean, standing in line at the grocery store, I can become best friends with the person in front of me. I also have a “mediator” type personality, able to see all sides of most situations (unless I’m in the center of it of course). I’m a “fixer” and I love intimate social experiences with enjoyable people… not necessarily like-minded people, but people that don’t make me feel like I need to be someone else to be near them. It helps that I am also very disarming to others, so one-on-one conversation tends to come easy. I think it is the professional pressure of the work setting which makes us feel compelled to “perform” and evaluate the performance of others. I know people who are truly the epitome of “asshole” in the workplace, but actually really cool people outside of that environment… and vice versa. There are people I truly enjoy working with, but would never opt to hang out with outside of work. Work adds another element to the otherwise “normal” being… it’s called hidden (or not-so-hidden) agenda. Most people are looking to achieve more than just doing their job and doing it well; they want to impress, exaggerate, brown nose, drag down, step on, delegate and take all the credit in any conceivable scenario in which they may have something to gain from doing so. Those riding on the skills of others over-compensate for their shortcomings, typically, by making work life miserable for those who actually serve a purpose in the organization. You think you’ve reached a level of function and achievement which has earned a certain amount of respect, comfort and camaraderie, but really you are simply in a grown-up version of high school musical and you don’t have a clique because you didn’t read the score. Bottom line – you only need to “fit in” to the extent required to fulfill and keep your job… for as long as you choose to tolerate it. I once had a job where I couldn’t stand the environment, the people, or the responsibilities, but I needed the work and I didn’t have the luxury of being choosy at the time. So, I sucked it up, didn’t socialize at work, did my job and held out for as long as necessary. Funny thing is as much as I hated that job, the people I worked with still thought I was great when I finally was able to move on. It’s not about being fake; it’s about being genuinely you without unnecessarily offended anyone else. If you can remain even-keel, get your work done and manage to provide minimum pleasantries along the way… you’ll do just fine. I also recommend a great read if you haven’t checked it out already, “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking” by Susan Cain. She spoke at this year’s Global Leadership Conference and is excellent… very eye-opening.

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    1. You and I have the mediator type personality in common I think. The ability to see both sides of a coin has helped me immensely in my non-work relationships. But I just can’t be myself at work. I don’t think I’m being fake; I’m just not overly honest. I’d like to be, but I know for a fact that all these people have agendas, like you said, and I’m not naive. So I try to do what’s required and nothing more. But the pleasanties drain me out. Everyone else makes it seem so effortless!

      Oh and I will definitely take a look at the book – I haven’t read it yet.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Oh NOOOOOO (fingernails across the chalk board)….not a forced team building exercise!!
    I’m a nice, quiet introverted consultant in a sea of extroverted sales people. Thank goodness I have a home office and only meet them off-site a few times/week.
    Loved your descriptions…I think some of them must moonlight over at my company 🙂

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    1. How do you know they aren’t already moonlighting? 😉
      I hate team building exercises – why would someone think they are a good idea? They just make people more and more uncomfortable. It”s the only thing worse at offsites than company t-shirts. Oh – did I mention we have matching company t-shirts we’re being forced to wear?
      FML!

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  8. Oh, I dislike those team building sessions, too. They’re so awkward for me and never really useful. I’ve recently transferred to a new work location and my new office partner likes to talk. She. Never. Stops. When she isn’t talking to me, she’s on the phone. Sometimes she likes to think out loud. I never know when it’s me that she is addressing. So annoying!

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  9. Nailed it 🙂 – Johnny Brag-o sounds like the 70s villain Ranjit – but probably thinks he is bacchhan or something lol. Penguin and bubbly are stereotypical – especially in Delhi. Maybe you dont fit in with the mainstream ‘smile on your face and bitch behind ur back’ crowd… That’s atypical of our society. I sometimes feel that as a country we celebrate mediocrity. But then that’s just me. Your case seems interesting because you seem to have spent some substantial time at this particular company. Even though you dont feel that you fit in lol. Contradictions collide but somehow coexist?

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    1. Yeah.. I didn’t think I’d survive this, but I somehow did. I think physical distance really helped me beat the odds. I don’t sit in the same area as these guys and I’m so thankful for that.

      Also, I think my not fitting in also has to do with having separate compartments of time for work and play. I can’t sit around gossiping when I have work to do and then stay back to finish up. A lot of these people do that. And nobody knows this better than @gigglespeaks – I am quiet at work even with people I adore.

      I guess that’s where distance starts to help. I only meet these guys at lunch, and that’s about the most time I want to spend with them!

      Like

      1. I used to work in a place where there were a number of like-minded people. Sadly, corporatization took over and all the wonderful people left for greener pastures. Long working hours and constant migration in search of work really ruins social lifestyles. Folks are hooked to facebook for a reason lol. Anyways, I enjoy reading your blog and your way with words. And i think you will enjoy this, if you haven’t already seen it of course: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L2bFsQWaDTg

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        1. I still haven’t seen the video because of office and forced team building sessions. Will do so tonight.
          Btw, where are these greener pastures that nice people keep migrating to? I’d like to go too! 😐

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  10. Boy ! That so sounds like me. It has been almost 2 years since i joined my new company and I still very much feel like an outsider. I just haven’t found any like minded person yet here, where areas I had at bunch of them in my previous organisation :). I used to try hard to fit in, initially, but then I realised it wasn’t worth the effort and gave up. Now I come, work and leave :). Sometimes I feel its better this way

    I totally love reading your blogs and they never fail to bring a smile on my face.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. We live so far apart but have so many of the same questions. I’ve never fit in, either. It wasn’t part of my family’s “thing,” I guess, to teach social skills. I’m getting old now and still don’t get it. But I’m happy. Usually.

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    1. I am happy too when left to my own devices. I hate being forced to share my space with people I don’t know.
      It’s strange, isn’t it, that despite the distance, there is a common thread connecting us all? 🙂

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  12. Nice post. I feel the gender expectations prevails even in the corporate attitudes. It’s generally assumed that a female would be affable,”pleasant”, and would display a smiling face. This stereotype is supported even by ladies themselves so any woman not fitting into the standard mold of “nice girl” is made to feel “weird”.

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    1. Exactly! Gender stereotyping is everywhere! Initially when I joined this office, people were really uncomfortable around me. They visibly marveled at my clothes – apparently formals for Indian women mean salwaar kameez and sarees, not pants and shirts.
      Someone also told me that because I was very business-like, they hated it because I was too ‘manly’ for their tastes.
      WTF?

      Like

    1. Hey Arundati, nice to meet you, too! I’m happy you like my blog! I hope you’re now up to date with my life. Let me get on with getting to know you better now! 🙂

      Like

  13. I feel the exact same way ALL the time. I simply don’t fit in. I newly joined a company about 40 days back, and still have no I can talk to, let alone call a friend. All that women talk here about is Navratri and other festivals. There’s a girl who sits behind me. The only person I talk to, because she’s the only one to have bothered to talk to me. But she’s a complete idiot. Every time there’s a festival, she asks me if I was celebrating it and having a pooja, despite having told her at least 4 times that I am a non-religious atheist. The other day she asked me if I had tasted alcohol. The tone was more like I am older, I don’t drink, but I have tasted alcohol. I was like, “duh! tasted?! I drink, and I make mean cocktails” It bothers me that her general assumption was that girls don’t drink, and that the most they can do is “taste”. And this coming from a tenured IT professional from a top-notch, mega-sized, global company.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh btw, this is my third comment on your blog today. I have a holiday, and all I’ve done since morning is cook Thai Chicken soup, watch 2 episodes of SATC, and read your blog from your first post. I’m really enjoying it.

      Liked by 1 person

          1. I read a few posts to the husband as well. We loved the Twister post and also the one where you go home after having tea and paratha. Hilarious.

            Part of my pleasure is voyeuristic, I must admit. 😉

            Liked by 1 person

          2. 😀 Do visit my blog sometime. I cant promise it to be as fun as yours. But you might find a few things you might be able to relate to. 🙂 We at least have some places in common. I have lived in both Delhi and Hyderabad.

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    2. Okay, I don’t know why people can’t accept that women drink. I know lots of women who would be ashamed of admitting that they do, in fact, love alcohol. As for navratri, I don’t care so much. What puts me off most about it is that people will stay off meat and alcohol but are constantly talking about wanting to “indulge” as soon as the fast is over. Beats the purpose of fasting, doesn’t it?! These people are insufferable!

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      1. It does! And these people always ride the moral high-horse and look down upon “sinners” like me who don’t fast, don’t believe in God, but are totally shameless about compromising their fast when they see some food they like. All I ask of people is to live and let live, but that’s not to be.

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