Let me preface this entry by saying that there is nothing wrong with being a nice person. In a perfect world, we’d all be this way.
I’m a very friendly girl. This is how I’ve always been. I’m always friendly, polite, and nice to people I meet, because naturally, I'd like to be extended the same courtesy, and life is too short to be angry, mad, sad, etc.
You know those people who stand outside of supermarkets asking for donations and/or trying to sell something? I’m even friendly to those. I almost always stop and listen to what they have to say because I feel sorry for them…because honestly, if I had a job like that, I wouldn’t be very happy either.
A few weeks ago, I rushed past a guy that was trying to sell something because I was in a hurry to get to my tennis lesson, and then I felt really guilty. So last night when I went to Ralph’s to buy some Benadryl, I saw the same guy standing outside. For a minute I contemplated sneaking out of the other door to avoid him, but then I felt bad and decided to face him and whatever he was selling. Turns out he was trying to sell vouchers to a new pizza place that had opened near my work.
Anyways, one of these days I’m going to have to stop being so nice because I’m sure it’s going to get me in trouble. It’s the same way at work: I’m too nice and then uncomfortable situations arise as a result. For some reason, much to the amusement of my friends, I attract strange people at work. I work for a very large corporation, so I interact daily with a large mix and number of people. Part of my work involves providing support to a large group of engineers. One such engineer is Herbert (whose name has been changed for the sake of anonymity).
Herbert is 65, newly divorced, semi-curmudgeony (yay, GRE word), wears way too much cologne, and for some reason, thinks I’m his personal secretary based on the requests he makes of me. He was dropping off some documents at my desk one day and we got to talking about grad school (he was asking me what I was planning on majoring in), and then told me about his son who is around my age and also contemplating grad school.
Herbert must have mistaken my friendly conversation with him for something else, because the conversation that then followed was something like this:
Herbert: Can I ask you a question?
Herbert: Would you like to go on a date?
Me: ...... (I was speechless...and that doesn't happen often)
In my brain, I was thinking: What?! You're newly divorced, my dad's age (hence I could be your daughter), work with me (i.e., so not appropriate), and you shouldn't be asking me this at work when I'm in an open environment and everyone around me can hear the conversation. Please go away.
Me: You mean on a date with you?! (I'm shocked he didn't find this question insulting)
Me: Um, I'm sorry, but I'm seeing someone at the moment (which was not true, but I couldn't tell him what I was really thinking, now could I? I did him a favor and let him down easy).
The following week, I printed out a picture of me and a friend together and put it in a frame, as if to imply this was the person I was dating. I know, my bad, but I had to keep him away somehow.
And after that, things were just awkward: every time he'd come by after that to drop off a document, I'd feel uncomfortable. I hate when people do such things at work because it makes everything so strange after that. Although he's no longer at the company, I still think of that moment (but not in a fond way).
Another "fan" of mine would always leave me food at my desk. Is that normal? Maybe I'm just weird. It started with chocolate: I'd come in to work to find a huge snickers bar on my desk. And then I'd find a Twix bar a few days later. Now some might enjoy this, but I didn't because it felt strange having someone leave me food, and because it was Lent and I'd given up sweets. Upon telling this person that I couldn't have sweets because of Lent, I discovered fruit waiting for me instead after that: an apple, an orange, a pear, etc. Finally I told him that it would be best if he didn't leave me any type of food, and that was the end of it...
...or it could just be that he ended up leaving the company a few weeks later. I have more recent stories which involve using speakerphones in an open cubicle environment (NOTE: this is NOT a good thing), but I will save those for another blog post.
Have an embarrassing or insightful work stories? Please share!