Monday, August 15, 2005

Gettin' My Swerve On.

My excessive internal cringing about this particular moment occasioned the creation of this very Web log (see Introduction). It occurs -- where else? -- in the office, a place so rife with intense, existential discomfort that they made a very successful cable TV show about it. Let me preface this by saying it involves running into a coworker that I don't know very well after having been out drinking and having fun with that person, a situation I always find vaguely scandalous and shameful (unless it was boring, which is a separate kind of shame). One night I went to a bar with a couple of people from my department and this woman, who also works at my place of business but with whom I do not work directly, was there too. Nothing happened other than drunkeness all around and staying out way too late for a weeknight.

So a few days later I'm going about my work-a-doo sillinaz and I see that this coworker is talking with another person as I walk by but she does not see me. As I make my return trip I'm in a conundrum. Am I obligated to stop and chat here, or is it better just to nod hello and move on? Does this person even remember meeting me? And so on. Every interaction, to me, is Humans 101, and I am perpetually earning a D. Once, while I was being fired from a job, the angry-geek-turned-cool-cocaine-snorting-executive who was my boss at the time berated me, "Obviously, you can't read people. And if you can't read people, I don't think we want to continue doing business with you." (This is another uncomfortable moment that I would rather relate when I can be sure everyone is stoned and will not remember.) Well, he was right. I can't read people. People mystify me, which is why I am perpetually uncomfortable.

So as I am walking by my coworker, contemplating what might be the appropriate social response, I fail to realize that the floor I am walking on has suddenly taken a downward slope -- it's a fucking ramp, a stealth ramp right there in the office, surely designed to weed out the weak links in the building. I make a very obvious dip in my gait, looking as if I am preparing to do the limbo, before I try to regain balance. The two women look at me blankly, perhaps wondering if I needed medical attention. "Did you see what I just did??" I said, before imitating myself wildly careening about. They laughed politely and I wondered why I have not been put on some sort of watch list.


  1. I share your feelings of social anxiety, though mixed with strong undercurrents of paranoia, suspicion, and petty violence. One maxim I've recently adopted which has helped me is Hunter Thompson's call to "Never apologize, never explain." I constantly find myself apologizing, in stores, on the street, or when passing my babies around and my hands brush against the bosoms of women who are not married to me. I haven't quit completely, but I have cut back -- maybe I DID want to cut you off with my shopping cart! Maybe I DID want to touch your breasts! Let them figure it out. This has eased the strain.

  2. You're my first poster! Thanks! I entirely agree about the apologizing. An ex once told me not to apologize so much and it's some of the best advice I've ever gotten.

  3. Anonymous6:51 PM

    "sorry for not apologizing, but..."

    when did you get fired by a coke snorting propellerneck?

    -- pb dot c

  4. It was in the mid-90s. Matt Zymet would be able to tell you all about it. The guy scapegoated me for his own mistakes and was later pushed out of the company.

  5. hahaa yeah something happend to me, very similar and I sadi the same Nothing happened other than drunkeness all around and staying out way too late for a weeknight that becames very annoying since I invite a "friend" but I guess it can't be helped on that moment, but something that would never happend again.


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