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Wednesday, February 01, 2006


Part of me just doesn't understand sociability. Of course I love having friends. But work is a different matter. I was used to office work, where the people in my department would hole up their own offices. We'd gather for a weekly staff meeting, occasionally be drawn out for collaboration projects, then get together for happy hour on Fridays to drink too much and complain about work. No one ever looked askance if I didn't emerge from my office the entire day.

Now I realized that spending more than a few minutes shooting the breeze, sometimes talking work, sometimes gossiping, is really a way of life (here anyway). I sat at the front desk for part of the afternoon today, because the admin assistant was out, and a coworker I really enjoy sat with me for about an hour, chatting. Talk turned to the admin (who is fairly new, only about 2-3 months into the job). My gut twisted. I get really uncomfortable with the amount of gossip that goes on at work, and lately there's been a lot about this woman. She and I are friendly and talk a little, but there's a lot of weird tension between her and many of the other staff, and it seems partly to be racially motivated, which makes me freak out even more. I feel stuck in the middle.

But what I understand now is that she doesn't really make much of an effort. I imagine it would be hard to come into the middle of our department, because there are a lot of forceful personalities--it sure was hard for me, but my coworker said at least I didn't isolate myself and not talk to anyone. I don't know about that. I think this coworker just likes me and so gave me the benefit of the doubt. But still, it took me a long time to feel comfortable amongst my coworkers. A looong time before I could sit through a staff meeting without worrying that the raised voices meant huge conflict, instead of normal discussion.

It did take me a while to realize that I enjoy my coworkers a lot more if I chat and joke around with them during the day instead of holing up in my office.

Speaking of joking, it sure doesn't feel like that when my coworkers bug me about having kids. For a brief moment, I considered telling them I couldn't bear children, just so they'd be appalled and not bring it up again. And I can't even fully express how much it bothers me when they talk about me being pregnant, having kids, or, with just as much regularity, how much they think I hate kids. I even have an on-and-off serious dislike for one coworker because she seems to take just too much glee in teasing me about it. And it seems to be a vicious cycle of behavior, because I do sort of play it up when they tease, loudly proclaiming that there's no way in hell I'll ever get pregnant, sure don't want to ever be a mom, etc.

So it happened again today during our staff meeting. They ganged up on me again, asking when I was going to get pregnant, and I just couldn't take it. I had some serious hate on for the world this morning due to hormones, and I got a little snappish with them. I've always wanted to get snappish about it, though I just don't really have the nerve, plus, I know all about how the point of teasing is to get to someone. And in the end, the one I don't particularly like, said, "aw, we jest messin' witcha."

And then it dawned on me. They like me. I think in small part they also like playing with someone who takes herself too seriously, but I think they do like me.


Blogger Mrs. Why said...

They definitely like you, Ellie. They also like messin' witcha. Good for you for standing up for yourself, even if it was hormonally driven. It's good to patrol your boundaries a bit.

6:11 PM  

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