in which my antisocial tendencies surface

If only I had me a sharp knife.

If only I had me a sharp knife, I wouldn’t have to go downstairs to the main kitchen at work to prep my food. Slicing tomatos, apples, avocados, rinsing lettuce — all that could be done up here on the second floor, at the semi-abandoned coffee bar near my desk.1

And the most important part of not having to go down to the main kitchen for every single meal, of course, is that I wouldn’t have to experience… my coworkers.

My coworkers are the bane of my existence. Coworkers? They come up to you in the main kitchen where you are minding your own damn business slicing up some vegetables, and they say things to you like: “WHATCHU EATAN FER LUNCH?” Oh, yeah. These people talk like that. Definitely in my grossly exaggerated imitations of them, they do. They talk weird and they are maybe 1.5 times the size and height of normal people and their features blend together into one lumpy mashed-potato-like mass and they probably inhale through their mouths. I don’t know, I am usually too busy trying to desperately hold myself together to really notice.

Time slows during these moments. The moments where you frantically try to appear intensely engrossed in the task at hand in hopes that they leave you alone, but no. You sense that they’ve sighted you, and now they are moving closer, and now they are hovering just over your shoulder. My breathing gets shallow, the world gets fuzzy at the edges. The knife in my hand moves of its own volition, rising up and then sinking down again, like a seesaw or one of those oil pumpjacks you see perpetually pecking at empty fields. Up. Down. Chop. Chop.

“THAH SHURE LOOKS HELTHY!” they chirrup brightly. These coworkers do not know anything other than blind optimism. They have never felt the cold grip of reality tighten in their chests as they sit up in bed in the black of night, bitterly confronting the smallness of their own existences. They remain eternally surprised by ordinary occurrences, especially as they relate to meteorological phenomena. And their worst infraction of all, perhaps, is that they speak only in all caps.

“KIN YUH BUHLEEVE HOW CHILLY IT IS TODAY!” they shriek, grins permanently clamped in place, guffaws echoing across the room and back again like boomerangs. “BOY IT SHURE IS CHILLY! I HEAR IT IS SPOSED TO BE CHILLY THROUGH TOMORROW! IZ THIS UHLASKAH OR IZ THIS CALIFORNIA! HAW HAW!”

Haw.

Yet despite their outwardly friendly and welcoming nature, my coworkers remain inherently suspicious of anything they do not immediately recognize. “WHAS THAT?!?” they inquire, leaning over my lunch plate like they are examining evidence at an anthropological dig site, or maybe just absorbing a particularly compelling panel of a Cathy comic strip. Through gritted teeth I manage to choke out: “A tomato.” This causes them to furrow their brows at the purply-red heirloom fruit below. “UH TOMAYTO!” they snort derisively. “AH NEVER SEEN UH PERPLE TOMAYTO!”

Never seen a purple tomato.

All the things I want to shout in return come flooding through my head.

Stop breathing on my goddamn purple tomato, motherfucker!

and

You think I’m so goddamn healthy? You don’t know me! I had macaroni and cheese for dinner last night, motherfucker!

and

Of course it is chilly outside! It’s almost goddamn winter! Motherfucker!

But no. No. I can’t say any of that, of course. So instead I just show them my teeth in what I hope passes for a smile, and say weakly: “Yeah, it’s a pretty weird tomato, huh? Maybe it will warm up soon.”

I really, really, really need to get me that sharp knife.

Maybe tonight.

***UPDATE: I did. I got a sharp knife tonight. Badow, how you like me now?

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1 It has a sink, a counter, and a coffee maker. Brilliant.

16 Responses to “in which my antisocial tendencies surface”

  1. Well I guess I know what I’m getting you for Christmas.

  2. Today has worn me down to Antisocial with a capital A. I want to lock the doors and hide. Earlier I nearly tore the head off an insurance company call centre person (totally deserved, never change your name btw) and I’m pretty sure today was some unofficial Get In Everyone’s Way Day (maybe it was one of those facebook groups I refused to join).

    My coworkers are weird too – our conversations mostly revolve around the weather. Maybe tea. I like tea (but not really discussing it). I’m going to go sit in front of the television now with a cup and ignore the world.

    • Yes. See, on the one hand, I think that weather is safe. It’s not politics. It’s the universal common denominator in that it affects everyone. I mean, I use and rely on the weather clause, myself. And frequently. I sometimes believe that polite conversation about the weather is all that keeps society from completely collapsing in a heap. But all the time? And with the same people? It becomes so infuriatingly Groundhog Day-like. Add that to the fact that I am antisocial by nature, and well. A ridiculously exaggerated post is bound to happen.

      I feel you, lady. My favorite people are people who I can ignore the world with.

      • Weather is actually all that is on my small talk repertoire, I like to blame that on being a silent and stoic Scandinavian. We don’t do small talk. (So that probably means my various heated emotional outbursts re: insurance people/politics/stupid commercials/bad subway etiquette are the North American influence.)

  3. Ugh – I hate when people lean over my lunch to examine it. One time someone’s hair touched it and I had to throw it away. I think they thought I was just making some sort of scene, but seriously, hair touched it. Why did they have to ruin my food? I was hungry, but not that hungry.

    • Dude, I hate the food leanover. WTF, man? Why you gotta be all up in my food? I do not poke your friggin’ Hot Pocket as it comes out of the microwave.

  4. I say just be preemptive!
    “Look! I have a purple tomato! See!? CRAZY! Yes, it is chilly! It will be chilly for a long while now! WINTER! And yes, I too wish it were Friday! Working hard or hardly workin? haw! HAW! No, I did not watch Dancing with the Stars and don’t care!”
    and then run away with your lunch.

  5. Jen is a genius. I’m getting to the point where I hide all sharp utensils/anything that isn’t bolted down from myself. I’ve got some sort of spirit, but it isn’t merry.

  6. So … I, uh, hide a mini-fridge under my desk and close my office door to eat my lunch. It’s easier than dealing with the political talk (I’m always on the wrong side), the laugh-a-minute how drunk was [Insert name of random co-worker] last night stories, and my-kid-is-funnier-than-your-kid small talk.

    • Oh, god yes. How smart of you.

      Once a month, we have these communal luncheons where you celebrate birthdays, employee anniversaries, and the like. Usually I sneak down there, get a plate, and sneak back to my desk. Last month, the luncheon was combined with a Thanksgiving feast, so it was even more festive than normal. I was down there getting my plate when some people started motioning me over to their table. Here! You can sit in this chair, here! I panicked. I love my lunch/internet/alonetime ritual. I did NOT want to waste the thrill that is eating cheesy pasta on trying to make awkward conversation with coworkers.

      So, I fled. My reputation as a misanthrope is now fully secured.

      By the way, how much do I love that you have a door? Don’t you wish you could keep it closed all day?

  7. basically I am picturing all these interactions as if they were a drawing from hyperbole and a half. hope thats okay with you

    • Is it okay with me? Woman, that is one of the best compliments I’ve ever gotten. Oh yes, I’m interpreting it as a compliment.

  8. Of course, one might worry what could be done with sharp knives other than cutting heirloom tomatoes. (Maybe this is why I work at home.)

  9. i have NEVER enjoyed coworkers. I have never been in a situation that has put my coworkers and i in any kind of a situation that resembles a level playing field where we could find similarities and what not. congratulations on your knife. may you avoid those mouthbreathers for the rest of the winter.

  10. I once brought purple potatoes to work and they nearly caused mayhem. “Yes, they come from a farm.”

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