What is the worst thing about your job? Is it the commute, the annoyingly loud coworker in the next cubicle, anyone from Marketing, the person who takes the last cup of coffee and doesn’t make more, the petty rules, the delay in getting replacement equipment? Well how about your coworkers, or rather, one in particular?
For me, it’s the latter. Most of the people in the department are pretty decent. I mean, there are some arseholes, skivers and generally obnoxious gits, but by and large we work well as a team and like each other. However, there is one person who until recently got under my skin like a deer tick.
Let me elaborate: We have three shifts, the first one running from 5.30 until 2 pm. This is a brutal shift at the best of times as the opener only has 30 minutes to make sure everything is ship shape before opening the department, and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone, as I just can’t imagine having lunch at 10 am. One of our openers, the one who gets under my skin is a middle aged woman who is much, much farther along the Aspergers/Autism spectrum than me. A blind man on a speeding horse could see that, so to say that it’s obvious is something of an understatement. Her one redeeming feature is that she is very good at her job, and I know that as the mid shift person, I will get a very, very full briefing on all the events of the day so far and numerous updates during the three and a half hours we work together, and that’s where the problems start.
She will perseverate on the smallest of details. Anything that has happened in her life is apparently worthy of relating, including her nieces and nephews not liking whatever she had prepared for dinner, the lack of a product in stock, the arrival of the next load, in fact anything that has happened to her or she has seen in the past week. It used to drive me fucking nuts until like Baldrick, I had a cunning plan.
I would simply tune her out. I will make the occasional sound of acknowledgement, but don’t engage in any meaningful way unless I have to, and I try not to have to. I know she can’t help it, in fact, I’m pretty sure she doesn’t even realise she’s doing it as she gets on with her work. Two things still get to me, no matter what I do. She will end even the most mundane of statements or observations by laughing as if she’s just delivered a razor sharp one liner. Maybe she genuinely thinks she’s being funny, but it happens pretty much every time she finishes a sentence. The other thing is her habitual attempts to upsell. If there is one thing I dislike with a passion when it comes to sales, it’s anyone who tries to upsell to me. In fact, if someone does that to me, I just leave and don’t even complete my initial purchase. I know that sounds like going too far, but I refuse to be manipulated into spending more that I have to, or buying something I hadn’t intended to at someone else’s urging, especially if that person has a vested interest in my purchase.
You see, we very often run offers and “Big Board Sales”, where various products may be offered at 60 percent of their regular price. Not just in the deli, but in every department in the store. This is a regular part of our life, and when the deli has anything either on offer, or on the Big Board we get slammed. Big Board items are advertised on standing boards both outside and immediately inside the entrances in font so large it can’t be missed. To give one recent example, we have prepackaged salami on sale, specifically 7 ounce sampler packs, which are selling well due to the number of parties taking place around Christmas.
I may be taking a bit of a leap here, but I work under the premise that all of our customers who happen to be of high school age or above are able to read at least at at high school level and possess the mental capacity to make decisions for themselves. Not so my coworker. Several times this week, as she handed a customer their order she went on to describe in great detail the salami, what the pack contained, the price and where to find it. Every time, every single time, the customer looked back without making eye contact, smiled weakly and thanked her before hurrying away as fast as possible to the furthest corner of the store. The only way I can describe it is to ask you to imagine the look on someone’s face as they are accosted on the bus by the guy across the aisle who is expounding on some bizarre conspiracy theory.
She even tried to get another of my coworkers to do the same. As he’s a sensible, well adjusted chap he demurred. She hasn’t asked me, as I’m pretty sure even she gets the fact that I will never upsell. I know all the above sounds mean, and to some extent it is. In fact, George Bernard Shaw put it perfectly when he said:
“The worst sin towards our fellow creatures is not to hate them, but to be indifferent to them: that’s the essence of inhumanity”.
The problem is that it’s the only way I can keep my sanity. I’m not mean to my coworker. It’s just that she has no conversation, no interests, no opinions on anything other than her family and work. She’s very good at her job, and within five minutes of starting my shift I know exactly what has happened, the state of our stock, anything of note, and for that I appreciate her and am most grateful. I just wish I knew of a better way to get through half a shift with her.
Suggestions on a $20 bill to Singledad Towers, please.