Tuesday, March 31, 2009

When I am Perky, I Frighten People....

I sit in an office area in which there are three cubicles, all in a row. One end of the cubicle row faces into the hallway. The other end, my cubicle, in fact, faces a space at the bottom of the staircase. Each end of the cubicle row has a door that could, in fact, close, shutting out the hallway and the space at the bottom of the stairs. However, if the doors were closed, the area would instantly lose its openness and begin to feel like we were trapped in a box.

So, we keep the doors open. Since I am at the bottom of the stairs, I have learned to recognize the sound of who is coming down. For example, my boss is instantly recognizable by his loud clomping that actaully shakes some of the pictures on the wall. He has a heavy tread, that one. Some of the technical staff also have heavy treads but they are decipherable by the speed in which they come down. The sound of slow, steady high heels means a specific female coworker is coming down; she moves slowly in case her backless shoes slip off her feet.

We get a lot of traffic on those stairs. Our break area is just around the corner from where we sit and so in the mornings, a steady flow of coworkers comes down to see if there's any coffee made. As the bottom-of-the-stair sitter, and the first person in my area in the office, I am often the recipient of the coffee in the bottom of the pot. It's rather a luxury, actually, even if the coffee isn't exactly Starbucks level. I get served, waitress style, by whichever coworker wants to make a new pot of coffee. They want an empty pot, you see, and they don't want to dump it down the sink. I suppose if I look at it another way, I'm the equivelent of a garbage disposal.

Which, actually, is probably rather true if you ask my family. I hate to see food go to waste and when I'm at my mum and dad's, I usually have the treat of a delicious Sunday lunch. I'm usually the last one eating, picking slowly at the leftover potatoes, or finishing the enormous bowl of salad.

Anyway, aside from being the dumping grounds for leftover coffee, I also get to hear conversations, all day. Mostly they're very social, catching up from the weekend, discussing the latest weight-loss scheme, babies, husbands...all of the normal stuff you get in an office. We don't have a watercooler but we have a fridge, a sink and a coffeepot. Here is the social hub of the office.

Of course, when I and my two coworkers are trying to concentrate, it gets to be a bit distracting. Most of the time, I just pop on my iPod but occasionally, it gets to the point where we tend to just look at each other and roll our eyes. Days like this, it's hard to get as much work done. Yet we try. For better or for worse, we try.

We have a couple of new people in our office. One is the CEO who lives above me. The other is our new HR-type person. They both are very perky people. I am not a very perky person. As I've mentioned, when I am perky, people around me tend to check to see how much coffee I've been drinking or if I've been exposed to high-sugar content. Extreme perkiness gives me goosebumps and not in a good way. I just don't really know how to be perky without frightening people. If I try it and I say "Good Morning!" very brightly, people get this wary look in their eyes and begin to back away slowly. I can tell I've scared them because they won't make direct eye-contact. Those who know me well will say, "Uh-uh, what's wrong?" even when I'm just trying to be friendly.

This leads me to believe that I was not born to be perky. I was born to be the person in the corner who observes, listens, makes mental notes and occasionally interjects something mildly dry-humoured bordering on sarcasm. I do have days where I am a little chipper but it manifests itself in ways in which...I tend to worry people. When I'm happy with something, I say "Party in my Pocket!" Usually, this leads to a discussion on whether I'm being crude. I am not. I just like to say "Party in my Pocket" because it sounds funny. I picture a party in my coat pocket, if you have to know. I think it started when I kept a small stuffed meerkat (Timon from the Lion King- free with a Happy Meal years ago) in my pocket and I pictured him gathering friends to have a party. Yet, if I tell people this, I get that look, the one that says, "Oh dear, Sam's gone mental." When, really, I haven't. I mean, that's how I always think.

I'm not trying to be weird or funny, it just happens. It's the curse of having an imagination. Yesterday, my friend who is having construction done on her house told me that they were putting a hole in the roof. I started to wonder why. First, I thought, maybe they were putting a chimney in. Then I wondered if maybe it was a skylight which naturally made me think of a crazy person climbing onto the roof and staring down at the inhabitants of the house. Finally, I thought how cool it would be if they put one of those air-tubey things in the house like they have at drive-through banks; you know, you put your deposit in the tube, it sucks it up with a "Thwupp!" sound and then moments later, it's in the bank teller's hands. I love those; they're like high-tech banking at its finest.

Then, once I came up with the air-tube-in-the-house idea, I began to think what my friend my use it for. Notes to her mother was the most obvious reason since she'd be living in the back part of the house, her mother in the front. Then, naturally, I started to think of little baby chickens with helmets on, harnessed for safety, going for rides in the tube. No chickens would be harmed in the usage of the air tube.

My friend, being the great sport she is, discussed this with me, pointing out the flaws in my plan. Finally, the discussion digressed into whether it was ok to deep-fry baby chicks and eat them on a stick. I think that's a horrible, cruel thing to do and would never endorse it, just for the record.

I'm telling you all this because that was a normal, chipper, perky conversation for me. It took less than ten minutes to have this conversation over email. I'm glad it was with my friend who knows me because if it was a discussion I had with my coworkers, they probably would have stopped when I said "air tube thingy". Actually, they might have been alarmed when I started talking about the skylight and the person staring down. It's hard to say.

So, you see, although I am exposed to perkiness and trying to smile through it instead of mentally choking the person, I simply am no good at being perky. Chances are, I've probably alarmed you with oversharing how my mind works. I promise, I wouldn't really hurt those chickens. Really.

Oh, and by the way, the hole in the house was for some mundane purpose like a support column or something. I prefer my chicken-in-an-air-tube theory, personally.

Please don't be scared away.

Happy Tuesday.


Kate said...

Drew has a suggestion. You might want to make the air tubey thing a little bigger so that turkeys can fit in and don't feel left out. Drew and I just about passed out laughing at the helmeted baby chicks in an air tube. Of course, Drew is already making sound effects for this. He is concerned about what would happen if there was an evil chicken. Peace and love, half the Flowers family.

Kate said...

Oh, Elijah asked me what the title was today and when I told him, he that I said "When I am parking, I frighten People." This, too, is also true.