Today, my coworker said to me, “but you seemed so normal when you first started working here.”
This is not the first time I have heard this phrase. Nor, I’m afraid, will it be the last. This is not to say that I consider myself ‘not normal’ but, it seems, by the standards of others, I am a little…odd. I don’t consider myself odd. It’s hard to do that when the things you do every day seem normal to you.
I mean, look at the film, “Elf.” Buddy the Elf thinks it’s perfectly normal to put sugar on spaghetti, talk to raccoons and wear an elf costume. In his world, this is all normal behavior. It’s only when he goes out into the wider world that he realizes this is not what everyone else does and so he’s considered to be…odd.
Not that I’m comparing myself to Buddy the Elf. It’s just to illustrate the point that what might seem odd to others can seem perfectly normal to you. Normal is a very relative concept. In my case, what seems normal to me is watching the Top Chef: All Stars finale with a strong sense of anticipation. My very favourite cheftestant, Richard Blais, was in the final two. I have liked Richard since he was on Top Chef in Season 5. I think he’s an amazing chef who has an amazing sense of creativity. I’d never cook the way he does but I think some of his ideas are absolutely brilliant.
Anyway, (sorry if you haven’t seen it yet), long story short, Richard won. Naturally, I was very excited. I was so excited that I shouted “YAY! RICHARD WON” very loud at the TV. This proceeded to wake Sookie and Rory quite abruptly. After they got over their initial befuddled alarm as to why their mummy was shouting, they started to respond to my “YAY”’s with their own brand of excitement. It turned into a small, celebratory dance party with no music. This is quite normal for us. The pups and I often have dance parties. Sookie isn’t much of a dancer unless I pick her up and twirl her around the room. Rory, on the other hand, likes to jump up and down with me and keep up with my very uncoordinated but very enthusiastic dance moves. Sookie generally watches the two of us with a slight air of disdain. Although it might be confusion. Sometimes it's hard to tell.
Apparently, doggie dance parties aren’t that normal. I found this out today when my coworker asked if my “Top Chef” favourite won. I told her how excited I was for him and then told her about the dance party. This is how she came to say that somewhat familiar phrase of “but you seemed so normal when you started working here.” Keep in mind that this comes on top of my rather idiotically telling her a few days ago that one of the dogs and my favourite new games is “Throw the Rock into the Sewer Drain to Hear it Splash.” Apparently this is not normal either. How would I know? It’s what Rory, Sookie and I do on our lunch break now. It’s normal to us.
I probably don’t help my own case. I’m the twit who wonders aloud if you can eat Canadian geese and if they’d taste more like duck or goose when we pass by a flock on the way to an office lunch. It’s been ongoing since I started. It usually happens at all of my jobs. I start out being the proper British girl (or woman, I suppose I am now). Then, slowly, as my coworkers get to know me and I start to relax around them, I forget to act like a proper British woman and…I act like me.
It’s not that I’m not proper. Sometimes, I’m a little too proper. I can’t get used to my coworker putting chewing gum on the back of his hand when we go out to lunch nor can I get used to discussing bodily functions with my coworkers. However, I have also been known to be caught singing rather loudly in my office without realizing I’m actually doing it. This is not good especially when I’ve been singing the same line from one song over and over because it’s stuck in my head. I also like to bop my bobblehead of Ben Linus from Lost on the head so it bobbles and then cascade into a peal of giggles because he looks so funny.
You get the idea. As I said, normal is relative. I don’t think of my behavior as particularly odd until I get either an “ohhhkaaaay” from my coworkers or, worse, “The Look,” which, all at once, lets me know that I’ve made the mistake of letting people know too much of what goes on in my head and I should probably have kept my mouth closed.
Still, I suppose with this job, I should be pleased. It’s taken me six months before my coworker considers me weird. I think that may actually be a bit of a record. I’d like to think this is because I have an office and it’s a lot easier to ‘hide’ in an office. When you sit in a cubicle, it’s much harder to have chair boogies, sing-a-longs with myself and bobblehead moments without someone seeing you and giving you The Look or, worse, saying “What are you doing?” and being forced to realize that a) not only have you been spotted in a quite private moment but b) the tone of voice is conveying that it’s a weird thing to be doing and they’re a little concerned.
The nice thing about this job is that everyone’s a little weird so I don’t get judged. In my last job, office politics were horrible. It was the type of environment where if someone screwed up or did something ‘different,’ it would inspire gathered whisperings in offices, odd looks thrown and conversations with coworkers where they used that overly friendly tone associated with TV characters who are trying to calm down a person holding a gun.
Certainly, this sounds dramatic but, well, that’s how it was or, at least, how it felt. I might have imagined the tone of voice and maybe the looks but the whispered gatherings were real. The funny part is that there were some very loud whisperers and it was pretty obvious when they were gossiping and even what they were saying. That’s why it’s nice to work in my current office. If coworkers think I’m doing something weird or I say something weird, it’s greeted with a, “you’re very strange,” or “WHY on EARTH would you think about eating a Canadian goose?” I like that. It’s very refreshing to have upfront honesty like that even if it does make me question whether or not I’m normal.
Besides, as I said earlier, what is normal, anyway? Exactly. There’s no such thing. It’s all relative. I like my ‘abnormal’ world. It seems perfectly normal to me and that’s what counts, right?