Every office has one, and everyone dreads being the one. You know, that person that oversteps on the borders of interesting. The one that is the office topic for the wrong reasons beyond gossip of the week. That person who has a massive vacuum of space surrounding them in an overcrowded office making hot deskers skit to the store cupboard.
All hail the office weirdo.
The office weirdo is usually an introvert or deemed as socially awkward. A bit like the kid who didn’t do well at PE and screwed up a school play. They’re the ones most love to not quite hate but wouldn’t want around either. Everyone knows a weirdo when they see one – first impressions count and for the office weirdo it’s a countdown to a lot of hostility.
Society can be forgiven for using the office weirdo as a scapegoat. After all, who else can they use? The bully, the gossip, the passive aggressive backstabbers cause more corporate damage but are part of everyday employment. They still have habits and hobbies people can relate to. Their colleagues know what kind of behaviour to expect from them. No one knows what goes in the mind of a true office weirdo nor wants to know. Think weird, think someone going berserk with a shotgun-usually the perpetrator is the quiet one who sits in the corner watching re runs of Star Trek when they get home. But are they really?
I’m an office weirdo. It has cost me promotions, potential friends and the odd bonus or two -regardless of how well I do my job. Despite the common belief, I have never been tempted to bring a lightsaber to work. Most office weirdos, although usually not articulate in social situations are seen as intelligent but very dull. At best, through gritted teeth there are those who will acknowledge us as highly skilled but would never admit it. We are made to feel that we should be grateful for having a job in the first place. Therefore if you stick out like a sore thumb, keep schtum and don’t complain unless you want a P45 sans reference.
But why can’t we weird ones just try to be normal? Why indeed. Hear this normal folks, not everyone is interested in diets, sunbeds, watching football and the latest Godawful celeb being kicked off a reality show. If only I could apologise for us weirdos having personal taste unidentical to yours. Really, if only us geekazoids would feel a twinge of guilt everytime we chilled out to a proper rock classic or watched the latest fantasy flick with your disapproval looming over our shoulders during our spare time. What was that mantra? ‘Be yourself’. Only if you fit into a mould more solid than a set of icecubes at the back of an undefrosted freezer. Its not that we look down on what’s conventional. It’s just not our taste. If we were to drag you into conversations involving a bunch of Bronies and quantum physics, you’d probably feel like banging your head against the desk too, keyboard pieces flying all over the place. Now imagine that all surpressed helplessness in our frail little lifeforms. That’s how we feel everytime Fifty Shades of Gray is mentioned as a sex story-and don’t get me started on how the real Dominatrix’s feel about that. You don’t need to share our interests unless you want to, but it does get to the point that when we say Hello, even without a Spock handshake, the only response we get is a face that looks like we’ve nuked your pet pooch.
Office weirdos are often accused as being unsociable creatures which is far from the case. There will always be that shy kid who hands out birthday invites only to have people turn them down and that is exactly how an Office Weirdo feels when initiating an office social event. We feel that mainstream colleagues would be embarrassed to be seen with us-its an unspoken rule that hanging out with the office weirdo means immediate loss of social brownie points. You can’t sit with us, not because we don’t want you to, but you choose not to. The most common social tip for Office Weirdos is to find ‘our own kind’ to hang out with like we’re a bunch of patients in a biohazard ward. Because a normal reputation is too precious to be marred by travesties such as an extra sense of character let alone be seen with someone harbouring its toxicity.
There are many workplaces that would breathe a sigh of relief if it were easy to fire their favourite unemployable oddball. I, and a few other weirdos would gladly welcome the break too plus a company top up for my dole money. Just don’t complain about us being scroungers when you do get your wish in sending us to the Job Centre queue.
So what do us office weirdos want? We can’t change for the world and we’re not going to – if you get over that fact then you’re halfway there. Likewise, we’re not interested in changing the mainstream. Sure a majority of us seem aloof and distant-treat us that way and that’s what you get. If you actually are going to lower the bar and talk to us, try to ask us something new and different. The amount of times I have personally seen colleagues frantically Google about activities I have done five years ago is countless. We may even be able to chuck in some trivia about your favourite soap opera too or tell you the nearest museum to help with your current University course. A majority of us Odd Ones feel that we don’t have the right to speak without being labelled as ‘Know It Alls’. Because really, why show off what’s in your grey cells when you can show off your latest Lacroix gear instead? Believe it or not, once we feel confident with being able to use our vocal chords without judgement, we won’t be the waffling idiots you think we are.
Most of all, what us office weirdos want is for you to include us. Not necessarily as a best buddy or even as a friend though that would be nice too. We’re not stupid-the overlooked invites to brunches, Starbucks coffee runs and banter in the pub are quite obvious. Not to mention the birthdays and congratulations mentioned in disproportionate measures – did it hurt to say a little greeting to us while planning a birthday bash for the office jock on the same day as ours?
Perhaps I am committing career suicide by stating this. For you Office Weirdos out there – and you know who you are – wear that title with pride. I have. It may earn you at best, fondness from those with an open mind. More often than not however it leads to demotions, social isolation, distrust, vague references and even the lack of financial increment. Our normal colleagues wouldn’t survive any one of those, yet for us, its a walk in the park without a boohoo. That truly means something being the strong and unique individuals that we are.
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