Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Apparently, my place in the world as a social leper actually *is* set in stone.

You know those people who are always just the light of the party? The people who just make everything fun no matter what or where or who or why? The girl who everyone says, "man, this party is lame... where's so-and-so? She would make it awesome!" Well, I am the opposite of that girl.

I'm the girl that makes people say, "Well, we were all having a good time, until she got here."

You think I'm exaggerating. That's fair enough; I am prone to exaggeration, particularly when writing blog posts. But seriously. I'm not kidding. I think that exact phrase has been uttered about me, and well more than once.

Granted, it's not usually actual parties where this happens, although yeah, sometimes it's actual parties. More often it's those pseudo-social situations that we're constantly thrown into: school and work.

Does it really happen that often? you're thinking. I'll put it this way. I started trying to count incidents - not the little ones, but only the big ones which resulted in yelling or even ended friendships - and I had to stop after ten. It was too depressing to continue.

Why does it happen so much? Is this girl just a total bitch? Well... that might be part of it. But really, I'm not a bitch. I don't think I'm better than anybody. I try to be people's friend. I try to be sociable. But something about me, the way I work, my OCD tendencies / perfectionism, something, creates this situation where I'm - OK, there's really no other way to say this - just doing a lot more work than the people around me. And that always leads to trouble.

I've mentioned that work has been completely crazy lately. Well, it's not getting any better - and it's making my migraines worse, woo! So already I'm in a situation where I have far more work than one person can be expected to do (this is bad enough that my bosses actually acknowledge it's true), and my body is limiting my capacity to do it. OK. Let's add on, now, the fact that I basically sit in a hallway. It's an enclave in a hallway, but really, I'm right there out in the open, in front of a printer and scanner and beside filing cabinets, all of which are used by at least eight other people.

In and of itself, that seating arrangement would be bad enough, yes? Well here's the really fun part. I sit behind a secretary who's worked for the firm for 17 years. I love her; she's great. And because she's great she's very, very popular. So popular, in fact, that throughout the day congregations form around her desk. These can be made up of as few as two or as many as seven or eight people, telling stories and laughing and checking out things on the internet and just having a grand old time.

Enter the Party Destroyer - ME! Little old me, crammed back in front of the printer, trying desperately to get the interrogatory requests drafted so that I can get back to entering the deposition testimony into the goddamn case chart that was supposed to be finished last week so that I can get back to working on the 90 exhibit lists (literally) that have to be served at the end of next week.

Can I concentrate with eight people standing 10 feet from my desk acting like they're already at happy hour? No, not really. Have I asked them to disperse because it's making it hard to do my work at least 5 times over the past several months? Yes I have. Have I had several to many conversations with that very popular secretary about the situation? Yes, I've done that as well. Does that stop this situation from occurring several times every single day? No it doesn't. Have I tried using earplugs, listening to music, or simply trying to tune them out? Yes I have. Has it done any damn good at all? No, not a shred.

As you may have guessed, one of these little incidents occurred today. Well, really, like four of them occurred today, but it was the last one that finally broke me. I went in to work today with a migraine trying to dance its way into my skull, me doing my best to keep it at a manageable level while staring at a computer screen, sitting under raging flourescent lighting. At that point in the afternoon I wanted to curl into a ball and at least cry, but there was still work to do. And I was trying to do it. But every time the throbbing in my head allowed me to have a cognizant thought, it was immediately swiped away by the carrying on of the three paralegals and two attorneys (yeah) who were then accumulated at the front of my little alcove.

Could I have spoken up, yet again, to let them know I had work to do and they were making it impossible? Sure. But jesus. It's a ridiculously awkward position to be in, day in and day out. It's embarassing and makes me feel like a jerk every single time. And, you know, I always have work to do. How do I tell them that every single time they're standing there chatting, they're fucking up my world? If you can tell me a gracious way to have that conversation, you just let me know.

So what did happen? Well, I'm social friends with one of the attorneys that I work for. (She is a workaholic like me, and therefore does not shun me like others do.) It happened to be her I was trying to get something done for at that moment, and she and I both happened to be on chat. So I sent her a message, something to the effect of not being able to concentrate with all these people talking in front of my desk. It's something we've talked about before; she uses the printer behind me and so is well acquainted with the clusters that accumulate. She told me to tell them to go away. The logical response, sure. I responded with something about how it's just a really awkward situation; what I didn't mention is how I just wasn't emotionally or physically up to dealing with it.

Well, she took matters into her own hands. She came over, broke up the crowd, and spoke to a couple of them where I couldn't see or hear what was happening. A couple of minutes later she wrote to me, saying "there, now they hate you and not me."

If only.

It was a good effort on her part, and I appreciate that she was trying to help, but effectively now I've told teacher. They all hate me - enough to where one of them came to tell me that it was 'not appreciated' before leaving for the day. (It was a good bit more elaborate than that, but I can't remember what all he said because I was crying when he said it.)

Jesus fuck. Seriously. "Social Leper" might as well be carved into my forehead. Particularly upsetting, since with these particular people I've gone out of my way since coming back to the office in October to make nice and be as much a part of the group as I have time for. I know I'm sitting in their public space - it's effectively like I'm the girl sleeping on the living room couch. But I didn't choose it, and there's nowhere else for me to go. The firm has seriously outgrown the offices we're in; there literally isn't another desk.

But here's the thing. How completely unfair is this? Why should I have to explain to people, grown adult people with jobs at a law firm, almost all of whom SIT IN OFFICES WITH DOORS AND NOT IN THE FUCKING HALLWAY, and none of whom work anything approaching the hours that I work, that, hey, it's not OK to stand around in the hallway and socialize for 20 minutes to a half hour at a time, multiple times a day, loudly enough that it interferes with other people's work? I shouldn't have to, of course.

There's nothing I can do. No escape. I work hard, everyone hates me for it, the end. It has been this way since grade school. Group project? All that means is I do all the work, get an A for the three or four others who were in the group and did nothing, and then get teased and taunted by them for the rest of the year for being a "geek". Why does nothing ever change?

Alright, so I am the Grand Annihilator of Fun. At least now that they already hate me I can stop holding back when they're annoying the piss out of me and just say something about it every time. What's the difference? They're obviously never going to like me anyway - my efforts to be included were met with lukewarm politeness, and now it's all shot to shit. The damage is done.

1 comment:

Tamarinara said...

you are sooooo not a fun sponge! work sucks all around for everyone. you coming to a party always brightens my party!