Friday, July 30, 2004

Tales of the Strange: Inappropriate Workplace Conversations

I'm sitting here trying to remember how the conversation I'm about to relay got started. Somewhere, somehow a door was opened. A doorway to someplace terrible. Like one of those space-bending Cthulu* stories. But more disquieting.

A bit of background here. As some of you know, I work as a secretary (excuse me - 'assistant') at a small brokerage firm here in San Francisco. It pays me bills, provides a paycheck, and is the kind of work I can forget about entirely when I walk out the frosted glass doors at 5:00.

Overall, I like the people I work with. Brokerage tend to have a bit of a frat house/locker room atmosphere, but I pride myself (to an extent) on being the kind of girl who can hear dirty jokes and ribald anecdotes without batting an eye. Words can't hurt me. And some of those jokes are pretty fucking funny.

Anyway, there's this one guy in my office. I'll call him Tom ('cause that's his name). If my lines are ever crossed, he's the one doing it. And the thing that gets me is that he has no freakin' clue where those lines are. I've met homeless transvestite schizophrenics with more tact. I'm not kidding.

So. Sometime today, I get cornered into a conversation with Tom. He's at my desk with no sign of leaving. We're having this stupid argument about the words 'awful' and 'offal.' Tom maintains that when people use the word 'awful' to mean 'terrible,' they really mean 'offal,' since awful really means 'awe-full,' or awe-inspiring. I am holding the line that while 'awesome' and 'awful' may have been synonyms once upon a time, the current usage of awful is fairly widely accepted. Plus, terror and awe are synonyms, form time to time.

Anyway. Somehow, this conversation takes a turn. And I do mean for the worse. I forget how or why, but suddenly, I see it coming - Tom's going to tell me an anecdote. About sex. And there's nothing I can do to stop him.

I turn my eyes toward my computer screen. Oh dear, he's going there. I make noncommittal noises. He's going into graphic detail. I'm trying not to look at him. Oh. No.

And then he laughs and saunters away, obviously feeling like he just told a great story. That he just showed his studly side.

Ugh. Cluelesness. God's gift to the truly offal.

* my spell check tinks Cthulu should be "cutely." How droll.

No comments: