Dear 100 Hour Board,
I just got a very weird new coworker, and was wondering if you had any good advice for dealing with people who drive you crazy, but who you have to spend all day with. Alternatively, any good stories about weird people you've worked with?
I can't say I've ever had any coworkers as weird as the one you just got (thank heavens, because he sounds truly awful*), but nonetheless I shall try and scrounge up some advice on how to tolerate this guy.
Well, as you're well aware, it's been some time since I first started writing anything, and now you only have one more month where you need to put up with this guy. Clearly I haven't been able to think up any good advice... (sorry about that). On the bright side, though, you now have a plethora of great stories!
*Note to the readers: Alta is my sister, and so she's shared in depth stories about this coworker with me; it's from these stories that I'm saying this guy sounds so awful.
Write down all the stories of what happens, save them, then send them to the Reader's Digest for a few extra bucks.
As for a story:
Once upon a time there lived a man named Michael*. Michael quite enjoyed staring at himself at a mirror, practicing mocking sneers (all meant for women, of course), and loving books entitled Men Explain Things to Me (though he never opened it). He was well-known among the TAs of Web Design 5000**—that is, the female TAs. For whenever a female TA was alone in the room, he would barge through the door, fling his notes across her table, and shout at her for giving him the wrong information. He would rant and rave at the grades he received (only to the female TAs, of course). The male TAs were treated to Michael's wide smile and warm handshake, though they were all of a strange breed of men who thought women were human, so they too knew of and believed Michael's antics.
Michael quite enjoyed going to his roommate's office and mocking him in front of his co-workers. And it was in this situation that Michael met guppy. guppy was an insignificant female—or so Michael thought, as she was, you know, female. guppy didn't realize at that moment how wonderful it was to be deemed as unimportant by Michael. All she knew was how uncomfortable she felt when Michael stomped into the room and made snide comments about her friend and coworker John.* She knew the only reason Michael was allowed in their office was because he and John studied together, and she was grateful the semester was nearly done.
But as fate would have it, guppy would see much, much more of Michael in the upcoming semester. For the professor she and John worked for had hired Michael. Apparently Michael made John recommend him, or John had freely recommended Michael (likely due to Stockholm syndrome), but either way, guppy was stuck with Michael for a whole semester.
Michael was, for the most part, bearable. His tendency to undercut guppy's comments and experience during meetings was, most gratefully, met with resistance from Professor Diamond*, who often voiced his disapproval of Michael privately with guppy. She ignored his backhanded compliments and brushed off his attempts to showcase himself as the senior assistant, though she had several more years of experience. But she couldn't help but stare with incredibility when Michael smugly commented to her about the women who were always watching him in his classes. And her blood boiled when her friends, former TAs for Web Design 5000, described Michael's horrifying treatment of them.
But oh, dear readers, how wonderful a thing is karma.
It was time for Professor Diamond to determine which of his employees would continue on. And so he turned to his most trusted advisor. And as much as Michael believed he was the most intelligent and correct of all the employees (not to mention out of all the students at BYU), he was shoved aside for the employee who had worked for Professor Diamond the most: guppy. And though guppy would have loved to tell the tale of how she single-handedly stopped a chauvinist in his tracks, that glory actually falls to Professor Diamond. You see, Professor Diamond had noticed all Michael's snide comments and sneers, and had no intention of hiring him back, so guppy simply nodded her head when Professor Diamond asked if she agreed with that decision.
And so it was.
And guppy smiled.
But wait! The story does not stop there! For Michael was hired on by another professor, who either had heard the stories and (perhaps unwisely) chose to give this young man another chance, or had heard the stories and just didn't care. (guppy knows the professor, and believes it to be the latter.) One day Michael ventured up to the office where guppy worked to ask Artemis* a question about Horses*. Artemis was a master of Horses. Indeed, she was so well-known in the land of BYU for being so great at Horses that even professors would ask her for help. And so Michael was torn. On one hand, he had a question about Horses that was crucial for his job, and he did not know the answer. On the other hand, he was Michael, the genius of all, and no female would ever have more knowledge than he. But desperation won out, and so he came seeking Artemis.
Artemis had had several encounters with Michael in the past, all of which nearly replicated the experiences of the TAs of Web Design 5000 and guppy. But she was kind and forgiving, and answered Michael's question immediately.
But Michael would not have it. He remembered the book title he so fondly loved (Men Explain Things to Me, if you've forgotten), and without a moment's delay he told Artemis why her solution would never work. Artemis rolled her eyes and shrugged, popping her headphones back in as Michael ranted on and on about why he knew Horses would not work that way.
A day later Artemis was walking through the hallway and overheard Michael and his professor discussing how they could fix the problem with Horses. (Artemis had also had experiences with the professor, which mirrored those she had with Michael.) Neither knew the solution to the problem. But Artemis did. And if Michael wasn't so eager to explain Horses to her, he and his professor would have known too.
And Artemis smiled.
-guppy of doom
*name has definitely been changed
**course has definitely been changed
I try to remember that those people can learn to socialize more effectively and they have a better chance of doing so if I treat them well. I focus on helping them feel heard and appreciated. If they say or do anything particularly egregious I call them on it. If there is that positive groundwork and trust, they can learn from that input with much less anxiety/despair. Most awko-tacos have some awareness that people don't get them so they pick up on small cues that you don't like them and it makes the problem worse. If the cues are subtle enough we notice them, feel them, but then have no way to talk about or learn from them. So then the anxiety gets worse and worse and we say dumber and dumber things. It also makes us defensive when we feel like we're trying our best but we can't get a break.
Stay focused and get your job done. But ask some questions. Try to learn something from them. Be an ally and keep your boundaries. Best of luck!
This isn't a personal experience, but The Office is basically an entire show about weird coworkers. While I wouldn't recommend it as advice, all of Jim's pranks on Dwight are super hilarious and show case one way to deal with coworkers that get on you nerves. It's not really a good way though. Come to think of it, if you want to know the right way to deal with coworkers you could probably just watch The Office and then do the opposite of what most everyone in the show does. Either way, The Office is hilarious.