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Respect

Something happened at work yesterday that I don’t quite understand.

You might not realize this about me, but social situations are awkward. I don’t play well with others. I have a hard time hiding my irritation when confronted with Stupid or Ignorant and this can make people tense around me. Small talk is not easy for me, as I don’t follow sports, forensic TV shows or politics when I can avoid it. I don’t go to church, did not attend a nearby college, and don’t have any hobbies that involve guns, trucks or beer. This makes me an obvious social dud ’round these parts.

Over the years I have learned to just keep my mouth shut whenever possible.

All of the guys here are Nice Men – there is no tension or malice in them, none of the narc traits I know so well, just a bunch of nice guys who don’t talk dirty or make inappropriate comments or jokes. They don’t badmouth anyone or cuss or show up drunk or hungover. Now that I think about it, it’s kinda creepy. I wonder which one of them is a serial killer? Just kidding! I feel very comfortable around all of them and feel that we work well as a team.

Everyone uses names when speaking to each other. Like, a lot. “Good morning, Sofia,” etc. Constantly. It kinda freaks me out. I mean, we all know who we are, right? It feels stilted and formal to me, but maybe it’s normal?

Also, every time I leave my little room and walk to another area, the guys all clear a path like I’m the Queen or something. I mean, they really get out of the way – flattening themselves up against the wall, ducking back into doorways, making an elaborate display of letting me pass.

Do I smell? I haven’t bowled anyone over in years, so they shouldn’t be afraid that I’ll run into them. Are they afraid that I’ll grope them? Do I look like I have a disease or condition that is contagious? Is my expression threatening? I don’t think so, but…

So yesterday Kyle came out of the copier room as I was going by and he jumped back, making a noise through his nose like he was annoyed.

I joked, “Ha! Didn’t run into you that time, either!”

“It’s respect, Sofia!” he snapped.

I laughed because, really? He’s Number One (if The Boss is the Captain) at this company and if anything, I should show him respect, so WTF? He was plainly annoyed and tight-jawed the rest of the day and I found my stomach in knots all night over the incident, if it can be called that.

Is this some sort of social ritual that I don’t recognize? Am I a total social nerd? Okay, I am, but surely I would have noticed this kind of behavior before reaching the grand old age of 44!

Why in the world would these men be treating me this way? I am no delicate flower, wilting at the slightest touch. I don’t burst into tears or otherwise get emotional if I can’t get to the copier before someone else. I am not the Queen here (that would be The Boss’ wife) and I don’t think I put on an attitude that suggests I feel superior in any way to any of my co-workers, but I could be wrong – my Social Skills module has been known to be faulty on occasion…

It just feels strange and I need your opinion, dear readers. Do I just accept this treatment because it’s not a backhanded compliment, but is sincere and the way Normal People act in an office environment, or is something else going on that I don’t recognize? What’s it like in your office?

 
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Posted by on December 10, 2013 in right?, Social Interaction

 

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