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Lonely Among Us

June 22, 2010

Usually when I talk to family or friends about work, they do all the talking.  This isn’t because my job is dull; in fact, just the opposite (well, to me anyway…I’m not so sure that other people are as fascinated by researching sweat glands as I am). For most people, though, conversations about the workplace center around the catty coworker or the idiot boss, and I have neither.  It makes me feel a bit left out sometimes, so since I can’t complain about my coworkers, I’ll complain about my lack thereof instead.

It seems  silly of me to complain at all, considering that I chose to take the self-employment route partly because I have trouble dealing with workplace drama. When I was a waitress, I could take abuse from my customers until the grill closed, but when my coworkers started to bicker and backstab and play the blame game, it made me retreat into the walk-in refrigerator for a round of kick-the-box-of-frozen-bacon.  Usually I wasn’t even the subject of their vicious chatter, but it would still really stress me out. In every waitressing job I’ve ever had, I followed a cycle: first, I got really frustrated listening to the other servers argue about who DIDN’T restock the salad bar and who FORGOT to refill the soda machine with ice. Second, I would restock the goddamn salad bar and pour more ice in the soda machine, just to shut them up. A few weeks later, suddenly I found myself doing so many little side jobs that I felt extremely overwhelmed, and a few weeks after that, I was pretty much burned out.

So here I am. I chose to be here not only because I want to write for a living, but also because I suffer from social anxiety and I hate being around jerks. I do all my work over the computer. I never talk to my boss(es), or my editors. Every once in a while I shoot them an email and they reply, or vice versa. Every Thursday my landlord mows the lawn and sometimes I step outside to say hello to him. Sometimes I hang out and have coffee with my mom or my dad. And that’s about all the actual human contact I have during a normal work week.

I might be avoiding all the jerks, but I’m also managing to avoid all the potentially cool people out there (not to mention, potential clients).  Additionally, being the worrier that I am, sometimes I find myself wondering if my already tenuous grip on appropriate social behavior is loosening. After all, my job does not demand that I be polite to anyone, or even that I wear clothes.  One day soon, someone will walk up to me and say, “Hi,” and I’ll say, “Personally, I’m a social liberal and a fiscal conservative, but at the same time I think most libertarians are full of bull pucky. Also, your hair is ugly.”

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