I know that if you were to gauge who I am as a person based on my social engagement… someone would probably place me in the extrovert spectrum. That is very much not the case, or more so that I have learned over the years to figure out ways of tricking myself of being more outgoing… especially online. There is something safe about engaging someone when you know that you can simply close a window and log out of a game… and get some much needed personal space. In the real world I have managed to come up with similar tricks that shift me into a more “normal” seeming person, but underneath my skin is often crawling and I am looking for a way to escape out of the room and into my nice and sheltered cubical.
For the first several years of working where I work, there was this nice and quiet path that no one took to reach the restrooms. I could skirt along the back of the rows of cubicles and was one of maybe a dozen people that ever used that route. However roughly a year ago we went through this massive juggling of cubes, and the negative fallout of this is that the project managers now have big open cubes facing the windows… and as a result facing the one safe escape route to the bathroom. I’ve spent the last year trying to find the best route that takes me nearest the fewest number of cubes, and as such avoiding the maximum amount of small talk. There are mornings it works, and there are mornings it fails spectacularly. The route I end up navigating is contorted and includes a feigned checking of my mailbox in the copy room. I have received maybe two pieces of mail in the nearly decade that I have worked here, but it allows me to duck into safety and avoid random discussion.
There is one person in particular that seems to throw a monkey wrench in this plan constantly, and if I had a nemesis he would probably be it. I realize he is well meaning and is probably doing his own act of attempting to “seem normal” and engage in appropriate levels of eye contact and vocal discourse. However no amount of avoidance or dodging ever seems to stop the constant onslaught of random water cooler discussion from him about things we have zero points of reference on. Once upon a time I went to a basketball game as a favor to my wife, and from that point on I was branded as giving a fuck about sports. So in his attempt to gain favor and influence other human beings, he has filed away in his brain that he should talk sports… even though I have never once had anything even vaguely close to an appropriate response to him. I can’t even fake an understanding of pretty much any sport that is not baseball, and even then I only have a surface level understand based on playing little league ball and once upon a lifetime ago working in a sports card shop.
There are days it is extremely hard to swallow down the rage and frustration of having to navigate around this guy… only to get strapped with a random conversation. He probably doesn’t even know how much it infuriates me, because being male means I should be operating within certain parameters. Were he a geek, we could probably be friends… because he seems like someone who is probably overcompensating for his own shortcomings in trying to be a “normal male”. Problem being I just don’t care enough to try and find out if this theory is correct, and instead just want to be left alone to exist in my own quiet bubble without having to summon forth a carpet of bullshit to spew as I walk to the bathroom. Of note… he is absolutely the sort of person who will strike up a conversation at the urinals.