I'm going to go ahead and write out a story of something that really bugged me. When you're finished reading it, I want you to think about what you would have done, and how you would have felt if it had happened to you. Or maybe just how you would respond to me telling you this. Then I'll tell you the correct response.
It all started last November when I got a job temping at Johnson & Johnson. I was the hot new kid on the campus, and obviously people took notice of me. And the people I'm talking about...is actually just one lady who makes sandwiches in the cafeteria.
I mostly kept my head down and worked, but it seems that she just took a shine to me.
It started out small, like asking how my day was. That was already pushing the threshold of my friendliness, but I'd tell her, "fine."
Now, I'm a vegetarian and a creature of habit, by the way, so I was pretty much getting the same damn cheese sandwich whenever I went to her station. Sometimes I might get a veggie burger from the guy across the room, though.
Obviously, I wasn't even safe from her then. She'd shout, "What, are you cheating on me?"
I'd look back and smile/grimace.
Then she started trying to memorize what sandwich I usually got. I'd walk up to her and start ordering, but she'd cut me off, look like she was thinking hard, and just sort of randomly blurt, "provolone...tomato...uhh...and [I'd try to jump in] Wait! Pickle? Then I'd say, "lettuce," and she'd start apologizing to me for not memorizing what I like. Loudly. While other people wait on line. I felt as though it looked like I expected her to know what I get. To other people, I just looked like a prick.
So whatever, that temp job ended, and I went on to better things (such as having Quick Chek sandwiches made by a woman I call Eyebrows Lady). About a month later, I got hired for a different job at the same J&J site.
On my first day back, the damn sandwich lady, who I had mostly forgotten about, asked me where I'd been. I told her that my last job had ended a month earlier. She looked offended and said, "and you didn't say goodbye to me?"
Christ. WE AREN'T FRIENDS!
Okay, so all that to explain this:
The other day I was on the line for a sandwich, because I don't learn. With about 5 people ahead of me, the sandwich woman notices me waiting on line. AS A BUSINESS WOMAN IS ACTIVELY ORDERING FOOD, the sandwich lady holds her finger out to silence the her, turns to me, and holds up one of the rolls I usually get my sandwich on,
"Hey! Here, take this, just in case I run out of it by the time you get up to me."
She said it with urgency that suggested there'd be hell to pay if I didn't get my fucking olive bread, with a twist of doing me a huge favor. So I had to walk through the 5 people ahead of me to take the roll. It was just strange enough to attract the attention of all the bored/boring office people.
A sweaty guy joked, "Hey, no cuts! Heh...heh..."
Some giant went, "Well! I guess we know what YOU'RE ordering!"
A lady, speaking WAY too loud says, "Hey, always good to have someone in the cafeteria looking out for you!" Her voice actually echoed.
And the last guy gives me a fucking pat on the back as I walk back to my place in line.
The worst part is that I could easily see a whole stack of that type of roll.
Office jokes are so stupid and irritating. They're not even jokes, they're mostly just basic observations, spoken through a smirk.
So that's it. I know it's not a big deal or anything, but it is annoying. It's as annoying as any brief interaction can be. Wouldn't you hate that?
And now here's the correct response to me telling you this story:
"What the hell is wrong with you?"
That's what my girlfriend said. And unfortunately, she's right.
"So that woman just tries to talk to you and asks you how you are, and you hate her? She tried to do you a favor and make sure you got the bread you like, and that pisses you off? I don't know why you tell me these things."
"And then those people tried to be friendly and joke around with you, but you just frown like a weirdo?"
I think I stammered here. Or grunted like a caveman.
"Honestly I think you're a little agoraphobic."
"What, no, you're crazy."
"No, Will, you always tell me these stupid stories about something that freaked you out and it's always like 'someone smiled at me,' and they always end with you talking about how horrible that was. Seriously, I don't know how I'm supposed to respond to this."
"Well, I thought it was funny."
"What are you going to do when we have kids? What are you going to do if you have to go to a parent-teacher meeting, and I can't go? Are you just going to sit next to the other parents and frown?"
I was about to answer, but -
"And then you're going to come home and I'll have to hear all about it?"
To be fair, I'm completely aware of the fact that it's irrational for me to freak out in situations like this, and I usually neglect to mention the part where I contributed to the stupid office humor and got along with everyone. But I can't divorce myself from finding these little teeny interactions worthless and annoying. I feel like it should really be acceptable to say to people,
"I don't mean to be rude, but, oh god...you're really weird. You're being weird toward me. Stop it."
So that's how you should have responded, but I really hope you relate to me about all of this.
I've got some work to do. For starters, no more sandwiches.