This morning we had a benefits enrollment meeting at work to discuss health insurance coverage. As the meeting was winding down, our HR lady asked if there were any questions. I had an overwhelming urge to respond, What if you have a preexisting condition that is highly contagious in enclosed quarters? Can you still get coverage? Please say yes. Would have been worth it to see my coworker’s reactions, but alas, I chickened out at the last minute. I’m trying to walk the straight and narrow, at least until I’ve had my 90-day review.
You have no idea how difficult this is for me.
I’ve always been the office prankster. I was Jim on The Office before either Jim or The Office even existed. I’m the guy who used a liberal dose of ketchup (and some impassioned screams) to pretend he’d chopped off his finger with the paper cutter. I feigned blindness once during a meeting with a vendor, bumping into things and repeatedly calling her “sir.” Carefully laid out a mirror, a razor blade, and a “line” of flour on my boss’s desk to make it appear he was a cokehead. I created nametags for empty cubicles, fake hires with ridiculous names like Chunky Abernathy and Pineapple Jones. Don’t even get me started on the intercom system at my last job. That sucker was like my own personal toy – and oh, how I liked to play with it!
The point is, I’ve always enjoyed having fun and making people laugh. Life is too short to walk around with a stick up your ass all the time, and I’ve never been one to draw boundaries when it comes to the workplace. I’ve always been careful not to offend anybody or take things too far (though my “cocaine-snorting” supervisor completely failed to see the humor in what I thought was a damn funny joke, and gave me a stern talking-to afterwards).
This should come as no surprise after my recent post about having fun with telemarketers. (By the way, when Tara and I were up in Seattle last weekend, her mom got a call from a telemarketer and I answered with “911, what’s your emergency?” Much hilarity ensued. And then my favorite pharmacy called, and I was peppering the woman with questions regarding the merits of Cialis vs. Viagra, asking “which one offers the better boner experience?” Man, I love messin’ around with these guys!).
Still, I’m trying to be good at work and not rock the boat. Although, I’m not sure why. This is by far the most relaxed, laid-back, and chill atmosphere in which I’ve ever worked. Take the dress code, for example. It’s very straightforward: come to work wearing something. The CEO walks around in shorts and flip-flops. It’s very liberating wearing jeans, rock ‘n roll t-shirts, and Chuck Taylors. Can’t believe I used to wear slacks, dress shirts, and ties to work back in the 90s. How times have changed!
And then, there was the meeting I had last Friday. A couple of guys from one of our record labels were passing through town and wanted to stop by to meet me and check out our corporate headquarters. I came back from lunch and they were waiting for me in the conference room. Forget the business suits and briefcases; these guys had flannel shirts and beanies and beards and tattoos. And they brought along the lead singer from one of their label’s rock bands, a really cool guy named Tony whom I quickly bonded with. I love music industry types; they had probably never seen a “real” office before. While giving them the tour they all chuckled over our quiet little cubicle farm, and Tony asked whether I’d finished my TPS reports yet.
Ahh, long live rock ‘n roll.
Anyway, we talked about the vinyl revolution and they shared funny stories about some of their artists and they gave me a t-shirt and promised to send a signed poster and a couple of limited-edition records and other swag my way and, I swear, it was the best freakin’ meeting of my life. I was able to relate to those guys in a way I never could with people at other companies I’ve worked for, and it all boiled down to our mutual passion for music. Then yesterday, Tony e-mailed me from Europe, where his band is touring, to touch base and let me know he wants to pick my brain about a few things when he returns to the States. I try to act nonchalant over this sort of thing – ho-hum, corresponding with rock stars? Yawn… – but secretly I’m giddy as a schoolboy. Just ask Tara. And I’m really trying to be low key about it, because as I was telling my buddy Kevin Murphy of The Moondoggies when we chatted after their show in August if there’s one thing I hate, it’s a name-dropper.
LOL. I kid.
I have no illusions that I’m anybody other than a low-paid sales and marketing coordinator for an independent music distribution company in Portland, Oregon. No, I don’t own a red Swingline stapler, but I have fantasized about taking a baseball bat to certain pieces of office equipment occasionally. I’m hardly a mover and a shaker (unless The Bee Gees come on the radio…hell yeah, I wanna put on my my my my my boogie shoes). I just think it’s cool that I’ve made some contacts that may not be storming up the Billboard charts but are, at least, doing what they love, and are poised to break through to wider acclaim. It’s a great gig, and I’m enjoying the ride.
Excuse me now, I’ve gotta go. We have a new employee starting tomorrow, and I have to make sure Salty McGriddlecakes’ cubicle is all set up…