Born salty

It turned out yesterday that I was in a pretty salty mood. Not unusual maybe, as I tend to that anyway, but surprising in a way given the mellow reflection leading into the office. It’s funny how it happens like that. You feel fine and have no idea that you might be in a difficult mood until you encounter people, or return to a familiar environment. Sometimes it’s just hidden because it hasn’t been exposed, and sometimes it needs a triggering event – like walking into work. That’s what happened yesterday.

There was good cause in many ways, as I described yesterday – upset with the behaviour of my immediate superior, frustrated with my efforts to find meaningful work, and exasperated in general by the inefficient practices in the office.

In that mood, it doesn’t take much to rub me up the wrong way. Yesterday it was one of the team leaders here I despise and the general touchy-feely vibe across the floor.

I’ve long despised this team leader. You could hardly create a personality more suited to offend me. She is very much a look at me character. She’s highly self-absorbed, and pontificates all day in a loud voice to anyone and everyone within the general vicinity. Unfortunately, that includes me.

She speaks with a smug, superior attitude, and a plum in her voice. She goes on explaining how she did this and did that, how clever she was doing the other, and offering up uninformed opinions that veer between the sanctimonious to the ridiculous. She is a tedious woman under the impression that she is fascinating and inflicts it upon us all. I might excuse it if she was a good operator, but she’s one of those characters happy to drop everything once she gets on a roll with her stories, which take about five minutes each and average around ten a day. She’s been around a while and is one of the more knowledgeable people here, and so I use to go to her with questions or asking that she check things. No longer. She’s too unreliable. Long denied a team of her own because of her foibles she has finally been granted one. She’s quite good at teaching them, but her inherent slackness means they tend to follow her suit. I may not look it, but I have a wasp-ish work ethic, and I can’t abide this.

Yesterday she was full-on. (Funnily enough for a long time she had a thing for me. She knows I don’t like her, though, and I suspect that affection has wilted).

The other thing was the general environment, and there’s not much I can do about that. I’m attached to a contact centre. By and large, the average contact centre employee is very different from what I’m used to. For most of my life, I’ve worked with graduates and professionals, ambitious, hungry types with strong views and a lot of energy. There’s the occasional shrinking violet, but generally, there’s a mix of alpha and beta personalities. I know it, I like it, and I thrived in it because I’m innately competitive and have a pretty uncompromising attitude. It was sometimes blunt, but mostly we were effective.

I don’t want to seem a snob, but clearly there’s a different style of person drawn to contact centre rolls, which generally have a pretty low bar and have sucked a lot of personal responsibility and initiative from the role. It seems to me that most people here are either on the way to something else or else happy to sit in their corner and know exactly what is required of them without having to think about it too much. It’s a very predictable, structured role that fits well with someone wanting a low fuss job.

There are exceptions, some strive for more, some are more innately ambitious or thoughtful or curious, and some are doing it desperate to find something better. Most aren’t though. They’re all pleasant, universally inoffensive people, bright to some degree, but incurious, somewhat timid concerning things outside their area, and with a personality, I would describe as soft. I don’t mean that in any derogatory sense. I mean they are more receptive and reactive, even the bigger personalities among them. They absorb the environment around them, rather than looking to ever disturb it.

I’m a disturber, by practice and instinct. I like to shake things up. I don’t mind being provocative. I don’t want to rest on my laurels, and I’m certainly not retiring. I’m curious and energetic and sometimes hard. I don’t want to let things be; I want to make things be. I can’t imagine being any other way, and in my heart of hearts feel some sympathy who don’t know what it’s like to feel that. This is life – do something!

I miss working in an environment where that is normal. I get no energy from this place, and I must stick out like a sore thumb – certainly, I create unfamiliar waves. I’m used to that more combative environment and the occasional positive confrontation of ideas. That’s absent here by and large, and when I make my waves, I often get looked at askance. I want to be among my peers.

Most of the people here are lovely – they’re just not me. Sometimes I feel like giving them a shake. I’m a bit bolshie sometimes suggesting to them there are greater things out there in the wide world. I urge them to explore and taste, to try things, to test the limits of themselves. Fundamentally we’re opposites. What is second nature to me is foreign to them.

That’s what got to me a bit yesterday. I miss that vibe. I want to be inspired to greater effort by a culture of excellence. I miss rubbing up against intelligent and vibrant personalities.

That’s one of the reasons I was drawn to the girl here, and probably one of the reasons she was drawn to me. She is curious and ambitious, and highly intelligent. She has a mighty work ethic and lots of energy and a desire to be more, do more. This is what I know. For me, she was one of the few I could relate too, separate even to the fact that she is also an attractive woman. I know her in so many ways, in the same way, I know myself.

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