The Day My Office Stood Still

I don’t really like my job. I know that this doesn’t make me a unique American (or human being), but I will say that the majority of my friends seem to be getting something out of their daily worklife, or at the very least have coworkers at the office with whom they can commiserate. There are several people in my age group at my office, but they mostly seem to talk about the television show The Jersey Shore. I’m still not entirely sure what that show is, but as far as I can tell, it’s a show that brings other people together and leaves me eating a Subway sandwich at my desk alone each day.* The show does not sound particularly interesting to me. It’s not that I don’t like television. I love television. But they don’t seem to watch anything else. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve walked into our break room and heard “Did you guys see Jersey Shore last night? Can you believe what (insert ridiculous name) did? What a slut! I hope that jerk gets punched in the face.” It’s not as if I think I’m above them or anything. I’m not walking into the break room each morning saying something like “Did you guys read Albert Camus’ The Stranger last night? Can you believe what (insert French name) did? What a merde! I hope that jerk gets guillotined.” Clearly, from that last sentence, you can tell that I’ve never even read The Stranger, nor do I have a firm grasp on French culture.

Vive Le Subway et les Sandwiches de 30.48 Centimetres pour 5 Euros!

Vive Le Subway et les Sandwiches de 30.48 Centimetres pour 5 Euros!

Anyway, something particularly embarrassing happened recently. I took some time off from work and went to San Francisco to visit a friend of mine and his girlfriend, Sarah. They’re a very sweet couple and I got to know Sarah a little better who told me all about being pregnant. She told me that she’s still doing yoga, that the baby kicks all the time, that she has strange cravings for pineapple and that they’re thinking that the kid is going to be a girl.

It was an amazing trip, but unfortunately I had to return to New York and my job. On the day I returned, we had a staff meeting. I had developed a pretty bad cold while I was on the west coast, and my throat was very scratchy and my sinuses all worked up. I was also a little nauseous that day, so I sat in my chair at the meeting kind of hunched over in pain. There was a woman at my office who was quite far along in her pregnancy as well, and while waiting for my boss to come to the conference room to start the meeting, everyone was asking her questions about her baby. Nothing gets people more excited than a pregnant lady, and people were throwing out all sorts of questions about pregnancy. I suddenly realized that this was my chance to participate in a group conversation! I had just been with a pregnant woman and could probably formulate an intelligent question to ask my pregnant coworker. From all corners of the room, people were asking about what names she wanted to give the baby, what color they were going to paint the baby’s room, is she was having a baby shower, etc. But there was a question on my mind that hadn’t been asked yet. I knew that I had to act fast. Without bothering to sit up or clear my throat or anything, I found a brief moment of silence in the conversation and belted out:

“Whaat are your craaavingss?”

Everyone stopped talking. I had blurted it out without thinking about the fact that I sounded (and looked) like E.T. after Drew Barrymore had just taught him to speak his first words. There was something incredibly alien about the phrasing of the sentence too. I didn’t say “are there any weird foods that you’ve been eating?” or “my mom ate tons of celery and peanut butter while she was pregnant with me. Anything like that happen to you?” No. I instead thought the best way to communicate my thought was to ask this woman, who I had only spoken to twice in my life, what her “cravings” were. It was like I was a Martian studying human office culture and was trying my best to go incognito as their coworker. The only thing that would have been worse would have been if I had added the words “earth female” on to the end of my sentence.

What followed was thirty seconds of deafening silence. Thirty seconds doesn’t sound like a long time, but it was an eternity. Luckily, she was nice enough to respond “Jello” after that. We continued to wait in silence until my boss walked in, and the meeting began. The minute it was over I returned to my desk and kept my head down for the rest of the day. I wasn’t going to do anything else to further my new reputation as the office creepshow.

A week went by, and I continued to keep to myself mostly. One Wednesday however, a group of women from my office stopped next to my desk. I looked up at them and smiled timidly. They all had big grins on their faces. One of them, through muffled giggles, told me that they were all going to lunch and asked if I wanted to join them. “An olive branch!” I thought to myself. I accepted. They then discussed for a moment what kind of food they were in the mood for, before all looking down at me and asking “what are your craaaviiingggssss?”

We went for lunch that day. I was never so happy to listen to a conversation about The Jersey Shore.

*My autobiography will be entitled Five Dollar Footlongs at a Table For One.

7 responses to “The Day My Office Stood Still”

  1. Wargames Computer Voice says:

    Perhaps if there is time next casual Friday you could gather your coworkers and ask, “Shall we play a game?”

  2. Dave says:

    This is hilarious.

    Why don’t you just break down and watch Jersey Shore?

  3. Andrew says:

    I should. I’m finally watching The Wire now though, and I’m not sure the two would couple so well together.

  4. swells says:

    Talk about LOL. This one made me LOL with a horrified frown while laughing at the same time. Really funny!! But by the way, I don’t think that was such a strange question that you asked! (but I’m glad you made it into this story just so I could read that part about talking about the Stranger around the water cooler!)

  5. lane says:


    there are things i really really hate about working alone. and then i read something like this and it reminds me of what i’m not having to do. offices sound so tedious.

    and yet, woking alone is tedious too . . . c’est la vie i suppose.

  6. G. says:

    A quick and horrifying intro to the world of Jersey Shore:

  7. DJ Pauly D says:

    Yo, what’s up with all the hatin’ on the Jersey Shore?! I spend hours fixing my hair for you before every episode. The least you can do is watch, ya guido-hating Camus loving freak.