Friday, January 19, 2007

The perky Worker

I have been trying to assimilate into the workplace culture that last few days. I have been fitting in. This involves the exchange of vague pleasantries, complaints and inquiries about plans the other Workers might have made in the time they spend away from the workplace.

The purpose of this interaction, as I understand it, is to vent steam or raise morale through the implication of shared experience. I am all for it, but must remain vigilant to participate successfully.

I was standing in the break room today, waiting behind a Worker who was filling a cup with coffee. My mind started to drift a bit. I was staring at the styrofoam cup in my hand, thinking about the origins of styrofoam and liquefied dinosaur remains. I tried to think if I had ever known what the "stryo" part meant. Was it a branding thing? I went from that to wondering what sort of utility device might one day be fashioned from my own liquefied remains, assuming the Earth outlives me.

I was in the middle of deciding that I would probably prefer to be made into playground equipment when I realized that a Worker was talking to me, and I had not been listening. This is considered rude, so I asked the her to repeat herself.

"Did you see American Idol last night?" she asked.

"No," I responded in a voice that sounded a little more horrified than I had intended. "Why would I have done that?"

"It's funny," she told me. "They had all the bad singers on."

Bad singers? I was confused. I thought the whole purpose of the program was to locate, vote upon, and eventually brand (in the marketing sense, although there may be a portion of the show involving heated metal that I have not been made aware of) an individual who was considered a good singer of mediocre pop music. The Worker explained that this is the ultimate goal, but that they fritter away huge chunks of nationally televised airtime to the showcasing of contest hopefuls who cannot perform to the standards required later on. This, apparently, is why House was not on this week.

"Why would I want to watch bad singing?" I asked slowly. I was starting to think this was an elaborate joke, and was trying to locate the eventual punchline. I mean, if I really wanted to hear bad singing, I have a radio.

"It's funny. We make fun of them."

"That's terrible! Why would you set aside time to make fun of people for lacking the ability to sing? You don't find that sort of arbitrary? Why not make fun of people for being bad swimmers? Or unlucky in love?" I was forgetting that there are plenty of shows on which an opportunity is presented to make fun of the unlucky in love.

"They really think they can sing," she replied. "It's funny."

"I'd much rather make fun of you," I said, sort of involuntarily. Realizing that this may have been a mistake, I quickly backpedaled: "Or, you know, people I know something about."

This is true. This is likely why I have few friends.

I was in over my head. Had I been alert when the question was raised, I could have said something like "Yeah, did you see that one guy?" and then made vague agreeing sounds at whatever she said until I had filled my cup and could make an exit. As it was, I had not only admitted to not watching the most popular program in the nation, I then proceeded to let slip that I have never seen an episode of any of the reality programs which have sprung up over the last several years. I answered in the negative regarding Survivor, The Bachelor, Wife Swap, Nanny 911, Cops, Who Wants to Marry My Dad? and many others. I had seen Fear Factor, because I thought it was about stunts, but when they produced the rectum from a horse and explained that the contestants were to eat it, I was done.

This was not good. This was not fitting in. I think I actually made her angry.

She flounced away, this perky Worker. She had damaged me.

I stepped up to the vacuum pump and pressed the lever to force coffee out through the spigot. The pressing of the lever suddenly seemed so much like the pressing of a much smaller lever by a mouse who has been conditioned to do so for his food.

The key to conditioning mice is that you have to be willing to let them die if they won't learn the tricks you want from them.


nmj said...

She flounced away, this perky Worker. She had damaged me.

I love this line, Moon. It reads like fiction.


And I don't believe you have few friends, you are far too charming.

CC2383 said...

American Idol is a sick joke that Fox is playing on the television watching community. Not only is the show horrible is so many ways, but they take aways time slots from the actual good shows.

But if it's not bad enough to get dragged into a conversation about Idol, it may actually be worse hearing two co-workers talking about the show. I just want to ask them why? Why does anyone watch that show?

Anonymous said...

I came here having seen you on other blogs I visit. It says in your profile to say hello so "Hello".

You're obviously a misfit and I of course like that. Please do continue not to fit in as it makes great blog (and, I hope, great life).

We have reality "shows" here but fortunately Tigger and I don't have a TV so we are protected. We put the TV sets outside and they disappeared. Then we had to fight to stop them billing us for the licence fee.

We have been to Chicago. It was just to change planes on the way to Edmonton in that funny country next door. We didn't enjoy Canada and we liked Chicago even less. Well, we only saw the airport and nearly missed our connection because of immigration control. Bad memory.

Well, that's it from me but I will pop back from time to time and see how you are doing.

Email SilverTiger

Unknown said...

Branding. Hmm, interesting concept, and one that I might just teach myself if it meant the end of the inane, brainless dross that is churned out in the name of entertainment.

And this 'fitting in' thing. Is it important? Surely it is better to ponder the the effects of ones own putrefying remains than to have to stand beside (let alone speak to) a watcher of complete tosh.
Move to England, you'll feel more comfortable here!

Nikki Neurotic said...

Good for you for not watching AI. I was forced into it last season, and I've been scarred for life by it.

Also, I have been told by my coworkers that I am worse then Simon Cowell. Can I help that I'm a music snob?

The Moon Topples said...

NMJ: And you are far too kind. I feel terrible having to admit that this conversation did not actually happen per se. It's sort of an amalgam of many conversations on this subject.

CC: My problem is not so much with the show itself or even the people who watch it. I start to have a problem when people insist that my tastes should become theirs.

Minx: I'd love to move to England, but it would cost me a lot of money and I likely couldn't get a work visa. Also, your argument is undercut slightly by the fact that nearly all of American reality television is adapted from British programming. This list includes American Idol. We even kept the host.

Silver: It never occured to me until I read you comment that American Idol and artificial intelligence share the same initials. I shall have to ponder this further.

The Moon Topples said...

SilverTiger: Oops. Bad blogger! I neglected to return your hello.

Perhaps I should have called my blog "Obvious Misfit." Has a nice ring to it.

In fairness to Chicago, you and Tigger have not actually been here. An airport and its city have very little in common. In this case, I'm guessing you flew through O'Hare, which is not even in the city.

The only example I can think of is that I loved London, but hated being in the airport there. But then, I hate airports in general. They always feel like a hugely pressurized shopping mall to me: bland and shiny and sterile.

In spite of this, I am delighted that you stopped by and said hello. I read your blog as well, but haven't yet found anything to say while there. I'm adding a link so others can read your stuff.

Unknown said...

This is an interesting and well written piece - and I've often felt like this too in work scenarios... but it does seem grim the mouse comparison at the end.

What a dark sense of humour you have, MT.

Caroline said...

I don't think that you're a misfit. You perhaps have a larger brain than your fellow worker.

However, I must admit that I watched some of American Idol today, but I can be excused as I am in love with Simon C. So my love excuses my watching, because if I didn't watch him, then I would stalk him.

I don't fit in.
I don't want to fit in.

He Who Does Not Subscribe said...

Saddened to hear that the perky Worker was an amalgam, and not a real person. I really would like to meet a perky Worker.

Which one was the mouse? Perky worker or you? (I'm serious here.)

The Moon Topples said...

Cail: Sorry about the grim part. I thought the whole thing was grim, though, so...

Caroline: Sorry to hear about your Cowell affliction. Hope it clears up.

HWDNS: Oh, perky Workers exists, I assure you. Keep your eyes peeled.

The mouse was me. I had hoped to draw the comparison with the pushing of the lever, but perhaps missed something to make that clear.

If the mouse was perky Worker, the "dark" comments makes a lot more sense. But it was I who was being conditioned.

Liz Dwyer said...

I'm with you on this, especially since all the contestants have to go through a pre-screen before they even get to Randy, Paula and Simon. The producers absolutely know these contestants can't sing, the contestants are under no illusions that they can sing either. They get passed on to the judges because the producers are hoping it'll make great tv. It seems like such a waste of time to watch it and it also seems mean.

Go Bears!

Unknown said...

We gave you Cowell, and we don't want him back!

The Moon Topples said...

Liz: I didn't know any of that. It does sound sinister. As for your bear comment, I am for the continued domination of humans for the time being, but will try not to judge you for your devotion to your ursine masters.

Minx: Doesn't he host pretty much the same show in England as well? In which case he's merely on loan. Besides, I think Caroline would differ with you as to whether he should return to his homeland or not. She wuvs him.