Before I recount a moment in which I proudly kept my mouth shut in order to maintain a professional working relationship, I have to lay out some backstory on where I work.
I deliver pizzas for a major, international franchise. My co-workers are a melting pot of college grads, teenagers, people having trouble living up to their potential, and of course some people who are a few nuggets short of a Happy Meal. Needless to say, such diversity lends itself to some grade-A minimum wage banter.
The purpose of this story is not to mock any of my co-workers. On a good day, they’re really fine folks. Even on a bad day, they’re no more screwed up than the rest of the population. I’m just venting some things that would have been impolite to say aloud at work.
Despite that uniform disclaimer for this series of posts, I’m about to mock one of my co-workers just a little bit here. I’ll save you the trouble of guessing which of the above stated categories this guy falls into by saying that he isn’t the brightest crayon in the shed.
I treat this co-worker with the same spectrum of courtesy as everybody else in our little pizza hell. Depending on how I feel about what an individual is saying, I put in x amount of effort into appearing interested. This is more passive-aggressive than it is effective, because most people that tell you every inane detail about their day are too wrapped up in telling you every inane detail about their day to realize that you aren’t listening.
At this point in these posts, I typically paraphrase an exchange that took place between myself and/or other employees, but this guy has turned rambling into an art form and if I try to craft his words into a semi-coherent conversation I think my head will explode.
The gist is this: He left school early because he was confused by his classes and it made him frustrated. He’s happy to be taking classes because it’s helping him meet girls. He met a girl who works at Victoria’s Secret, a head shop, but not Pipe Dreams, another one that he couldn’t remember the name of, and she takes like 5 classes a semester. Pipe Dreams is the one on 17-92 with the tortoises in pins that you can see from the road and the sign about the smoking monkey. He was in there the other day and a lady was showing him a rubber vagina. They also sell sex toys and lingerie. She kept encouraging him to touch it but he thought it was weird but then he eventually gave in and stuck his finger in it. It was modeled after a porn star.
Imagine sitting through a story that starts with trouble in math class and ends with fingering a rubber vagina.
But it gets worse.
The other co-worker who was standing next to me waited until he walked away to tell me that she has heard that exact story four times in the past week. He forgets that he told her already and goes into it again. That’s when he isn’t telling another tale that starts at Point A, far away in “Not-Related-To-The-Rubber-Vagina-Storyville,” and yet still manages to end with his finger in a damn sex toy.
The morals of the story are the following:
- Nobody likes that person who tells the same story over and over again.
- If you aren’t sure if you have already told the story or not yet, play it safe and shut up.
- If that isn’t possible and you absolutely must tell the story just in case the entire world hasn’t yet heard about it and yes it really is that good, then test the waters by providing a cryptic one-line description or title. “Did I tell you about the rubber vagina I found myself in the other day?” “Sorry, but I don’t remember whether or not I already told you about what I was peer pressured into sticking my finger into the other day. Was that you or someone else?”
- You could also think of the story as a blog post and give it an intriguing title. What would you title it to get someone to click? If you tell the story well enough, not only will people sit through it again, but they will also call over their friends who haven’t heard it yet so that you can share the good news with everyone they know.
- Or you could go with the Friends format: “Did I tell you The One With the Rubber Vagina?”
I guess the driving factor in whether or not the story is worthwhile is how well you tell it. That’s why I’m writing about all of this stuff, rather than gathering strangers around the campfire and doing it with spoken word. When I try to tell these stories aloud, I stammer, forget important details, spill my beer, get sidetracked with another story, skip the most crucial plot detail, or flat out stop listening to myself (which makes me devolve into guttural grunts and bizarre babbles like I’m at the center of a demonic possession movie). It takes a word processor for me to weave you an epic with a beginning, middle, and end.