You may not be the most productive worker in your company or the best paid, but no one can say you aren’t the weirdest.
Alas, there are forces in the work force that are out to attack your weirdness. They want everyone to be “normal.” You can imagine how boring that would be.
In a better world, weird prejudice over weird people would be illegal. But we have yet to reach that lofty level of evolution. This can cause problems. Even weird people get used to regular paychecks, which could come to end if the nattering nomads of normalcy succeed in driving you out.
It could happen. Jolie Kerr, an extremely non-weird contributor to the self-care column in The New York Times firmly believes that weird behavior by weird people at work can be rectified.
The good news is that to accomplish this sinister goal, the normals have to do something normals don’t like to do — speak up.
Weirdos like thee and me are happy to let our freak flag fly. We love to blast neurofunk and cosmic disco from the twin FUGOOs on our desktop. We’re comfortable bringing our entire Hummel collection to weekly staff meetings (the Merry Wanderer does get lonely when left behind.) We don’t hesitate to express our views on important issues, like the recent alien abductions being kept under wraps by the Venusian deep state at NASA, or the health benefits of drinking bath water.
These behaviors unsettle some people, apparently.
“Work throws us together with people we might not normally choose to hang out with,” Kerr writes, quoting weirdness expert and author Alison Green. “Add in the pressure people often feel to preserve harmony because of the power dynamics from office hierarchies, and things can get very, very weird.”
“People have quirks,” Green adds, but she doesn’t define what qualifies as a quirk. Is keeping a python in your bottom desk drawer a quirk? I personally find it caring and kind of cute.
If you are confronted by a deluded member of the normalcy cult, don’t expect the temper tantrums your weird behavior usually evokes.
Green recommends “approaching the person you have an issue with directly and using a neutral tone. If you’re matter-of-fact about it, it’s less likely to become a big awkward ordeal.”
Of course, weirdos like us live for big awkward ordeals. Watching a normal transformed into a wild-eyed, sputtering psycho is one of the real pleasures of being a weirdo.
When your co-workers attempt at a weirdo intervention fail, which, of course, it will, the advice they receive from Alison Green is to talk to your manager.
This will likely be a futile effort. Any manager who would hire you is sure to be a big weirdo. The same fallacy applies to advice that your co-workers take their complaints to the human resources department. HR is so full of weirdoes that they even make you seem normal.
While your managers may be able to protect your rights to everyday weirdness, you may have trouble with co-workers who decide to target two vulnerable aspects of your weird work life.
The office fridge is No. 1.
“If you don’t have a policy of tossing everything every Friday,” Green advises, “it will quickly get taken over by months-old Tupperware containers of moldy leftovers.”
This could cause trouble. The green mold you are growing in the office fridge will not survive a weekly cleanout. The same goes for the fungi you plan to harvest in time for Thanksgiving dinner. You may have to explain to your co-workers that green mold adds a piquant flavor note to tuna sandwiches after the three-week mark. You may also have to share your crop of fresh fungus. Point out it is gluten-free. Normals love gluten-free.
The other key area for weirdness complaints is the “gassy co-worker.”
“I have no good solution for that one,” Green confesses. “Or maybe I’m just to squeamish to take it on.”
For someone who only goes to work to display your weirdness, this is one area where you can fight back. A diet of beans, lentils, broccoli, Brussels sprouts and cabbage should help you be extremely productive in this area of office life.
If you stick to the diet and are successful in your efforts at human fracking — and I have great faith in your efforts in this area — you won’t have to worry about anyone monitoring your weird behavior.
You’ll have all the space you need.
Bob Goldman was an advertising executive at a Fortune 500 company, but he finally wised up and opened Bob Goldman Financial Planning in Sausalito, California. He now works out of Bellingham, Washington. He offers a virtual shoulder to cry on at email@example.com.