This often results in me waking up before my shifts or the time I get ready to leave for work on my days off (ex: TODAY) for no good reason. Of course, the first thing that came to my mind was work. If you told me as a child how much time outside of work I would end up thinking about it, I would have been more disgusted than I am now. I thought I’d think about romance for the rest of my life, and instead I think about the thing I try to push as far away from my mind as possible.
Recently, an offer was extended to me by a co-worker to kick back and spend a night out on the town with her and some of my other co-workers. I initially got really excited about this venture, but my hopes and dreams were dashed by office politics and gossip. As my wise sister-like mentor once told me when I was in high school, “You think the drama is going to end after high school, but I am here to tell you that it never DOES. You think it will get better, but it won’t. You’ll still have the same stupid fights years from now as you do right now.” It was one of the best warnings anyone has ever given me.
So when I woke up at 5am, in some odd tribute to the late Philip Seymour Hoffman, I thought of his line as Lester Bangs: “You cannot make friends with rock stars.”
Lester Bangs: Aw, man. You made friends with them. See, friendship is the booze they feed you. They want you to get drunk on feeling like you belong.
William Miller: Well, it was fun.
Lester Bangs: They make you feel cool. And hey. I met you. You are not cool.
William Miller: I know. Even when I thought I was, I knew I wasn’t.
Lester Bangs: That’s because we’re uncool…most of the great art in the world is about that very same problem. Good-looking people don’t have any spine. Their art never lasts.
Lester Bangs: I’m always home. I’m uncool.
William Miller: Me too!
Lester Bangs: The only true currency in this bankrupt world is what we share with someone else when we’re uncool.
William Miller: I feel better.
Lester Bangs: My advice to you. I know you think those guys are your friends. You wanna be a true friend to them? Be honest, and unmerciful. (read the full thing here with other quotations from the film: imdb.com)
My feelings about work friends have evolved over the years. At my first job where I worked with people my own age, I thought, “I can do this. I can fit in. I can be cool,” like some Cady Heron mantra from Mean Girls. I had few jobs where it kind of worked (the most successful one when I worked side by side part-time with people from a partnered company where we weren’t employed by the same people). For some reason, it doesn’t work most of the time, and I’m still trying to process the “why” of it all.
You see them every day, or at least more often than you see most members of your family. Work ethics are different. They steal, you don’t. They have a perfect attendance record, you don’t. They tell you stories you’re almost sure are lies, but you can’t prove.
That’s where it gets tricky.
Our cat is irritable and is stuck with permanent bitch face. Not only has she bitten and attacked (but never wounded) me several times out of stress and fear, but she’s bitten me multiple times on my face when I did NOT deserve it (certain household parties will disagree with this opinion). When we moved to Texas, she briefly lived with my sister-in-law while we got settled, because torture is something you need to spread around. When I saw my niece at Christmas last year, I found out our cat had bitten her on the face too, and I immediately took her side. Not because she’s a child, mind you, but my niece is the oldest and would not needlessly bother the cat. I figured that her face bite was also unwarranted, and victims of crime have to stick together. After she told me this, she said, “Your cat is mean. She’s SO mean. Why is she all about the drama?”
And that’s what I ask myself when I get pulled into co-worker incited chaos whether I want to be or not (but to be clear, I NEVER want this).
While Tina Fey says that women are supposed to stick together, lift each other up, and stop calling each other bitches and ho’s, I feel like more often than not that the more women I work with, the worse things tend to be. I know that sounds terrible, and I feel really bad for having to say it, but it’s true. My personal form of fighting involves a silent protesting where I sit as far away from everyone else as possible and do my fucking job like I should instead of setting off tear gas and then walking away like an office version of the Joker.
To be clear, I usually have one person I work with whom I have a mutual understanding. When I started working at my current job, one of my co-workers warned me that this was an already established problem, but I try to live optimistically until I’m proven otherwise. When I told her part of the story as to why I didn’t go, she didn’t soak up details in order to tattle, but she said that some people genuinely did want me to come out. She then added that it wasn’t actually that much fun since everyone was already drunk by the time she got there.
I plan on taking a culmination of Lester Bang and Cady Heron’s advice. I’m going to be honest without trying to talk about people behind their backs. Next week is new, and I plan on making the best of it regardless of toxic attitudes and passive aggressive girl fighting.