Wednesday, January 21

Unpopular Opinions

You ever have something on your mind and you just want to talk about it? Tangents of thought just zinging back and forth inside your mind, needing something, someone to bounce off.

I work in this small office. There's usually less than 10 people here on any given day, and like 4 of those are managers/bosses. The rest are Republicans (I feel fairly confident that the managers align politically that way too, but it's hardly the point). Unlike a lot of places I've worked in the past, there seems to be a clear line between what people chat about and what they don't. Bosses around here seem to actively avoid small talk with the rank and file, and perhaps in deference to that example -- the rest of the group seems equally uninterested in socializing during the day.

And yet -- out of of all days out of the year -- this particular morning following a State of the Union address where Obama all but trolled his opponents would seem like one of those where loose conversation would be rampant.


If anything I'd think I'd need to be making an extra effort to avoid small talk around here today. But it hasn't happened. There's occasional whining about Obamacare, but compared to other places I've worked -- these people seem positively lazy when it comes to being wingnuts.

 But more than that -- there isn't really that much conversation at all around here at all. You'd think it would be refreshing, not to have to listen to politics or sports blather day in and day out -- but eventually the silence becomes deafening.

There's a lady I share an office with, but her main thing seems to be talking about cats. The other day she was given not one, but two cat calendars by coworkers and clients -- which she hung up on the walls and urged me to go through with her month by month, at which point I politely put on my headphones and feigned being busy.

See, that's all I really wanted. A chance to drown your bullshit out with my music.

And yet, the more time goes by at this gig -- the more the lack of simple human warmth seems to continually rise as a weakness. This place isn't just boring and uninspiring, it's sterilized. It doesn't feel like a workplace as much as it feels like a library -- and I'm really starting to wear out on it.

Then again, maybe it's me. Despite the fact that I'm relatively close in age to everyone here --  my tastes and habits seem pretty alien to the few who've tried to engage me. I like old cartoons and death metal. One of my managers is a friendly guy -- but he's deep into NASCAR and such, and whenever we've tried to find common ground there's rarely much to be had. Even worse, our differences seem so marked that even that occasional comfort in contrast kind of friendship that occasionally happens at a job when you get along with someone more out of a shared sense of struggle rather than any sort of personal compatibility only seems to go so far.

Over the years I've learned that hard way that engaging opposing political arguments only serves to poison the well at workplaces, and it's tough to share weekend stories with people who think golf and keeping their lawn nice is fun without having to constantly explain pop culture references or "what twitter really even is" or whatever time and time again. I'm not asking everyone to be current with everything in pop culture (I'm certainly not), but at least be interested in ..something.

This would seem to be the natural place where the internet would come in. Communities full of people who specifically, if not fanatically want to talk about things I'm into -- all at the touch of a button. And while I do spend what is probably an inordinate amount of time there, I miss actual human contact. The kind of nonverbal feedback you get from someone you're actually talking to.

I think what it really is is that I'm lonely. This place seems to shine a spotlight on how out of place I am, how isolated and singular my day to day existence has become - - and I think I'm running out of gas on that feeling.

It's probably a big part of why I made such a big deal about my little spontaneous trip to Tampa last week to see Periphery in concert. Sure I dig the band, and got a certain charge out of flexing my ability as an independent human adult to do things I like to do when I get the chance, but now that I'm back and waist deep in this silent building with nothing but my office mate's cat calendars on the wall to keep me company -- it's becoming more and more clear one of the real bonuses of that quick vacay was the chance to be in the same room with a bunch of other people who had not only heard of the band, but liked them as much as I did.

THIS MAY OR MAY NOT HAVE HAPPENED
Of course even that came with it's obstacles, as I was easily the oldest guy in the room (nothing quite like repeately being called sir at a prog metal show) -- but once you start trading shots in the moshpit and headbanging along with the breakdowns it's not like any of that really matters.

It's just that after the show when everyone went back to their respective corners and regular hangouts to gush about how much fun they just had, I didn't really have anywhere to go.

There was this point during the show where I was at the bar getting a fresh drink when a young lady standing next to me asked me what my cologne was and complimented me on it. We struck up small talk while we waited for the bartender's attention. She was in town with friends, travelling from Long Island -- didn't even really know the bands but was liking what she heard so far.

Was there a vibe? Who knows -- she was super young, and when her order came it was actually two PBRs, which suggested she wasn't alone (but could have meant anything I suppose). I didn't make much of a deal of it, there were plenty of friendly strangers at the bar -- always seem to be when you go to the Orpheum -- and when after she walked away with a friendly goodbye I never saw her again.

Whether she faded into the crowd back to her friends or was just some wishful figment of my imagination I guess I'll never really know. I walked around the main drag in Ybor for a good while before settling down in a little dive bar for a nightcap, and I saw all kinds of people I'd noticed at the concert (including a few members of the band who wandered in for some post-show food), but not her.

Like I said, she was super young anyways -- so all this talk is basically just that. But how cool would it have been to be at that show and look across the room to find someone else who was just there looking for people their age with common (if eccentric) interests and be all like:




Even now, as I've come back to my regular routine, the fact that I don't really have anyone to gush over the concert experience (or the pending release of the band's new double album) in the kind of detail that two only people who actually are into the same sort of stuff can have is driving me a little crazy.

I mean, seriously -- how amazing is this?


..Well, I like it anyways.

My longtime friends have put up with my tendency to go on jags about certain bands for years (ask Gristina about the Zappa years, or my recent overload on Snarky Puppy). They can't always get on board with the specific bands -- but at least they understand how much fun a mosh pit can be.

Somebody at work asked how my trip was, and when I told them I was at a death metal show all they could do was put the work they needed done on my desk and then back away slowly.
..Weirdos.

[Now Playing:  The Dillinger Escape Plan "Prancer" ]


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