Wednesday, August 20, 2003

Smile.

Today my boss took me by surprise. He summoned me into his office and after much tip-toeing around the subject, said that I did not seem happy with my job. I was certain from his tone that I was about to be fired and was surprised by a surge of guilt, that somehow I've disappointed this person, who knows nothing about me. He was reluctant to mention specifics, as if I'm supposed to understand. It seems his problem is that I “never smile” and I “avoid interaction with others.” And since this is a “tight knit place” and “office morale is very important” this is negatively impacting the group. I stammered out something about a difficult breakup. He seemed appeased and offered a few consoling words.

I still feel stunned by the realization that all I'm doing to change is not enough. I'm expected to be cheerful as well. What could I possibly say to him? Sorry for infecting the others, sir…

Sunday, August 17, 2003

You are not anonymous.

This is usually how trouble starts. Not long ago a coworker discovered that we live quite close and one night we walked home together. I wasn’t sure what to talk about besides work. I suppose I should have asked her about her something about herself or related some piece of gossip. I suppose that is what one does but I didn't think of it then. Instead I mentioned that the average person living in London is photographed by 300 different surveillance cameras every day. I began pointing out the cameras as we passed, in ATMs, on traffic lights. She seemed concerned, but not as I'd expected. She asked me if I were “one of those paranoid people.” I joked that I have mild OCD. This she seemed to understand. She recommended the name of a “brilliant” therapist.

Is a person who acknowledges the facts of existence paranoid? I suppose I have much to learn about passing as a citizen. Lesson 1—when not sure what to say, keep silent.