Thursday, June 13, 2019

Not One of the Team

I don't like office banter and all that shit you get at work about 'being one of the team' or, 'one of the lads' and all the accompanying fake bonhomie, camaraderie and associated bullshit.  I was reminded of this during a conversation at work today.  It was one of those instances when you realise that you are inhabiting some kind of parallel existence to work colleagues.  The fact is that, once upon a time, in what seems like another life, I did work in an office where I had that kind of relationship with my then colleagues.  Most of the time it was an all-male office and, although the mix of people in the office changed over time, the dynamic remained essentially the same.  There was a lot of  lunch time drinking, a lot of good natured 'banter', lots of practical jokes and all the other sort of stuff you'd expect.  And, while it lasted, it was fun.  It was the probably the best working experience I'd ever had.  It was certainly a contrast to previous offices I'd worked in, where I'd always seemed to be the 'odd one out', the one who didn't quite 'fit', seen as an outsider by colleagues.  Of course, the good situation couldn't last and things eventually turned sour.  It was partly down to staff changes, partly down to increasing management disapproval of our 'working style', (despite those liquid lunches, we got the work done, delivering it to a high standard, but we were considered to be 'setting a bad example').  Looking back, we undoubtedly went too far at times - some of the 'banter' tipped over from being in joke bad taste to offensive.

Since then, I've avoided that sort if thing.  I work in a job where I'm out of the office most of the time, working on my own, relying on  nobody but myself.  I like my own company.  There have been times when I've had closer friendships with individual colleagues, but nothing like those halcyon days of yore.  I've learned that it is pointless trying to recreate the past.  What I realise now is that that previous experience was down to a particular confluence of the right mix of people being in the right place at the right time.  It just happened that I found myself, at that moment, in a work environment with a group of people who were on the same 'wavelength' and with whom I had ideas and interests in common.  Such coincidences are rare.  Moreover, there were underlying reasons I threw myself into that particular scene: it was a distraction from the fact that I was increasingly dissatisfied with the job itself - I no longer believed in it, the people I worked for, nor the organisation I worked in.  It was inevitable that it was all going to come crashing down.  But here I am, finding myself once more facing this sort of talk of 'teams' and everything that goes with this.  The fact that I'm perfectly happy ploughing my individual furrow, relying solely on myself, doesn't seem to count for anything.  I certainly don't want to get drawn into that world of fake camaraderie I mentioned before - I see too many glimpses of it amongst some of my colleagues: all that 'banter'.  (Maybe that's why I've never really got on with social media - its all 'banter').  Obviously, I'll resist any moves to try and force me to be part of the 'gang', but it gives me further impetus to review my work situation.  After all, I've already decided that there's no way I can do this job until I retire, so I really have to get my arse into gear and start doing something about it.



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