The two-faced employee

A workplace is a strange little world, isn’t it? 

It’s the other world you live in 8-15 hours a day. It consists of haves and have-nots, leaders and followers, troublemakers and visionaries. The workplace is a microcosm. There are liars and thieves and heroes and friends and Neighbors You Don’t Like.

Our co-workers posses all shades of manners and civility. Many of our colleagues exhibit the same behaviors on the “outside” that they do in the office. These particular folks never say “please” and “thank you” to anyone, for anything. They believe it’s perfectly acceptable to bring in those day-old salmon puffs from home and gas an entire cubicle farm with the stench emanating from the microwave. Personal hygiene is perhaps a low priority among some of our office mates. Others are full of boundless energy and good vibes, some seek out ears to vent withering complaints about the state of the company and the folks who are in charge of it.

The most fascinating creature I have been able to discover at the various places I have called The Office is a person I call two-face.

Two Faces drive me crazy with curiosity. I have this odd desire to attempt to find out as much as I can about the people I share a workplace with. I’m naturally inquisitive about them, and my agenda is completely pure: I simply want to make a connection with them. Two Faces are as elusive as some of those primates featured on National Geographic wildlife specials. They are a personality in hiding, a character camouflaged in the backdrop of our workstations.

Two Faces are humans that have the uncanny ability to posses two separate and distinct personalities; Work Mode and Regular Mode.

The most extreme example I can use to illustrate what Two Face looks like: At work, he is a silent figure; he doesn’t really talk to anyone, unless spoken to first. He has lunch at his desk every day; you never see him at after-work happy hours or holiday parties. He doesn’t play on the softball team. Take a gander on his Facebook, however, and you’ll see pictures of him sucking jello shots out of the navels of dancers-for-hire in Las Vegas hotel rooms. Fascinating.

I worked with “Mary” for over 10 years. I had no designs on her, no inappropriate agenda. I was  interested in her because her Work Mode was seemingly steroidal. A bona fide “no-talker”; a “keep to herself-er”, wishing to have little or no contact with the person in the cube next to her, or anyone. Her work product was superior; everything done on time, and done well.  What made me curious about “Mary” was a comment from a co-worker; “She’s totally different outside the office…big personality, loves the cocktails, black-diamond snowboarder too…”

How people with such lust for life can transform themselves into silent work-bots is incredible; yet they do it absolutely effortlessly.

You may be wondering why I think I have to be everybody’s best friend at work. I don’t want or need to be. Just like the outside world, there are billions of strangers roaming around that we’ll never know, and never get to know. If Two Face doesn’t want to acknowledge my existence, I will soldier on with no need for mental health treatment. I simply like people, and like to crash into them, to check them out, to see if we have anything in common. I’d be bummed to think some might view it as glad handing, but some probably do. Life is full of little hurts.

I’m hoping/praying that the sentence most used concerning my work personality is “John is always doing laps, saying hello, choppin’ it up and BS-ing. He really cares about his work too!”

Whether you like it or not, I’m cool with being that guy.

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