Saturday, April 30, 2011

Dear Certain Subway Riders (An Open Letter),

I can understand why you might want to take the subway. It's fast and moves underground, like those weird-faced snake monsters from the Kevin Bacon movie Tremors. Plus, despite the frequent delays and reroutings, on certain days it works like magic. Like those times when you spend the entire morning reading on the toilet and, by all accounts, are an hour behind, then somehow the stars (and trains) align to take you to your destination not just on time, but minutes early! Planes, automobiles, time machines, Jason Statham -- nothing could deliver such miraculous transport!

Whatever your reason for riding the subway, I don't care. If you are like most of the people I encounter there, you are doing it badly. Here is why.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

So. This happened.

When will I learn how to banter in the workplace

The long-form joke and I are well-acquainted bedfellows. The winding, swirling, no-punchline, create a theme or mood then amuse with unexpected twists and turns (POOPY) joke -- she/he is my friend/bitch. Same goes for its cousin, the non-sequitur. Totally my game. Free-associations that beget strange and unrelated comments, like when a paint color reminds me of the afterlife, or my sushi rolls have personalities, or I point out which celebrities would have to mate to birth one of my friends.

But there is one joke in whose presence I cower, on whose frontier I will forever lag behind the other wagon trailblazer pioneer people: the Workplace Banter.

What IS Workplace Banter? What ISN'T Workplace Banter! It's those completely un-pithy one-liners that are totally benign and essentially just any old sentence in a normal conversation -- but which, for strange and inexplicable reasons, everybody ends up laughing at.

Workplace Banter is at first hard to spot, because it sounds just like a normal sentence. This is because it is a normal sentence, except said in a weird voice. And when it comes to your boss, or anyone prominent or "superior" in the office hierarchy, Workplace Banter can literally be when anyone says anything at all, whether or not it's in a weird voice.

Here, for your edification, are examples of Workplace Banter.

1. "Don't ask me anything until I've had my coffee!"
2. "Sorry, my brain stopped working."
3. Weird-voiced person: "Does not compute."
4. Boss: "Hi!"

Bear in mind that all of these statements would traditionally be followed by hysterical laughter.

Also bear in mind that this is universal Workplace Banter. I work in a real-life office right now, but I have also worked in theater, and the same exact rules apply, if you can believe it. Same rules, with a few notable theater-specific additions:

5. Person after they've done something really easy, like move a chair: "That's why they pay me the big bucks!"
6. Any person during rehearsal or performances: "We're going to Broadway!"
7. Person, yelling: "Belt your face!"
8. Sarcastic person who has to move one prop or carry scenery: "But...what's my motivation?"

In summary, Workplace Banter is everywhere. You cannot stop it. And if you want to succeed, you'd better learn how to do it!*


*Alternatively, you can just blog about it and stubbornly not engage, like some ashamed career floater slash outcast. What is "success," anyway?