I have a few habits that people at work tend to notice. I’m a bit of a fidgeter. In meetings I tend to doodle (I always tell people it’s a sign I’m thinking). And when I walk along I tend to tap on surfaces to see what noises they make. In other words, I’m fucking annoying.
I normally get away with it but I had a bit of a run-in recently. The meeting rooms at work have this translucent coating on the glass walls. The coating is designed to make the rooms private without blocking out all the light. It’s also a rough surface that makes a cool noise if you scrape your fingernails across it as you walk by.
That’s what I reckon, anyway.
So I happened to be walking by one of the rooms and ran my fingernails on the surface. Cool noise. Then I walked back past the room and did it again. Still a cool noise. Then I remembered somewhere else I had to go and walked past the room again. And ran my nails across the surface again.
It turns out this was the room that HR uses to do job interviews. And there was an interview going on at the time. This was revealed to me after I scraped my nails on the wall for the fifth time in about ten minutes. The door burst open and a red-faced HR person lunged at me.
“Is that you scratching on the glass?”
As my nails were still touching the glass, I didn’t think a denial would work.
“And was it you the other ten times?”
I thought about it for a while. All she could see through translucent glass was a vague shadow. She couldn’t prove a damn thing. Besides, she was exaggerating about how many times I’d done it.
She paused, thrown for a moment by my unexpected denial. She stared hard at me. If she had lasers for eyes she would have vaporised my head. Actually, if she had lasers for eyes she’d probably be some sort of world conquering alien instead of working in HR. Either way, she knew she couldn’t nail me for all the times I’d made the noise but she had a go at me anyway.
“I’m trying to do an interview in there, do you have any idea the impression it creates to have it interrupted by that horrible noise?”
I figured that was a rhetorical question. I ran away. The odd thing is I saw the interviewee over her shoulder. He wasn’t looking in my direction but it was a guy I knew. I caught up with him later in the week and asked him what he’d been up to.
“I interviewed at your work the other day, actually.”
“Oh, cool. How did the interview go?”
“OK, but I don’t think I want to work there.”
“Why is that?” I asked innocently, ready to decry my awful cow-orkers‘ horrible noise-making habits.
“Well, the person who interviewed my was really weird. They jumped up in the middle of the interview and abused someone who was walking past for some reason. I figured if they’re that freaky during an interview, they’d be insane to work with.”
“Good call. I don’t know how I put up with those people sometimes, they have so many goddam annoying habits.”