Here’s a little titbit that may surprise readers of this blog: I am generally perceived to have a cheerful demeanour. The astute among you will realise that venting via blogging and videos is one of the primary reasons I am able to be cheerful the rest of the time. My disposition is greatly improved after my daily venting.
One of the things I do that makes people think I’m cheerful is whistling. I don’t go over the top with it but I do frequently whistle (quietly) for no apparent reason. I’ve found it’s self-reinforcing. Whistling is accepted to be a sign of cheerfulness. Start whistling and you tend to feel more cheerful.
I’ve always had a soft spot for this postcard sized sign by Sydney artist Nick Bleasel:
You can tell a lot about a person from the way they react to it. Normal humans will usually smile and maybe start whistling. Some freaks of nature will be seriously affronted by it. In one particularly dysfunctional workplace, a freakishly depressed cow-orker insisted I take it down (the postcard was stuck to my monitor). Apparently, she couldn’t deal with the possibility that people might spontaneously whistle in her general vicinity. Or maybe she was opposed to cheerfulness.
In case anyone thinks I’m being overly cynical with that last point, let me give you an unpleasant truth. There are many people in this world who are actively opposed to the idea of other people being cheerful when they are not. Particularly at work.
This was brought home to me in a previous workplace where a large scale project was going seriously off the rails. People everywhere were concerned that the project would be canned and they would lose their jobs. Rightly concerned as it turned out. It was made painfully clear to me how bad morale was one day when someone asked me how I was doing.
I went beyond assuming this was a banal and meaningless piece of small talk. I responded honestly. Great, I said, I’m having a lot of fun testing some gadgets. The particular sub-project I was on involved assessing the viability of a range of signature capture and imaging hardware and software. As I’m a bit of a gadget head (OK, I’m a nerd) this was actually fun for me.
Divulging that I was actually enjoying myself engendered some serious hostility. I could have dealt with someone moaning their work wasn’t as interesting but I was actively attacked for having the audacity to enjoy what I was doing. Lesson learned: never tell depressed people that you’re happy.
I started thinking about all of this after being told at my current workplace that I’m cheerful. Just now I passed someone while I was whistling and they commented on how cheerful I sounded. I didn’t think anything of it at first. They didn’t sound too resentful. But then I thought about it: this was at least the third time in the last week someone had commented on me being cheerful. A definite warning sign.
This workplace has undergone a significant amount of change in the last few months. That old corporate favourite, the “re-org” is in full swing. I’m starting to think this may be getting to people. The fact that I have already made plans to move on means I don’t care about the re-org. It looks like my psychic powers have paid off again.
So that’s my warning for today kids: watch out for people commenting on how cheerful you are. It may not be a negative thing at first but it’s like the canary in the coalmine. It’s your early warning signal that things aren’t going well. The time to do something about problems is before they get serious so don’t take the warning signs lightly.
14 responses to “Too cheerful”
I had the very same cheerful whistling postcard displayed in several rooms of my house a while back.
They all faded from the sun 😦
And now I get depressed.
I’ve gotta tell ya, the most miserable bastards I’ve met have been on Youtube. I hate them worse than they hate themselves. Soul-sucking motherfuckers. I’m thinking our retarded Western World lets way too many people live in tiny, fucked-up bubbles.
That’s better. 🙂
I’ve run into the same problem at my job. How dare I help the kids that are incarcerated. I am there to punish them dammit! Well fuck them in the neck with a pair of handcuffs!!!
You? Cheerful? Nope. Sorry, don’t believe it.
I think I must be a freak.. whistling annoys the crap out of me! Actually, it gives me the absolute heebie-jeebies. Might as well be raking your nails down a chalkboard as far as I’m concerned.
Now humming on the other hand, is all good, and a little off-key singing is always acceptable if it’s done with a happy smile. 🙂
Then again, maybe I’m just jealous cause I can’t whistle worth a damn. ha..haha…!
Rodeo: Download a new one!
Sean: That’s a big claim, hating them more than they hate themselves. The self loathing powering their behaviour is pretty damn obvious. I’m with you though – too many of them are nothing but fucked up bubble people
Sandra: where do you get off looking for a positive outcome?
QofD: muahahahaha, my evil plan is working
Cinnkitty: we all have our strengths 🙂
I can remember no more than a couple of such whistlers in my whole life, and I hate them. Not because they are cheerful, or whatever they are, but because they produce an awful lot of noise! Some people are hard to notice, some people are hard to ignore (even if you really want to). The first ones can enter the room, do something for an hour, leave the room, enter it again, sit for another our in the middle of it – and you are hardly even aware of there presence. They are suspicious, though. The seconds…. when they are still a mile away, you already know they are coming, and they are going to whistle, hum, sing, dance, talk to themselves, talk to everybody… Wonderful guys. I wish their death come quick and be slow.
While it’s a definite warning sign, as a guy whose days are numbered by definition (i.e. a contractor) I actually enjoy being happy-go-lucky in the office when things are gloomy. No matter how bad it gets, in 6 months or so, I’m heading elsewhere. I’m pretty sure I’ve never resorted to whistling, though. Thanks for the idea. 😈
Vlad: I’m not a noisy whistler. I don’t do it much while at my desk, just occasionally while walking around.
Brian: Yeah, actually tell them you’re happy, it does their head in 😉
LOL, you cant beat a bit of daily venting 🙂
I cant whistle due to having most off my teeth kicked in, so I think I am safe…
Ahhh Angry, when I worked with you most certainly did have a cheerful disposition! How surprising life can be…
Does that mean you like Kevin Rudd?…..
Andrew: I’m a surprising guy
Davross: I’m not sure where that comes from but I vastly prefer Kevin Rudd to the previous incumbent.