Yesterday was one of those days where I felt like a loser more times than usual in the typical Greg Loesch day.
I recently took a new job with a company in a new place where there are a lot of new people that speak a lot of languages that I don’t understand (which is anything other than English) that walk and drive on new roads that lead to a lot of new places where there are more people that have a lot of new personalities and linguistic abilities, too. Yesterday was my first day of real work on a project site. As a person with struggles of insecurity, new experiences aren’t usually at the top of the list of enjoyable things. There are too many opportunities to look vulnerable and feel out of place. Day 1 on the project… check and check.
The day started with a dismal, cloudy, rainy view from my 12th floor apartment window. Having to walk to the metro stop, this added another complication to my already overloaded brain. To give you an idea… here is an honest-to-goodness scenario I played out in my head:
“What are the chances that I get my laptop bag stuck inside the metro door (computer in the train, me out) and have to decide between losing my life or my new work computer? or perhaps I could keep both if I chose to drop my bag on the train… some nice person might return it. Shoot… but my contact info isn’t in the bag. Maybe if I took out my phone and squeezed it through the crack in the doors my jammed arm has created, some person could use my phone to call my mom who could call my roommate who could tell me that Elsie, the sweet little German lady that works in one of the Smithsonian museums, has my laptop. Oh wait, I have security set up on my phone. Now I may lose my laptop and phone… and if I do get my phone back somehow it’s probably been wiped because somebody swiped the incorrect pattern 10 times!”
So in addition to that lunacy, I now had to worry about whether or not I brought an umbrella with me during the move. I think there’s one in my car… but it might be the one that has a tear in it. I elected for the large golf umbrella in my closet in my golf bag. It’s big, but if by chance I lost my limbs, I could use it as a crutch, right?
Once I made it on to the metro train (with all my limbs, computer, phone, and 4 less dollars), I chose to play that game where you pretend you’re a metro expert when you’re clearly not. There are rules which all metro cowboys follow: max 3 glances allowed at the metro map (no matter how many transfers), look bored and generally uninterested in other people, no losing balance when the train starts and stops, and no, under NO circumstances, can you use a hand railing or pole to help you from tumbling down the metro aisle should you come to one of those crucial balance struggles. With the swagger of the Dos Equis man, I set up a wide base, feet a shoulder width apart, and was ready to conquer the bucking metro. 45 minutes, 67 metro map glances, and 3-5 desperately awkward handrail grabs later (who knew that trying way too hard not to grab the handrail makes you look even more foolish?), I made it to my stop. Seriously though, what does it mean when you check the map multiple times between two sequential stops? The metro has pretty much one dimension… forward and backward. This isn’t linear algebra with complex multi-dimensional vector spaces. I honestly think I looked at that metro map more in one trip than I looked at my linear algebra book all throughout my linear algebra class. (No, I’m not saying that to communicate my supreme intelligence. I was THAT lost in that class.)
Anyways… now I had to find my place of work. I of course chose the metro station exit that was the most inconvenient one in relation to the building I needed to get to… but did end up making it. Awkwardness and insecurities now over, right? Nope. Upon entrance, I was greeted by a security guard that informed me that I had to go through a security scan (think airport minus the awkward pose where you get your private parts scanned). Ever have to go through one of those security check points when not expecting it? It’s hard not to panic. I never realized how much I liked my airport lines to prepare. Again, due to my weird self-image issues, I tried to “look cool” during the whole process. I made some bizarre attempt at taking off my coat while emptying my pockets of my phone, wallet, and keys while unzipping my laptop bag while taking off my shoes while juggling a wet newspaper and umbrella. I put the newspaper on the conveyor by itself, and I think I watched it struggle to get past those x-ray scanner flaps for a bit longer than a normal person would. Oh well… now through the scanner… *Beep beep beep!* I forget my belt. And so ended my hott-streak of 9 successful security scans.
Now that I was cleared, I had to weave my way through the most confusing cubicle layout imaginable in search of the mystical “Resource Management Office.” I felt my chances of finding a leprechaun (cue Youtube) were better. I do not think you can arrange a bunch of squares in a more confusing manner. The search was made more complex, as the “office” I was searching for was actually a series of 2 ordinary cubicles in the midst of the right-angle jungle. I found the security office instead… which was on the checklist anyway. I had my forms filled out and ready to go… first flawless victory of the day, right? *sigh* I filled out my paperwork with blue, not black ink. Douglas informed me that I had to fill them all out again. For the next 20 or so minutes, I re-filled out… with no history gaps… every job and every place I’d lived in the past five years… which adds up when you move every year of college and have internships and a lot of part time jobs. I’d regretted the internship at my dad’s company before… never the others until that point.
I’m pretty sweaty at this point for whatever reason, so visible butt sweat is now added to my list of concerns. I don’t think visible butt sweat leaves a good first impression with co-workers, and you can’t get first impressions back. I chose to not look and hope for the best. Ignorance is bliss. With new directions from “black not blue pen” Douglas, I find the “Mgmt” (doo doo doo doo doooo doot doot doot dooooooooooo….dooooo) “office” and get my security badge from a friendly woman. I make my way back through the sea of cubicles (this is probably the 5th time some of those people had seen me in less than a half hour) and on to the elevator up 10 floors to the office where I’d be working. I stepped out of the elevator, scanned my badge, and successfully opened the office doors (more on that later).
Introductions were made and greetings were exchanged with the people I would be working with. Everyone was nice, and honestly, my reservations and worries about meeting them were ill-founded. After we did the whole small talk thing, we meandered back to our line of cubicles. After a bit of sitting and doing some not so relevant trainings, my digestive system triggered some neurons that informed the brain it was bathroom time. You can relax. I didn’t wet myself or deficate in my pants. I instead had my first of many encounters with the office entrance double-doors. Never has a mostly inanimate object made me feel like such an idiot.
The doors that stood between me and the hallway to the bathroom are the type of doors where you can’t tell whether to push or pull. To make it worse, a receptionist of sorts, who’s about my age, sits right by (and I mean RIGHT BY) the doors. Imagining she’s cute makes the story better. I don’t really know what her job is other than to create pressured door-opening situations.
When you come across doors like these, you have two pretty simple approaches to achieve success. You can A) wait until somebody else uses the door and go from there, or you can B) give a balanced initiation push (or pull), continue if the door gives, or do the opposite if it doesn’t budge. It’s really not a tough task. I’m not bragging or anything, but I can usually do this right 99/100 times. Not bad for a computer science student, right? This particular day I caved under pressure. Instead of choosing option A or B, I chose option I (for Idiot) which was to pull and push the doors quickly, repeatedly, and with great indecision… all the while moving forward and nearly smudging my face on the glass. With surely one of the top ten sheepish looks in the history of the company, I turned to the receptionist and asked something along the lines of “how do door thing work?” followed by a pretty awkward… we’ll call it a chortle. I hoped she would at the very least respond with something like “oh, I have to push a button.” Instead she responded with “push” and a look I can’t explain with words.
The rest of the day went by. Nothing interesting enough to spend more time talking about. I made it on to the metro without too much trouble, as well (I got a seat this time… no awkward hand grabs). Upon exiting the metro, I was met with rain and a nice steady wind in the face (the kind that renders umbrellas useless). At that point, I honestly didn’t care. I just wanted to get back to my apartment. After changing out of my sopping wet clothes (yeah, I’ll probably still wear those paints without washing them), I made myself some dinner, and afterward I figured I’d settle down by playing some Modern Warfare 3. Why I thought playing a game I am embarrassingly bad at would make me feel better, I don’t know. After going something like 4-20 or worse 3 games in a row (that means I have a ratio of kills to deaths of about 1:5… I die 5 times for every kill I get… a bad stat to have in war), I chose to play Fifa. I lost to Swansea City 1-2. I’d consider that to be the equivalent of losing to any professional Ohio sports team. Now feeling thoroughly dejected, I headed off to bed.
Thankfully enough, the next day was significantly less awkward. I’d share about that, but nobody likes hearing about good things.
Oh yeah… in case you were wondering. I have had at least a few more awkward run-ins with those office doors. Apparently at random points in the day, you do have to push a button to unlock the doors to leave. Ask my face about it. You also have to wait the perfect amount of time before attempting to open it after scanning your badge. Keeps me alert, I guess. I honestly feel a twinge of triumph when I successfully open those doors. I think the receptionist is happy for me, too.