Have you ever said this, to yourself or someone else? I know I have, usually to myself. It seems like the list of people who truly know Me is very short. My wife is one. Our children are still working it out, but they’ve got a pretty good handle on it. A few close friends.
I take a lot of shit at work. The boss is a man who used to make his living in construction – selling insulation, drywall. He has a degree in accounting. His worldview is pretty simple. The world is a box of nails, and he’s the hammer. He doesn’t quiet know what to do with something like me, something that isn’t a nail.
The other partner is a salesman who has made his living in IT as a programmer/database operator. His worldview is also fairly simple. All the world’s a baseball diamond, and he’s got a box of bats.
They don’t know me. It’s been ten years.
Years ago, when I first came to this company, I would pepper conversations and emails with descriptive language. It was – and still is, outside of work – a way of making myself understood. I hate ambiguity. I will not say, “very good” if “great” is more accurate, even though they seem very similar. To me, they are not, they are as different as blue and red. DataGuy put quit to that one day by remarking, “You’re so dramatic.” Now, I never express myself beyond what one would call “an executive summary.” I’ve dumbed down my speech, in other words.
They don’t know me. They’ve never made the effort.
I never turn on the overhead fluorescent lights in my office. Instead, I have two lamps, a torchier and a can light, both of which shine on the ceiling. Compared to the rest of the space, my office is dark. They call it “the bat cave.” When I first started this practice – buying my own lamps, so no one can accuse me of abusing the company credit card – I heard a lot of comments, most of which took on some variation of “Boy, you sure must like the dark.”
No, I don’t like the dark. I wear glasses, and I have a strong desire to look at my monitors without fighting through glare. When our office was downtown, I covered the windows behind my monitor for the same reason…though Boss and DataGuy ignored the fact that the window beside me was unblocked so I could see out. I don’t like the dark: I hate eye-strain.
I’ve explained that. It doesn’t matter. DataGuy is a believer now, having installed indirect lighting in place of the overheads (though he did his on the company card.) I still take shit for it from time to time.
For the last week or so, I’ve had a standing desk. Okay, more accurately, I have a shelf on my desk that raises my keyboard and mouse so I can work standing up. My feet aren’t enjoying it, but my back sure does. I’m more alert since I can’t slouch and get sleepy. Since I’m more alert I’m more productive, and some of the lazier habits I’ve developed over the years seem to be interrupted. It’s nice.
The first couple of days, no one really noticed. This morning, BossMan noticed. “You like that?” …Yeah… “Need to raise your monitors?” …No, but I can ‘shelf’ them too, if I need to… “You ought to hang ’em from the ceiling.” …What?… “Yeah, nobody’s done that before.” Delivered in a voice with a “Why do you have to be so goddamn different?” harmonic.
I have a return question: why isn’t it okay to be so goddamn different?