Forgetting How to Type When Being Watched (and Other Office Phenomena)
Like a beam of light, office elevators transport us to an alternate universe filled with the unexplained. Lunches mysteriously disappear from fridges even when clearly marked. The point you spent all night getting just right, suddenly gets lost on the tip of your tongue the next day. And, where is that email you know you sent that your colleague claims you didn’t. You’re not crazy. WHERE IS IT? Is this The Twilight Zone?!
You’re not alone. Let’s explore the strange occurrences we encounter every day, but can never explain, in the office.
No matter how prepared you are for that client meeting, if you’ve included media in your presentation, especially video, expect something to go wrong. You may have tested the clip on different computers beforehand to ensure the video will play. You may have even tested it just moments before show time. But now, you’ve got all eyes on you with crickets in the background and a black screen where the video should be. Oh, the irony. Make a little joke and then move on to plan B. Having a back-up demonstration that you practiced will make you look even more professional – even if it does involve stick-figures.
I don’t know what it is that can turn a tech-savvy employee like yourself into a technically challenged buffoon the minute someone’s watching you. But, I think it has something to do with the same paranormal force that causes stage fright. Your vision is blurrier; your fingers fumble over letters when they typically glide across the keyboard like a classical pianist. And, when someone leans over your shoulder to direct you to a folder on the office shared drive, you forget the basic functionalities of a computer – like ex-ing out when you just meant to minimize, triple-clicking icons spastically because you’re so nervous and trying to find a folder that is literally staring you in the face while your co-worker watches in awe. (I’m getting anxious just thinking about it.) Next time, take a deep breath and try to channel your inner-middle schooler who was a flipping wiz at AOL Instant Messenger, even with dial-up, surfing the chat rooms with a screen name like MegRulz103 (that was actually my first screen name).
I don’t think there’s anything worse than when you scramble to get out of the door on time to make an important morning meeting and realize when you’re taking off your commuter flip flops that you left your heels at home. Your heart stops. Then, you search and search in that Mary Poppins tote of yours, practically pushing aside a closet worth of everything else but the stilettos you swore you packed. Now, you have a choice. You could walk into that meeting like you just got back from a beach vacation and let your boss burn a whole though your skull with her judging eyes or high-tail it back to your apartment to change and return late at least looking like you graduated from college ready for a big-girl job. (We’ve all been there.)
The Elusive Lunch
With wedding season clogging your calendar, your bank account is draining fast. (Seriously, did your friends even think about your financial situation before they fell selfishly fell in love and chose wedding dates back-to-back? So self-centered.) Your brilliant idea to start bringing your lunch – and to learn how to cook and stuff – is sure to help since selling your clothes to the local consignment shop resulted in a store credit (could that sign have been any smaller and the salesperson any snootier?!) But, packing your lunch doesn’t help when you leave it on the kitchen counter where you put it specifically so that you wouldn’t forget it. Not only will you have to pay for lunch now, but half of the food in the bag will spoil from being left out in your hot apartment since you – for the first time ever – remembered to turn off the AC to save money. And, the irony continues.
Sometimes you just work better jamming to your favorite playlist – shooting out emails and wrapping up reports to the beat. But, we all have that one song that’s our guilty pleasure. The one we blast when our roommates are gone, hide so that no one on the train sees the cover art on our iPhone and listen to in our cube to get through a crazy busy day. So when you’re in the midst of the latter, mouthing the words to High School Musical, eyes squinted with emotion, and hand motions ready for your favorite part, you die when you read the email from a guy across the room informing you that “your headphones aren’t plugged in all the way.” Ugh, this has to be some sort of conspiracy.
We may never know the reasons behind these UFOs – unidentified frustrating obstacles – that terrorize us in the office, making our lives much more difficult than necessary. I can tell you this: you can run, but you most certainly can’t hide, coming from the girl who has been in all of these scenarios more than once. My best advice to you is to accept that this extraterrestrial force exists, always plan for the worst and be ready to bounce back with a vengeance – and a cocktail or two. May the force be with you!
Megan Broussard is ProfessionGal – a southern PR girl living in NYC. She enjoys critiquing resumes, blogging about style and the young professional lifestyle, along with reviewing the latest office supplies.For the latest gossip on all things career-centric, find her on Twitter/Instagram (@professiongal), Facebook (facebook.com/professiongal), Pinterest (pinterest.com/professiongal) and her blog: professiongal.com.