About that new guy at work

I’m always running my mouth, at home, on the Internet, at work. Especially at work. At the restaurant, it’s not like I’m even trying to get in anybody’s way, I just can’t help myself. I’ll see two or three people standing around doing what they’re doing and I have this compulsion to go over and start talking. And I don’t even have anything to say, not really, I’m just bored, I just want to hear the sound of my own voice, I just want some distraction from the mundane of the workday.

For example, maybe two people will be polishing silverware and I’ll walk up behind them and insert myself into whatever it is they’re doing. I’ll pretend like I’m in charge, like I’ll start giving critiques on what they’re doing, something like, “Ooh, hey guys, let’s make sure that when we’re polishing, we’re like really polishing, like let’s make an effort to really make sure that we’re getting each piece of silverware just really sparkling clean. Is that cool? I’m not saying you guys are doing a bad job. No, not a bad job. A great job? Well, definitely not a bad job. Let’s just constantly strive to focus on how we can improve, like how can we be doing this better more efficiently, stuff like that.”

Like one or two sentences in, one of them is sure to walk away, but I can’t stop myself. I just have to keep going. I have this natural ability to go on and on and on like that, without pause, for hours. I could have stood there talking about silverware for the rest of the shift. But like I said, I’ve gotten to the point at this job where people will see me start to open my mouth, and they’ll roll their eyes and look for some other direction in which they might escape.

And so it was getting rough there for a while, me, constantly in need of attention, everybody else, not wanting to give me any attention at all. I’d try to go a whole night without running my mouth, like maybe I might gain back the esteem of my colleagues, and then after a couple of weeks of acting like a regular employee, I could slowly start making long-winded jokes again. But I tried, and I couldn’t even get through one night.

It got to the point where I figured I’d exhausted the patience of pretty much everyone on the staff, and so I was just about ready to hand in my two-week’s notice, to move on to another job with a new group of coworkers. But then we got this new hire, a guy about my age. He made it through training no problem, and as he started his first few nights on the floor, I thought, well, maybe he’ll listen to me for a while, maybe I can joke around with the new guy without having to worry about him walking away mid-sentence.

So I went up to him one day while he was at the computer and I was like, “Hey man, I bet you can’t guess what number I’m thinking of.” I would do something like this pretty often. Even if whoever I asked wound up guessing correctly, I’d never admit it. I’d just keep saying, “Nope. Nope. Nope,” until it was painfully obvious that I was just wasting everybody’s time.

But this guy, as soon as I said, “Hey man, I bet you can’t guess what number …” he just blurts out, “Seven,” and he’s looking me right in the eye and I’m taken a little by surprise, I mean, it’s not like I was really trying to pick a number, I never do, but I guess yeah, seven kind of was in my head, like maybe just formulating that question, my mind picked out a number at random. I think. Or did he say seven so quickly that it caught me off guard? Like maybe he said seven and I started thinking about seven right away?

“Nope,” I told him, he was like, “Really,” the whole time looking at me right in the eye. Man, this guy was such a weirdo, always straight-faced. I mean, yeah, I spend probably a little too much time goofing around at work, but this guy, it’s like he’s a machine, an emotionless, soulless robot. And he just kept staring at me, this creepy gaze.

One time a couple of days later, he’s standing around with a group of three or four other coworkers, they’re not doing anything, everybody’s checking their cell phones. I decide to walk over and start talking a bunch of nonsense, I say, “I’ll give anybody two hundred bucks if they can guess what song I’ve got stuck in my head.” It’s classic, because they can never prove it, I’ve got their attention, and even if they got it right, there’s no way I’m paying two hundred bucks.

But again, this new guy, he looks me right in the eye and he starts singing along with the exact song as it’s playing in my head. And I can’t make excuses for it this time, there’s no trying to justify whether or not who put what in who’s head. This is like, line for line, he’s in my head, I’m hearing this song, and he’s mouthing it out in real time. And that gaze is locked, I can’t pull myself away, I can’t turn the song off in my head, everything’s out of control. I’d like to freak out and run away, to say something, anything, but I’m frozen.

Finally the song ends, I can feel him let go of the mental lock, he stops singing, he just opens out his hand and says, “Pay up.”