Thursday, July 31, 2008

WG2 Gets Awkward in the Kitchen

It is no secret that I can be one of the most awkward people you have ever met. Most of the time I like to think I'm not too bad, but place me in certain situations and I turn into a babbling, incoherent, awkward teenage girl. Case in point, my embarrassing London story included the best man, the dance floor, too much champagne, and then having to see him the next day at another wedding event. I will divulge no other details. It was embarrassing enough to have to live through.

Despite drinking and morning after situations, there is another location where I become awkward and that is the office kitchen.

My office actually has a nice kitchen - all new appliances, a nice island that seats four, all the green tea you could ever want, and a huge fridge for storing food. But I rarely venture in the kitchen because it usually results in me having to engage in conversation with people I don't know very well or want to avoid.

Example, a few weeks ago, I was heating up one of my tasty Lean Cuisine (sarcasm noted) when another co-worker of mine whom I had never met waltzed in. He was in obvious need of the microwave as well, so he patiently waited and waited as those 4 four minutes dragged out for eternity. And therein lies my problem. While those 4 minutes seemed to pass so slowly, I tried to make conversation. Yes, I realize this is the polite thing to do when in a co-worker-to-co-worker situation, but I was as awkward as awkward can get.

I brought up all sorts of topic convos - where are you from, how long is your commute, oh you have kids how nice. Then the microwave beeped and I checked on my Lean Cuisine and of course it was still frozen and still looked really unappetizing. So I began a new string of conversation about Wii. As many of you might know, my office just recently got Wii and all of the employees are supposed to make Mii characters. So I asked if he had made one. Can I just mention that this particular co-worker is probably over 50, has children, little knowledge of the English language, and apparently no interest in playing Wii at work. He looked at me blankly and we watched as the minutes on the microwave excruciatingly passed by.

It wouldn't be too bad if this didn't happen to me on a regular basis. Meaning me putting my foot in my mouth. Thankfully many of my co-workers find this endearing so I'm in pretty good shape. But my awkwardness has led me to avoid the office kitchen.

I walk in, grab my water, and walk out trying to avoid eye contact with anyone who might be heating up a bagel or peeling an orange.

Does anyone know where I can take classes on being less awkward in the office kitchen? Because I am need of those. STAT.

33 comments:

gine said...

if i were you, i would let the co-worker lead the conversation.

Just A Spoonful of Sarcasm said...

Oh don't feel bad! Everyone is awkward to some extent. That's what makes people entertaining!
God knows I've had my fair share of awkward moments....and I can't say I'm unlike you. I also become a babbling idiot!
Power to the babbling awkward idiots.

The Rambling Redhead said...

LOL! I go through the same thing here at work in our own kitchen. I usually resort to that old tried-and-true topic…the weather. Can we say awkward with a capital “A”? It's kind of like "how to make conversation" 101 and I end up coming off as a total dweeb.

Sunny said...

Well, since small talks in the office kitchen are inevitable you should keep practising :) And little by little you'll become less awkward. There is also another way of dealing with the problem - never ever go in the kitchen.

Belle of the Ball said...

I loved this post because everyone can relate to it. There is always someplace or sometime that just seems extra awkward. Don't sweat it..they are probably feeling just as awkward as you. They walk away wondering why you are so clever and they are so not.

SilvaMonkey said...

lol "oh u have kids how nice" hahahahah. it'll be my last day using the office kitchen today(done with summer internship*phew*). technically its the coffee room. was awkward today in there cos all i was hearing was "take care of yourself, its been fun having you here (yeah right)i spent most of the time smoking cigarettes outside). anyway it was bye bye time in the coffee room today. i suck @ those *sobb *sobb anyway this shud prolly make its way to my blog. i still havent figured how to add you guys to my blog...

Hazel said...

I'm the same way in my office's kitchen. I always pray that nobody will come in while I'm in there and if I walk in there while someone else is using the microwave or toaster, I leave until they're done. I hate making small talk with the weird people in my office!

The Newlywed said...

I understand! I really don't know many people at work and I despise venturing into the kitchen/cafeteria! My day is full of awkward conversations, have you ever wondered what it would be like if you just walked away in the middle of the conversation without any explanation? I might try it...I'll let you know! I also loved the What a Betty Post! Classic!

J said...

Two solutions:
1) Don't heat your dinner! If you imagine it hot, maybe the pleasure of eating it will be as great as if it was real hot!
2) Install your own oven on you desk!

Either that, or look for a book: 'Kitchen talk for dummies?'

Bye
J
(who is a working guy in fact...)

Alexandreena said...

No idea if there are classes. I mostly walk in, look intimidating and mind my own business. If it's Monday or Friday I may ask about their weekend but that's where it ends. I feel nothing good ever comes out of office kitchen chit-chat.

Herr Wombat said...

I know the feeling..... I do it ALL the time.

Charcoal Renderings said...

What a Miranda Hobbs moment. For those of us livin' the dream, professionalism and personability are trinkets we carry around in our pockets to be used as friendly weapons whenever such an encounter should startle our routines. I do believe that there are seminars in existence that supposedly teach you how to be more personable in the office, but I like to stick to my own tried and true method of a winning smile, a sprinkle of sarcasm, and my reading-people super powers. So, really, all you need to do is endeavor to become a little more clairvoyant and instantly you will connect with Kitchen Joe, and become the best-loved lunchtime conversationalist in the building!
Thank you, Working Girls, for helping spice up my internet travels. Bonjour!

--Emma H.

Kasia said...

Dear, I work people who are really awkward in the kitchen (or a common room in our case). They are all physicists. It wouldn't cross their mind to talk about Wii. I mean Higgs bosons, shimmering stars or laser beams are the going topics. I do feel awkward when I'm trying to talk about the weather :)

Constructive Attitude said...

Yeah why dont you just wait for the other co workers to strike up conversations. why does it always have to be you. dont you think they should make an effort as well?

p.s. loveeeeee your blog :)

in your window as you fight said...

If only it ended at that! At my office we have a "lunchroom" so instead of just rushing in to heat my food, i have to stand there and heat it while six people sit at a table together in complete silence. I usually run to the washroom while my food is heating just to get out of the uncomfortable situation, then i can grab my food and eat it at my desk!

Steph Corwin said...

Too funny! Same way here, so I switched to cup o noodles instead of the 4 minute lean cuisines just so I could get in and get out. People are always so impatient when it comes to the microwave.. it's like hold on buddy! I'm not eating frozen raviolis.

Jot and Tittle said...

Funny, someone said to keep practicing. Soon you'll become the avoided and not the avoidee.
Awkward? Just fake it like everyone else.

20 Something Superhero said...

See.. why is it always the people who try to make an effort, come out as jerks, or awkward? I applaud you for trying to be polite and avoid the awkward silence.

I am the same way, I have to start conversation although, usually if they're rude about it - I'll call them on it... "oh, you don't feel like chatting then? k cool, well have a great day..." then it turns the tables... and THEY feel awkward!!! and it gives me a good laugh afterwards. :)

Herding Cats said...

I can sooo relate to this post. I, too, am awkward. In fact, in college, my roomate nicknamed me "Awkwardo". I'm also a teacher. While I'm not that awkward in front of my high school students, I am sooo awkward around other teachers. In fact, I avoided the teacher's lounge all year, and would pack peanut butter and jelly just to avoid microwave usage. That's the only solution I've got for you - PB&J baby.

Tiger Lily said...

I definitely had a similar encounter the other day...

But I think in this situation, you did what you could, and the other guy was being awkward, so who cares? Save your cute awkwardness for the people that find it cute!

Ann-E said...

If you become "that" girl, people will try to avoid the awkwardness of you and situation will have handled itself.

lisa said...

Hey! I just discovered your blog via Blogger's Blogs of Note and am really enjoying it. Stop by mine and check it out if you have the time. =)

Interesting topic. I have one coworker who's lived abroad for many years, and one day, out of the blue, he remarked that I was comfortable with silence, which is strange for North Americans. When I asked what he meant, he remarked that many North Americans fill what they perceive as awkward silences with nervous superficial chatter, and then complained about how it could be a bit annoying sometimes.

The next time you find yourself in this situation, how about just staying quiet? Or busying yourself by getting a glass of water or rinsing out your coffee mug? Or stepping away from the situation by going to the bathroom while your food heats up (as suggested by one commenter), going back to your desk to check your email, etc?

xxTeenagersxx said...

Omg
I'm one of those awkward persons too!!
I can't seem to say things right someone always ends up taking offense
loll
again love ur blog
hilarious.

JOY FOR CHILDREN said...

Hi working girls,

Thank you for the good inititiative. I am proud to be associated with you.

Moses
www.joyforchildren.org

MyDogFlash said...

That's funny...you pretty much nailed it. Those situations are awkward. The microwave is definitely the bottle neck in the work lunch kitchen environment...probably best to pack a sandwich until next time you want to venture into the work microwave abyss!

Mark said...

You're way cool for trying. My tactic is avoidance by newspaper. I never go in the lunchroom without a paper or magazine to appear engrossed in.

And remember, if your co-worker is good at small talk, they'll carry the conversation. If they don't, they probably suck at it more than you do, and don't even know it. Poor schmucks.

K. Funk Nasty said...

This post is hilarious--I can totally relate! We have over 600 employees at my company and every trip to the break room is enough to turn my stomach. Most of the time I just bring a sandwich so I can just swoop in, grab it out of the fridge, and get the hell out of there as soon as I possibly can. I always feel for those people who bring frozen meals, because they're always standing there, staring at the microwave, obviously praying for it to hurry so they don't have to talk to the person behind them. I never eat in the break room either--I started eating at my desk as to avoid awkward conversations!

Alice in Wonderland said...

hey girl if u happen to find such a class which can remove akwardness than tell me also about it. :)

Ken said...

Yes, This should do the trick!
Keep a bottle in your desk and take a shot just before you go to the kitchen.

RIO said...

I once chatted away for several minutes to a guy who turned out to be stone deaf. Talk about awkward. Go me!

Life...or Something Like it said...

My office is not very big but my side does not talk much to the IT guys. So when I go to heat up my lunch, I throw it in the microwave and bee-line to the bathroom. I wash my hands when I'm done of course and go back hoping no one is in there. If there is, I smile very awkwardly and it is dead silence. I wish I had the courage to at least say something. I say good for you for being the person to break the ice.

Sampada said...

glad to know tht i m not d only 1 having this "small-talk" trouble. Awkward? if u make conversation..its usually silly, if u dont, silence kills..& i cant keep waiting for d other person to start..so i just pretend to paas by the coffee place if some1's already present thr :-)..at other times i try hard to memorize the pattern on my shoes (hahaha) till the other person feels awkward enuf to start talking or leave..

. said...

I know it can be antisocial but bring a book with you when you go into the kitchen. That way you can just read and people (generally) won't bother you and you look smart!