I made the mistake of smiling at him at some point in my first few week on the job. The thin and fit, 50 year old maintenance man whom I'll call "John" because it sounds identity-protecting (even though his name really is John) dubbed me "Smiley." I'll just state that at no point in my 30 odd years of life (especially in a professional working capacity) has anyone every called me that. I beg to differ that I put out a kind of vivacious, bubbly personality that would render me full of smiles. Sure, I enjoy laughing and carrying on (just ask my former colleagues). Usually I enjoy myself to the point that it gets me into trouble. But that's only if its with people I know. And seeing how this office is quite possibly the most sobering place ever, the janitor who just met me would never know that!
Yet, just three weeks into the job, John, who has those kind of teeth that come to a point and form a "V," calmly sat down at my table in the cafeteria and began to talk. Ad nauseum. He regaled me with tales about prostitutes and chicken barbecues. Judges and fingerless laborers. The Navy and bi-polycarbonate plastics. Totally obscure and random things. Certainly not office lunchroom material to share with a stranger such as myself.
And just last week he cornered me near the time clock and told me all about being a bartender/cook at a picnic over the weekend where all the old ladies there were flirting with him. As he's telling it, I'm picturing the movie "Cocktail." But this guy is no Tom Cruise. Yes, he is short and full of himself, but he doesn't have the charisma of a guy who jumps on couches and picks up young women. "Oh, wait, he's working on picking me up," I thought. He offered to bring in some pulled pork from the picnic for me. I wanted to run away. Get to a safe place.
"Maybe my desk," I thought. "No. Not there. He'll only follow me there and stay. Doesn't this guy have any bathrooms to clean right now?"
So instead, I just stood there and listened and nodded. With a God-damned smile on my face. Damn it.