Sunday, 10 August 2008

Ideal workmates

My new workmates are a lovely bunch. They made me feel at home right away. They happily help me out when I'm floundering. And best of all, they haven't yet brought up any of those irritating topics I'm sick to death of talking about. Mainly because whatever I say no one ever understands. I simply don't compute. For example:

1. "Goodness, you're so thin. You need fattening up. Have a scone. In fact, have two scones."

2. "So why are you vegetarian? What's wrong with meat? Doesn't veggie food get boring?"

3. "Why do you have a blog, then? Isn't it just a substitute for a proper social life?"

4. "What, you're not interested in sport? No sport at all? Not even the Olympics? Not even Tom Daley?"

5. "You never wanted children then? Wouldn't you like to be a Grandad? I just adore my kids."

6. "So why did you come to Belfast? Do you like it here? Do you ever think of going back to London?"

7. "How come you quit journalism? But it's so glamorous, so exciting. Hobnobbing with all those celebs."

8. "What, you never watched The Apprentice? I couldn't drag myself away. I was really rooting for X." (actually one person did ask me this)

9. "You don't like getting drunk? But this is Ireland, mate. Everyone gets wrecked. How else can you enjoy life?"

10. "You're so bloody healthy, how do you do it? What's your secret? It must be genetic."

But they have talked to me about whether the office needs a trade union, the best holiday spots, what changes the new chief executive might make, and the war in Iraq. Now that's more like it. Things we can have a sensible conversation about. Things we might even agree on. Where my own position might actually be understood. It makes a nice change.

Am I really that perplexing or is it just that imagination is in short supply?


  1. Nick:
    The questions you list are so bloody personal.
    It is so great when conversation moves into a more intellectual level.
    It sounds like the new job atmosphere is fantastic!

  2. www - I hadn't really thought of them as personal, just difficult to answer. I've nothing against personal questions, I just wish people were seriously interested in the response.

  3. Person who "bothers" to ask the questions may:

    1) be trying to connect with you the way she/he thinks is "correct"/way she knows/

    2) just nosey?

    3) genuinely interested in you?

  4. Just Me - I do appreciate the questioner is probably well-intentioned and even genuinely interested. Unfortunately good intentions aren't enough without a serious attempt to understand the other person's perspective. Otherwise the only result is mutual frustration and annoyance!

  5. one word of advice - IGNORE!
    unfortunately they will not cease and desist - it's an Irish thing

  6. Congratulations on the new job and new workmates that live up to your ideal workmate criteria and expectations. Bosses and workmates, we usually end up spending more quality time with them than our loved ones...

  7. Quicky - Oh, is it just an Irish thing? Okay, I'll try to ignore. Naturally I'll let you all know if any of these topics raise their ugly heads!

    Niall and Gayé - Thanks! I actually negotiated a four day week so I'd have more personal time, so the balance is quite good. But yes, we spend an awful lot of time with workmates, so if they're awful, best to ship out fast (assuming the mortgage will allow it)!

  8. You don't eat meat? I don't understand! Are you ok?

    Congrats on the job. :)

  9. Wow, inteleectually stimulating conversation in the work place, you lucky dog!

    Not being able to "converse" about football teams leaves you standing alone in the male world.

    Who is Tom Daley anyway?

    Glad you landed on your feet Nick.

  10. Glad to hear things are going so well - I firmly believe decent colleagues are the most important thing about any job.

  11. Nick sorry about the Niall and Gaye thing, it's actually just Gaye :) logged in with a different account that we have.

  12. Darren - I still get puzzled looks when I ask for vegetarian options in out-of-the-way restaurants. Yet half the world's population is vegetarian!

    Muddy - Tom is a 14 year old diving prodigy from Plymouth who's competing in the Olympics for the first time. He was in action this morning but unhappily didn't do well.

    Caro - Absolutely. If you don't have decent people to work with, it rapidly becomes hell on stilts. My previous job was moving in that direction after a lot of staff changes. But I was made redundant anyway.

    Gayé - No apologies needed. I guessed you were being a bit promiscuous, ha ha.

  13. I laughed out loud reading this because I have my own set of questions/statements that I can no longer hear without turning away for an eye-roll.

    I actually gave up on vegetarianism after a year in Belfast - it became especially taxing at Sunday dinners where my mother-in-law repeatedly said with a wink "I've made some chicken for you, since you don't eat meat."

    My personal favourite is the plethora of questions about why I would possibly want to live in Belfast instead of America, swiftly followed by a torrent of anti-American jokes and a lecture on the evils of George Bush.

    Congrats on the job! Long may the good times last.

  14. Quickroute is right. The best tactic is to ignore them, bring up something you do want to talk about or ask them an equally personal question - the problem with the personal question is, that they just might answer it.

    Congrats on the new job, being healthy and a vegitarian. Remember to take various supplements such as iron, you won't get it from a meat free diet.

    I say that as a doctor (future doctor).

    I agree with you, I hate all reality TV. The only exceptions to this are Strictly Come Dancing and Dancing On Ice. I appreciate the fact the participants have to learn a new skill, in order to remain in the competition.

  15. FG - Of course, chicken doesn't count as meat. And many, many people seem to think vegetarians eat fish. How many times do we have to explain?

    Indeed, when did Northern Ireland last declare war on a foreign country? How many Iraqis and Afghans have we killed recently? So wouldn't we prefer to live in the States?

    DJ - I hope no vegetarians rely on you for advice. There's stacks of iron in veggie foods - wheat, oats, nuts, figs, lentils, soya beans, kidney beans, cinnamon, garam masala, rosemary and paprika to name but a few. I'm worried about the quality of your medical training.

  16. I think I'd find all those questions hard to handle without replying by using a few choice swear words or making up an outrageous reply, just for a laugh.

  17. Dave - As my regular visitors know, I'm not a big swearer, but an outrageous reply is good thinking. Why don't I drink? Well, the fact is my parents both died in a horrific car crash caused by a drunk-driver going at 93 miles an hour on the wrong side of the road....

  18. Nick I think the answer to that notorious question: Why don't you drink or get smashed every night drinking, is just wonderful. Make the bastards feel bad they ever asked. It's much better than swearing and making a scene anyways. They will think twice next time!
    Imho, drink driving is such a huge problem in Ireland, yet everyone seems to ignore it.

  19. hehe they sound so familiar - the type of questions you've answered so many times you just 'press play' to reply.

    Re No. 2 I always get asked What do you eat? I think this is such a ridiculous question that I still ahve no answer and just look at them in wonder and mutter...Everything...I eat everything but meat!

  20. Gayé - Absolutely, drink-driving is a massive problem in Ireland, but apart from a few shock-horror media headlines everyone pretends it doesn't happen and a few little drinkies really don't affect their driving skills.

    Conor - The number of times I've been asked that question! As if there's no other food on the planet except lettuce leaves, tofu and nut rissoles. Even if I point out all the vegetarian food they eat every day, like peanut butter sandwiches or baked potatoes, do they listen?

  21. Don't worry, they'll get around to asking you some of that sort of stuff. People can't help but ask this sort of stuff. :)

  22. Liz - Unfortunately you're probably right. People can't help themselves! As I said to Quicky, I'll be sure to report back if any of them come up!

  23. I only finished my 1st year and chose not to do Nutrition. It is 1 of the modules, that is deemed unessential. Unless you wish to became a Nutritionalist or a Pediatrition.

    Most med students don't take the Nutrition module. As a cosequence of this most Doctors, especially GP's will tell you to take supplememts. Especially if your a vegitarian. It is because we know nothing about Nutrition, except for a vague awareness that it is important to health.

    But, I want to be an A&E doctor, that is mostly stitching people up, setting broken bones and dealing with drunks and drug users. Lots of blood, gore and general messiness. Very little, "Oh, I see your not eating properly".

    There isn't even a lot of illness involved, unless a patient suffers from something chronic like Diabetes or HIV, or something terminal like Aids.

    Usually when a patient comes into A&E as the result of disease, they are stablised and sent elsewhere in the hospital. I.E. To less a overwhelmed department, that is better equiped to handle the patient's long-term care.

  24. I work well under pressure, that is why I want to be a Doctor in A&E. Being a GP would be very boring, to me it would be sedate and leisurely.

    There is no way I could be Nutritionist. People hear the word Nutritionist and the think of Gillian McKeith. I don't want to be thought of in those terms.

    And I could never be a Pediatrian. It is one thing to be surrounded by death, disease and injury. But when kids are involved, that requires a very strong person. To keep them from giving up.

    A kid with a broken arm I can handle, I can even handle the thought of a kid dying from injuries sustained in a car crash. But a kid dying from Cancer, I'm just not equipped for that.

  25. dj - If that's true that most medical students don't study nutrition, that's quite alarming considering nutrition is implicated in so many illnesses. I admire anyone working in A&E, it must be a thankless task treating so many people who've probably caused their own ailments and injuries through drink, drugs and general recklessness.

  26. I'm late catching up here.

    Good to hear about the job Nick. I was forever giving outragious replies to personal questions I didn't want to answer. Folk soon learned!

    I eat birdseed, still waiting for the voice to improve ;)

  27. Grannymar - I'm intrigued. What sort of replies did you unleash on them? I've obviously been far too polite up till now.

  28. Flirty - Ah, if I had a pound for every time I'd discussed the weather, I'd be a billionaire. Sadly, that subject is absolutely routine.

  29. Thanks, TH. I'm not ready to retire yet, still plenty of life in the old dog!