My friend Calvin is an earnest young man who has overcome many obstacles, but, who, in his mid-twenties is still trying to figure things out. I met him when he lived in a group home in Black Mountain. When he lived here, he impressed me with his drive to succeed. He had to walk miles to get to take the bus to ABTech, but he never missed a class and finished his GED with high scores. He decided to start a program for veterinary techs, but fate intervened and he had to move to Gastonia where he lost his momentum. Since then he has fumbled along, holding one low-paying job after another. But he still hasn’t given up.
He called today to wish me a Happy New Year, and I asked him if he was working. He explained that he was working two jobs in a nearby mall, but didn’t know how long he would continue.
“Why not?” I asked him.
“I like the jobs okay,” he said. “But some of the people I work with are really annoying. I work really hard, and the rest of them do nothing and just wait for me to do the work.”
It occurred to me just as he explained the situation that there was one piece of advice I can offer, even though I try not to give advice. No matter where you work, there will always be annoying people. Working here at Chifferobe is the very first place I have worked where I haven’t wanted to kill a coworker. And that is because I work alone.
I went through images in my memory of every job I have ever had, and the first faces to pop up were the people who drove me crazy. And it didn’t get better as I “matured.” The last job I had before I opened Chifferobe was for a nonprofit. The manager would leave the office every day for some reason after about an hour of work, and as soon as he left, the rest of the staff would also leave. He would set goals for each of us at our Monday meetings, and would ask the following Monday how we were doing at meeting those goals. Only one other worker and I were trying, the rest didn’t give a damn. They reported that they simply hadn’t met the goals, and the boss would urge them to try harder next week. And so it went. It was infuriating!
I started trying to categorize the traits of the irritating people at work, and isolated a few: People who just didn’t do any work, People who complain all the time about how much work they had to do (when you had at least as much), People who are stupid, People who follow all rules, even when they are ridiculous, and finally, People who won’t ever cuss no matter what. Oh, I just want to slap them!
So I told Calvin, “Here is the truth, and don’t ever forget it. It doesn’t matter where you work, there will always be annoying people. Even people you could cheerfully strangle. And you just have to get over it! You have to figure out a way to tune them out or just tell yourself that it isn’t about you. But the main thing is not to think that if you change jobs, there won’t be any annoying people there. There will always be annoying people until you are self-employed. So just do your thing and try not to worry about other people.