I work in a lab with a group of people who represent a varied cross section of personalities, quirks, and origins. The lab itself is one of the more difficult labs in which I have ever worked. The work load is extreme and the people are often so different from me I’m at a loss to understand their actions. That is a big part of why I stay.
I could find an easier job that would leave me more energy to write but I doubt I could find such a group again. Ever since I started in this lab I have worked with extreme people. Maybe that explains why so many people have been fired. No place I have ever worked before fired people like they do here.
There were times when I found their extreme behavior unsettling, so much so I considered quitting. That is when I realized they are all excellent sources for character traits. After all, if people doing routine lab work are so extreme in their behavior they can make me want to run, that is a good character to read about. Today, I would like to share a few things I’ve picked up on.
Everyone knows the stereotypical soccer mom, the woman who has children who can do no wrong. I work with someone who takes that stereotype to the next level. Not only does she describe their perfect behavior but often describes her own because she is well aware she is not a ‘Soccer Mom’. She does not brag about her children except when they are amazing and when she’s amazing she relates that too.
There is another woman, not Soccer Mom, who is perfect. She speaks with a gentle, feminine trill, smiles sweetly at all of us, never says a mean thing, and works like she doesn’t know pain or sickness. She is always there and always in a good mood. Would characters in my stories think she was too good to be true and distrust her or would they accept her as the best person to keep close, a balm in their sad life? I might make her the ultimate villain. Who would suspect her?
There have been various supervisors that pulled so many mean stunts I have a book of them. I recorded them so when I need someone to act crazy and I can’t think of anything crazy enough, I go to those notes.
Even the cafeteria at my workplace has bizarre moments. One day I walked in, a long walk to the tables and chairs. I turned down a row of tables and saw a woman straddling a chair. You know, she had the chair turned backwards and rested her arms and head on the back. Her ass faced the greater part of the cafeteria. She was also fat, over three hundred pounds of fat with a lot of that on her ass. He pants didn’t cover, especially with her leaning forward on her arms. I saw a foot of ass crack, easy. It stopped me in my tracks. She had to know she was exposed. She had to feel the coolness of the cafeteria but she didn’t care. Maybe she wanted to be seen.
That says everything about this place. People don’t care. They just want to be heard and seen. They act in ways the normal population would shun. I don’t know if they do it for attention or know no better. It works for me.
I’m a writer. I’ve told them I will remember things they do. I’ve told them I will write about them. It was a warning none of them heeded, thankfully. Work is an amazing place to watch and find characters weirder than anyone I could ever invent.