As a contractor with over 10 years experience working in investment banks in London I’ve met a lot of people. Some have been excellent co-workers, some run of the mill and some I just down right didn’t like. In most companies you usually get a few people who do some weird things. I worked at one bank where it seemed like all the permanent staff were hired depending on the ridiculousness of their laugh. Everything from gaffaws, machine-gun stutters, belly chuckles, the lot. There was even a woman who giggled at literally everything she heard, funny or not.
I’ve come to expect some weirdness at every company I work for but sometimes, just occasionally you hit a rich vein of weirdness. The company I worked for in 2006 for example.
The people there were nice enough but they had some very very strange ideas about how to conduct themselves around the office. I think the problem was actually with their leadership, but I’ll come to him later.
So why were they weird?
How many companies have you worked for when 3 times a day most of the people around you suddenly announce that it’s time to “walk those stairs”? Off they would all trot, over to the lift, down to the basement. Then as a group they would all power-walk up to the 22nd floor. Some would even do it twice. They’d then arrive back in the office all sweaty and out of breath slapping each other on the back and loudly telling everyone that it was the hardest yet. This didn’t happen at lunchtime of course, when all the normal people who wanted to keep fit were down the gym, no they did their exercise during company time.
Another weird thing was an almost religious obsession with stress balls and desk toys. Not a day went by without a stress ball getting thrown at each other/themselves/the ceiling. Old CDs being flipped like a beermats on the desk. None of this gets down quietly of course. It happens as loudly as possible.
As I mentioned earlier the problem probably stems from their role-model. I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone so weird.
This man had serious issues. For a start he lived solely on bananas. Never ate anything else and had the physique of a man who was not eating enough. He also always had a cold and we all used to cringe as he performed his hourly nose clearance by trumpetting like a elephant into a napkin. If this wasn’t bad enough he’d then always inspect the napkin to see what he managed to get out. It was like one day something other than snot might have come out. I’m not at all sure what he was expecting.
One day someone pointed out to me the way this guy used to use a mouse. He had the mouse on the left-hand side of the keyboard but used it with his right hand. Which meant crossing his arms over every time he wanted to use the mouse. This is seriously strange behaviour but not nearly as weird as his 45 min rule which sent him scurrying off to the toilets for a pee every 45 mins. All day long he’d be up and down, heading off to shake the snake. Naturally he didn’t walk the quickest way to the toilet. Oh no, he’d take the scenic route down the back of the building and through another office. There was much amusement factor though if he happened to be in a meeting for more than 45 minutes because he’d always start walking up and down trying not to pee himself towards and end of the meeting. The moment it was over off he’d run to the toilet.
You’d think that would be as weird as anyone could manage but this guy had a party trick. On arriving at the toilet he’d find a free urinal at the end of the row and then turn 45 degrees to face the rest of the urinals. Which is hugely off-putting if you happen to be in there as well. Having this manager pissing in your direction, whilst smiling at you. Normally he’d even manage a fart as well. I guess you can’t really blame him for that though after eating all those bananas.
Did I mention that he even had a silly laugh?