August 24, 2006

The Trouble With Charlie

The other day, Dee got me thinking about annoying people I've had to put up with in my past. After stumbling through some of the many mental roadblocks my subconscious erected to prevent me from ever returning to his memory, I immediately thought of Charlie, Database Savant.

Charlie was the database guy at the company I worked for several lives ago. Among database guys in the Kingdom of Oracle, Charlie was pretty much the freakin' rain man. The guy could set up the most complex Oracle database inside an hour and troubleshoot so fast, he should have been working for Jack Bauer. But his interpersonal skills sucked...much like Chloe O'Brien, come to think of it.

Charlie was a close-talker. Having Charlie approach you in the hallway was like having a sudden attack of vertigo. My first instinct was almost always to just fall down, Kramer-like, at the sudden invasion of personal space. He was so close, he should have bought me a drink first. Charlie, having identified me early on as a fellow geek, would come into my office all the damn time for a quick chat. And by quick, I'm talking an hour at the very least. And all he could talk about were his beloved databases. I often thought he'd break out his billfold and show off tiny wallet-sized hierarchical diagrams of his favorite databases, much like you or I would show off our kids. When he was in my office, talking about his databases, he'd gradually move closer and closer so, by the time he left, I'd been forced into a position parallel to the floor. It didn't help that Charlie's breath was awful. And his bald head smelled like sweat.

The first year Charlie worked for the company, I dragged my wife to the Christmas party. Charlie and his wife were scheduled to make an appearance. It was important that Beth understand what I was going through and that I got a chance to see who married this guy. They showed up, we met and the rest of the evening revolved around developing strategies to flee. See, Charlie's wife was nice but, while he was inexplicably hung up on databases, all she could talk about were sandwiches. It was the most twisted, geeked-out and disturbing evening I've ever spent. Imagine Rain Man and that guy from Forrest Gump who could only talk about shrimp, only, in this case, think sandwiches. Scared yet?

Her: There's the Ruben, the club, oh, and the hamburger, of course...
Him: many different ingredients, you could really just build a big Oracle database...
Her: ...then you have all your deli meats, you know, your turkey and your ham and your salami...
Him: ...and there are a bunch of parts to a sandwich so the bread has its own table while the meat or filling has its own too...
Her: ...and condiments. Don't get me started on Charlie and his condiments...
Him: ...of course, you could mix them all up so that would make the queries that much harder to design...
Her: ...that one day I used rye instead of pumpernickel, yeah, we'll be telling our grandkids about that one...

We eventually escaped and no one had to die. Someone was lucky. The truth was, though, that I kinda liked Charlie. He was exceptional at what he did. And he loved it. He loved sandwiches and so did his wife. They were at best eccentric, at worst, insane and made for each other. No harm in that.

So, what about you? I'm sure you've got work freaks.

Posted by Chris at August 24, 2006 7:11 AM

Oh, Chris, you just tapped a HUGE subject for me. Let's see, I've got the guy who rewrote company policy to bring his hamster to work. Yeah, shared an office with him. Man, was that guy a piece of work. I reunite with other coworkers occasionally for happy hours that end up being dominated by stories about him.-

And then there was the gal who left the printout of her porno audition directions on the shared printer.

Posted by: Nicole at August 24, 2006 7:42 AM

One co-worker has a combover that starts from his neck, reating a part in the back.
He walks around without any shame constantly picking his nose.
3 or 4 times a day he goes into the bathroom and rubs one out pretty obviously.
No men will use that bathroom.

Posted by: That Girl at August 24, 2006 7:53 AM

Oh yeah, and if he takes a bagel or doughnut, they go into the trash after that.

Posted by: That Girl at August 24, 2006 7:54 AM

The image of you falling on the floor like Kramer absolutely made my day!

There's a guy that works here that comes and goes at will. He's an hourly employee like the majority of us, but for some reason (probably because he's been here for, like 200 years) he can do as he pleases. Come in an hour late? No problem. 3 hour lunch? No problem. Run to the post office at 2:15? No problem. Afternoon off without telling anyone? No problem. And yet, he never runs out of vacation time...

Oh, and he brings his children (ages 12 and 10--that's weird in and of itself because he's 65 if he's a day) to work ALL THE TIME. Not such a big deal, except no one under the age of 16 is allowed in the building for safety and biosecurity reasons. No fair.

Posted by: Alissa at August 24, 2006 8:00 AM

We have a guy here... who ONLY EATS CHICKEN... breakfast, lunch, snacks.... ONLY CHICKEN!! And I do believe in the 3+ years I have worked here... he's starting too look more like a tanorexic chicken...

Posted by: Stephanie at August 24, 2006 8:18 AM

They do say there is someone for everyone. I would have been tempted to ask the couple how they met.

Posted by: Washington Cube at August 24, 2006 8:20 AM

Sounds like Charlie met his balanced partner, and it sounds like they both have Asperger's Syndrome or a form of Autism.

Nice to see someone out there loving what they do, and people like you who humor them, even if it makes you uncomfortable at times.

Gives me hope for my son's future in the workforce.


Posted by: Shash at August 24, 2006 8:20 AM

I worked with a guy that had one fake eye, which caused depth perception problems, or so I assume. The first time I met him he had me backed into a corner of my cube trying to escape.

There was the woman who wore cut-off camouflage pants and wife beater t-shirts to work (a professional office, I might add, although it was a software company so things were a little more lax, but not that lax).

Abd the guy who forgot he had his slippers on when he left for work so he wore them around the office all day.

Posted by: Carolyn at August 24, 2006 8:21 AM

Washington Cube: I think she was a "sandwich designer" at Subway and he came in and placed his nightly dinner order at her shop. She put a lid on that Kaiser and called it a day because knew she had him at "would that be a 6" or a foot-long".

Posted by: kristen at August 24, 2006 8:32 AM

Charlie sure does sound interesting. I used to share an office with this girl, we'll call her Jen, who on her first day told me how pretty she was (which was a lie), how smart she was, and how much guys all liked her (also a lie). I knew from the start that it was going to be oh, so much fun sharing an office with her. At one point she started dating a guy because they had one major thing in common - their love of zombies. And that's all they ever talked about. Then a week later she had a new boyfriend, who she brought to the company picnic and then proceeded to make out with him for the entire length of the picnic. She left soon after that - she had been accepted to a PhD program in D.C. and she didn't know if she should go. I told her she really shouldn't pass on an opportunity like she was being given, so she went (you can thank me for this if you ever run into her). And I have been a happier person ever since.

Posted by: Jessie at August 24, 2006 8:37 AM

There's one lady here that is actually very good at paperwork kinds of things, but that's about it. When I first met her, I thought she got hired through her (I'm sorry if this is not PC, I don't mean any offense to anyone, and don't know the right thing to say) assisted living home, because I thought she was *slow* (but she's not). Her laugh - OMG - it's horrifying and most often - inappropriate but not in a funny way.

Posted by: ktjrdn at August 24, 2006 8:41 AM

I'm afraid I've become one of "those people" recently. My answer to "how's it going?" usually involves the health status of one of my pets.

Fortunately, I'm always "out-weirded" by my coworker who has Asperger's Syndrome - he is absolutely freaking brilliant scholar besides being a kind and generous person, but you simply can not hold him to regular social standards or expect "normal" behavior from him - you just frustrate yourself and waste time.
(He won at "Jeporady!" - twice!)

Posted by: Betti at August 24, 2006 8:45 AM

I am a fellow geek, I work in a hospital IT Dept. Two guys in our dept, one being our database guy, like to pass gas and record themselves. BTW, this is done at their desks! It is really bad!

Posted by: josh at August 24, 2006 8:46 AM

I try to avoid jobs where there are people named Charlie. I had a bad Charlie experience myself! That is a story much to long for a comment, though.

Our "weird guy" is a fairly recent born-again Christian. He wears his ipod all day every day, walking around with the earpieces in. He's generally either listening to a sermon or to gospel music. And he's always on some sort of weird diet that requires him to eat several times a day. Unfortunately for the people that share a room with him, for a while his 10am meal included fish. Heated up in the microwave. In the same room as the rest of them.

Posted by: jaime at August 24, 2006 9:00 AM

I could be so lucky to work with Charlies. No, I work with the insane. My office is full of the crazy folk. The ones who talk to themselves, er wait, that's me.

No, the crazy folk who are just CRAZY. They never make any sense and start talking to you out of the blue about what ever.

I see crazy people and it scares the hell out of me!

Posted by: Red at August 24, 2006 9:01 AM

I'm surrounded by work idiots.

And I don't even work outside the home! KIDDING! (not about the work outside the home thing, about my family being idiots)

Posted by: candace at August 24, 2006 9:16 AM

You had to ask, didn't you?

Now I'm going to spend my entire day trying to escape them. The two women at my office -oh god- I can't go on.

The memories are coming fast and furious. Screaming into my brain. I may have a meltdown today.

GAH (shake it off. shake it off)

Posted by: s@bd at August 24, 2006 9:29 AM

OMG... There are way too many to list in a little comment. I work with a woman I'll call Linda (cause that's her name) who talks about her dog as if it were her child. She often will return from a "comfort stop" as she calls it to let me know that I "might want to wait before going to the bathroom". She also regularly informs me of the conditions of her "'roids". I have lots of other crazies that I work with, but Linda? I share an office with her.

It has gotten so bad, that when she talks most of the time, I don't even hear her... Oh, and one more thing... 62 year old women should not wear mini skirts. EVER.

Oh, and... nevermind... I'll stop here. I could go on all day...

Posted by: Karen at August 24, 2006 9:33 AM

Well, now I feel bad posting about my co-worker since he brought me a bagel this morning. But I'll do it anyway. ;)
There was the time he was talking about the music his daughter listens to and I asked what bands she liked. He said "You know, the MP3s" and couldn't understand why I was laughing hysterically.
And I won't even get into the lunch sniffing. Let's just say there's gonna be a smackdown over it one day.

Posted by: Traci at August 24, 2006 9:38 AM

Hmm... I spent several years in a big, merged office with a fair assortment of weirdos. There was the Staring Guy, who sold... something else, I tried not to pay attention, on the side. He'd come hang over the corner of my cube, trying to get me to do some work for him (I was *not* his office manager) and talking about how great his product line was, while he stared wildly.

At a B&B my roommate and I worked at in college, the owners used to freak out every Saturday. The rest of the week they were nicest, most patient people, so maybe they saved all their frustration up for Saturday. The day we heard one of them out in the garage, kicking cardboard boxes and cursing, we realized that we needed to just duck and get our jobs done as fast as we could and get out of there. Sundays? Happy and smiling.

Posted by: Kate the Shrew at August 24, 2006 10:25 AM

Oh that is so funny. The Forest Gump of sandwiches...

No wierd work buds here. One of the advantages of being a stay-at-home mom. :-)

But can I bitch about my neighbor? Oh wait you've heard that one...

Posted by: Lisa B at August 24, 2006 10:35 AM

Ahhh....Yes. I was volunteering with The Salvation Army, and I worked with a born again Christian who proselytized at any given opportunity. That alone wasn't the problem. We worked for a homeless outreach in Phoenix, so there was a lot of driving around to be done. Because he was also the boss, I guess he found it acceptable to force us all to listen to the Christian Music Station while belting out the words at the top of his lungs. That was pure torture.

Posted by: kim at August 24, 2006 10:35 AM

Let’s see… There was the woman who knew everything and thought she ran the company. She used to open all my outgoing mail and tell me I was doing everything wrong. And she would call and consult the guy who used to run the place – he got fired – instead of checking with our actual boss on things. This is only a fraction of a fraction of the things she used to do. I finally lost it and told her to never talk to me again. She started arguing with me and I said “Didn’t I tell you to never speak to me again?!”, and of course she kept on. So I got up and took off walking down the driveway, no purse, no keys, no destination. Just anywhere to get away from her. Geez, my blood boils just thinking of that woman.

There was the guy who used to flip his collar up every day like Elvis. And Mr. Green Jeans. The loud singer. The spiky pink haired lady. Then hugger. The guy who cleaned his fingernails with his pocket knife, then cut an orange with it and offered you some.

Then there was this guy…

Posted by: Melissa at August 24, 2006 10:43 AM

How about the guy a few offices away from me (ok so I'm in a cubicle) that chews gum as loud as humanly possibly and I can hear it from my desk. I once had a boss get mad at me for putting stamps on an envelope unaligned with the top of the envelope. Then there was a computer tech guy who screamed at me until I cried. There was a coworker who put his hand down my shirt (I should have sued damn it!) and tried to drag me into a closet.

Posted by: Pixie at August 24, 2006 11:37 AM

people... people who need people... are the luckiest people... sorry channeling some barbara there.

everyone has work freaks. right now? i dont! :lol:

*does the happy to be alive in Santa B. dance*

Posted by: melanie at August 24, 2006 12:19 PM

Hello, can of worms. Let's see. There was the boss who was a sexist, racist, bigoted jackass who I should've turned in for sexual harassment. There was the boss who hated college students and tried to fire us all. There was the boss who didn't speak to me for the length of my employment (two months) until she found out that I was leaving. I have a current situation that I have been fuming about for a few days involving a gossip. Like, I know things about people at work that THEY don't even know about themselves.

I feel like gnashing my teeth.

Posted by: Sparkle Pants at August 24, 2006 12:33 PM

Umm, yeah. We have that guy. First, he's a perve. And you can't have him walk in your office or within 20 feet of you and not feel like you are being scoped out. Yech! Also, I work at a university. He hits on the students. THE STUDENTS!! So beyond the pale wrong. He has brought his pet bird to work with him and I had to report that to HR because he would take it into the cafe, where we Eat, and once it flew behind the counter to the food prep area. I was so disgusted. I warn the women I have working for me about him. He's that bad. Shudder. Cringe.

Posted by: Hannah at August 24, 2006 12:37 PM

anyone who likes sandwiches cannot be all bad.

i once had a boss who thought she was a vampire. or pretended to think she was a vampire. thing is, she was one of the best bosses i ever had and i still see her from time to time. i think she's less of a vampire now.

Posted by: jodi at August 24, 2006 12:39 PM

Bruce. Rest his withered and dastardly soul.

He stunk. Seriously stunk. Oh, plus he was an arrogant bastard. We shared a cubicle (thank the gods it wasn't an office!) when we were junior CICS Sysprogs. He knew everything. Except he didn't. And he liked to laugh at the programmers' misfortunes. He was a malicious, smelly bastard.

Here's the kicker. This was in the very early 80s. He had a photograph of his wife on his side of our long desk. She was drop-dead beautiful. She eventually had the sense to leave him. (At this point I'd never met her.) A few jobs and some years later, she was my co-worker. I had a party. She brought her boyfriend. After another few years, she died. I'm married to the boyfriend now.

And the malicious smelly bastard is dead now too.

Life is weird.

Posted by: bhd at August 24, 2006 1:56 PM

Well, the freaks I "work" with are 8 and 10 and they call me "Mom" which I personally find really weird because no way am I a mom to such old children. I try to avoid them during the day but I turn around and "Bam!" there they are, making weird requests like for food and love and entertainment. I just go with it. They obviously need these things and it IS my "job". Heh heh. :)

Posted by: Kate at August 24, 2006 1:58 PM

When I was pregnant at work, everyone was a freak. No one would leave me alone. It would take me an hour to get to the washroom most times--no joke--because everyone wanted to talk to me. Plus, they'd say brutal things like, "you're read to pop"--when I was 5 MONTHS ALONG!!! Brutal. Love your story. Hilarious. What characters!

Posted by: haley-o at August 24, 2006 2:01 PM

llittle side note - my dad works for oracle! ;) anyway, we used to have a waitress at the restaraunt i work in who would talk non-stop. she would follow you around while she talked, while you did everything you needed to, sometimes even all the way out to your table. it was crazy. you would have to tell her to be quiet as you approached your table or she would continue talking and it was usually about very inappropriate things (like bodily funtions, sex or drugs.) she was a nutcase and no body was sad to see her leave.

Posted by: kristied at August 24, 2006 2:09 PM

Unfortunately, I am the work freak. I hate to admit it but I know it's true!

Posted by: Jeff A at August 24, 2006 2:24 PM

I think I work with Charlie's brother. This guy has the social charm of a stapler. And not the Swingline kind. Aside from the two hour long talks (where he talks at me) about internet cable splicing, he also likes fantasy computer games. Which he'll describe in minute to minute detail to me every friggin day.

Sometimes he really tries to be cool. He'll talk in detail about strippers, usually about how he "commands the club by picking out the head dominatrix first." I shit you not. That is exactly what he said. Just the thought of that fantasy life got him all sweaty so he had to keep pushing his glasses back up on his nose.


Posted by: Tink at August 24, 2006 3:38 PM

oy..what to tell...what to tell... Worked with a person who yelled at me when there no more 1st class seats on a plane - like I was his travel agent? Worked with someone who thought the painted lines on a floor were twisting her ankles. Worked with someone who flushed chicken bones down a toilet. (!!!!) There's more...but I need to stop now.

Posted by: Sue at August 24, 2006 3:59 PM

Given that I work in HR and my husband works in a restaurant, we can always come up with crazy co-worker stories.

My favorite example happened a few years ago when an employee complained to me (in writing) that he had been sexually harassed by being subjected to conversations during which his co-workers discussed the physical attributes of various women in the office. Then, he listed some of the names of the women. AND - mine was one of the names. Yep, he lodged a complaint with HR and in doing so essentially told me that the men in his department thought I had a nice rack. Gotta love it.

Posted by: bb at August 24, 2006 5:04 PM

I really don't think the weird will ever overpower me after my geek-college experience. People like Charlie? Are the majority of my fellow alums. But they're so sweet. It's so hard...

Posted by: alektra at August 24, 2006 5:09 PM

LOL!! you are hilarious.
Let me think... I'm surrounded by freaks here, but they hide it well. You can't really tell they're freaks until a couple of years have passed, and you've witnessed each and one of them freak out over the most stupid situations.
I guess they think I'm a freak too, for exactly the same reasons.

Posted by: Ava at August 24, 2006 5:42 PM

We have a guy here who is the IT guy. He pets his face if you ask him a question. Pets his own nose and chin. And he talks in circles, no one every understands him. But he is brilant and can do anything on the computer. When you need his help though, people fight over who has to be the one to find him. He eats all the leftover food in the fridge, no matter whose it is but probably weighs only 115. And he always drink black coffee out of the same cup, which he never washes. If you ask anyone how old they think he is, you'll get answers ranging from 35 - 60. ALthough rumor has it he is 35 and already completly grey. The only proof to this is that we met his wife and toddler at a holiday party last year. No clue how long they've been togeather, cause no one even knew he was married.

Posted by: Melissa at August 24, 2006 6:34 PM

I definitely think Charlie and his wife were made for each other. And yeah, whats the deal with people not knowing the whole invading on the "physical" personal space issue? God! Freaks at work! Something tells me this is just the start. BTW theres a hilarious update about the guy I'd mentioned.

Posted by: Dee at August 24, 2006 7:17 PM

every single person at my employment is a freak. I am the only exception. I think?

Posted by: cmhl at August 24, 2006 9:58 PM

I once worked with a guy who honestly could have played the role of the stapler dude in Office Space. Same hair, same voice, same lack of social skills.

It was ugly, but entertaining.

Posted by: Kristen at August 24, 2006 10:41 PM

I once worked with a guy who honestly could have played the role of the stapler dude in Office Space. Same hair, same voice, same lack of social skills.

It was ugly, but entertaining.

Posted by: Kristen at August 24, 2006 10:41 PM

I once worked with a lady who whistled at work. But she didn't whistle a tune...she whistled the SAME. NOTE. OVER. AND OVER. But in different lengths. so it was almost like she was whistling a tune...but one that only had one note. And then she would get out of key and whistle a slightly different note over. and over. and over.
I nearly lost my mind.

Posted by: SMIT at August 24, 2006 11:07 PM

Well, there's the arrogant SOB that used to be the senior on my tax season job at my old firm. The first day I was out on a job with him, the first question out of his mouth at lunch was, "So, what are your views on God?" I should have known then.

Posted by: Beth in StL at August 25, 2006 12:33 AM

All I got say is, my female boss, who I share an office with, has man hands. And I cannot divert my eyes from them now that they were pointed out to me.

Posted by: Jen at August 25, 2006 1:46 AM

Close talkers? Sandwich nuts? lololol Your annoying people are so comical. Mine just sucked!

Posted by: Izzy at August 25, 2006 3:24 AM

Don't get me started about work freaks! I'm the only normal one, and that's scary!

The room next to me is the head editor of a magazine we publish. He's not only VERY arrogant, he's also still deciding if he's in or out the closet. He's more girlie than me!

And the room next to him, sits a woman who excells in her Communication job. She's a great advisor. But she's also manic depressive and OCD, without meds or therapy. Usually she's in control, but sometimes she'll just EXPLODE. That's SCARY! It never happened in front of a customer yet. And that's the reason she still has her job. She also can't handle stress, so when she's busy she'll wave her arms up and down really quick. You'll exept she'll just take of and fly away. She's a nutjob.

I've got 12 other colleagues, but I'll stop here!

Posted by: Nadine at August 25, 2006 4:22 AM

Hmm, well, I may have a co-worker story that beats Charlie... I worked with a woman for 3 years who never showered. Or washed her clothes. Which was particularly a problem as she only owned 2 pairs of pants and 3 shirts. And she liked to go for 200 km bike rides before work, and show up unshowered in sweaty unwashed clothes. The smell was indescribable. Sort of fermented, horrendous body odour. I kid you not. I took to surreptiously slathering fragrance oil under my nose when she came into my office. I'll take Charlie the close-talker anyday over that woman.

Posted by: Carmen at August 25, 2006 2:14 PM

So many work freaks, so little time!

My favorite work freak is the guy I play in the orchestra with at the theater, who is 35 and still has all the gutter-mindedness of a 13-year-old on a sugar high. (And mind you, I'm really laughing just thinking about him-- he makes work interesting) He literally cannot stop himself from doing something really vulgar in public at least twice a show, usually into a microphone (which are almost always turned off when he does it... ALMOST always.) That's in between requests to see some boobies. (We work it theater-- they're everywhere)

And then there was the last show, where he gradually changed all the titles of the songs in his music from their regular titles, like "Forget About The Boy", to more fun versions like "Leave The Choirboys Alone, Padre" (this is the most family-friendly one of the bunch, the rest were truly sick), which would of course leave the substitute musicians that sat in for him in hysterics every time they turned a page.

I love my job.

Posted by: Sassy at August 27, 2006 12:51 AM