Sunday, June 2, 2013

How a Clerk Copes, Your Guide, Part 2

I started a series about clerk coping mechanisms way back when. It feels like about, oh, 2 years ago, if I had to guess, but was actually just a little over a month ago, which just goes to show that "blog time" is nearly as  strange as "clerk time". Actually, I'm pretty sure that the issue is that time itself is deranged, prone to practical jokes that are rarely funny, is needy, and with the tendency common in those with profound self esteem issues only responds well to those that ignore and disdain it. Yet time cleverly hides all of that behind a carefully crafted illusion of evenness and dispassion. I fall for it over and over, like I do weather forecasts or enthusiastic praising quotes on the back covers of books.

Anyway, where were we? I was really just telling you that I have another in the Clerk Coping Mechanism series. Perhaps you don't remember that series because there was only one and it was so long ago? Here is for refreshing your memory if you like. But briefly, it has to do with how in the psychologically stormy world of clerking a clerk must develop various traits and methods and abilities that help protect them from the crashes of thunder, sudden bolts of lightning that incinerate their co-workers, and drenching steady rains that fall, metaphorically, for weeks on end in the workplace, flooding everything knee deep and causing hideous blooms of fungi to fuzz over nearly every surface as the deep gloom of despair pervades the traumatized staff.

Did I get carried away again? 

It is my way.

Today's coping mechanism is... Extreme Pleasantness.

No, this is not fake extreme pleasantness, which, it strikes me, will be a very fun coping mechanism to write about sometime in the future. No, this is the real deal. The person employing this mechanism has a way to discuss any topic with interest, laughs easily, listens to others, and glides through problems lightly. This person can complain with you if absolutely necessary (though probably with a lightening touch) and is not oblivious to the reality around them, but, even if you're feeling cranky or aggrieved, somehow you will more likely find yourself discussing vacations, or food, or movies with them happily instead. There is something bright and sunny about this person, but naturally so, and in a freely including way. How is this a coping mechanism and not just personality, you might ask, or, er, I would like you to ask, so I can say the next part I wanted to say, but make it like I'm just innocently answering a question? Well, I'll tell you, since you asked.

Roughly half of this person's work time is spent pleasantly chatting. That's quite a lot. Especially when one considers that virtually no one ever faults this person. While it is possible for this person to fall afoul of a manager, their ratio of "not working" to antagonizing anyone is as close to perfect as most clerks can get. Indeed, it somehow rarely even occurs to anyone that this person is not working a lot of the time. Each conversation is read as a one off and these are rarely added together because this person makes each one seem so natural, so part of the flow of working, of moving from one place to another. This person is never avoiding work, merely being naturally sociable and friendly. This person, at least deep down, knows that the 20 hour work week is right and true, and has found a way to make that balance with the sad, real world reality of a 40 hour work week. They do it by being extremely pleasant.

And they are indeed extremely pleasant. And they are clever too, in an extremely pleasant way. This is a great coping mechanism, but hard to pull off. It's not for me. Mostly I'm just really happy if there are one or two people around working this angle. It's always good for the place.

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