Day 127: Office gossip day.Posted: May 7, 2011
The Book wants me to start a rumor at the office – which, in my case, is a university English department.
This is a very, very bad idea.
Office gossip is bad enough at a regular office, where people leave their work behind them and go home to their normal lives. Academics don’t have other lives, though, and so the gossip is serious business.
Academic departments are festering cesspools of gossip and rumor-mongering and petty vindictiveness. Introducing a rumor into the wild of the department would be like stomping a fire-ant mound with your shoes tied together, or like pissing on a honey badger that you’re locked in a small room with, or like throwing raw bacon at the patrons of a vegan restaurant. That is: it would be stupid.
Feelings don’t just get hurt, they get trampled. Relationships get destroyed, grudges get held for decades, office doorknobs get greased, cars get set on fire. Violence and bloodshed break out, like in Romeo and Juliet or Full Metal Jacket or Fargo. Snarky emails get sent – accidentally – to the whole department.
People spend their office hours sobbing quietly, or drinking heavily, or both.
This all happens of its own accord, too – there’s no reason for me to stir up any more trouble, especially when it’s likely to come back and bite me in the ass. I try to keep a low profile, and this sort of thing is against my “don’t draw attention to yourself” policy.
All of which is to say: if I’m going to start a rumor at work, I’m not going to talk about it on a blog some of my colleagues read. I’m stupid, but I’m not that stupid.