February 2, 2011

Drama, Drama, Drama

Yep, one of my favorite movies sums it up nicely... but while a romantic comedy without some drama is typically a snoozefest, I much prefer my real life sans theatrics. Most of my friends in high school seemed to thrive on a steady diet of gossip and extreme emotion, but in hindsight I've realized that this was (one of) the reasons I didn't really love those four years. By this point in my life, though, I figured I'd finally gotten past this and could settle down into a relatively drama-free existence. Apparently this is not the case....
I will be the very first to admit, I'm no expert on workplace etiquette or the unwritten code of cubicles. I've never truly worked a "real" job before this one (except for a few months as an intern at a law firm), and with less than three months under my belt, I'm still learning the lay of the land here. Even a rookie like me, though, knows that a few behaviors just don't belong in a generally happy, productive office, and scoring high on this list is crying.
Ok for babies. Not ok on the job.
Before I start, I have to be totally honest. A few weeks ago when my mom called me in the middle of the workday to tell me that my grandmother would not be with us much longer, I cried at work. I held it together for a long time, but by the time I walked into my dad's office to tell him what was going on, I kind of lost it. [Yes, my father and I work for the same company. Yes, he is technically, several several layers up the management ladder, my boss. No, I didn't get the job because of him. No, I don't get special treatment -- if anything, he prefers the tough love approach. No, I have never taken advantage of the connection. Yes, I love seeing him every day, but we are both professionals and remain as such throughout the workday, always, no exceptions.] I hated the fact that I cried at work and felt guilty about it for a while, even though the only two people who witnessed this (my dad and my immediate boss) were incredibly sweet and understanding about it. I've always believed that crying is a very natural and, in the right context, good for you. I certainly do my fair share, but in the privacy of my own home and with the company of only my pillow (or Dan, if he's really lucky). I do not think that crying at work, except in rare circumstances (like mine, I hope), is appropriate.
My coworkers, however, do not seem to subscribe to this philosophy. Actually, to be fair, just one of my coworkers doesn't. In the past few months, I have heard her crying several times at her desk. I hope this doesn't sound overly harsh -- I know that we all go through rocky patches and that life can be a sneaky you-know-what sometimes. I do know enough about this colleague to know that nothing incredibly tragic has happened: she has not lost her home, or her husband, her kids are healthy and happy, and no one has run over her puppy. Yet the crying continues....
The most recent incident was particularly dramatic: another coworker asked her a question and, without getting into too much detail, the two got into a small argument and the crier... well, she cried. Again. For the second time this week. Later that day, when our boss spoke to us about the issue and tried to clarify the business procedure (the cause of their little tiff), she cried again. While I know that the situation wasn't exactly enjoyable for her, the sniffles made her look unprofessional and made the rest of us extremely uncomfortable. Now, as hard as it is to respect this coworker, it is even harder to approach her about anything -- I certainly don't want to be the cause of her next breakdown!
What do you guys think? Am I expecting too much to hope for a tear-free workplace? Or is this kind of thing normal? Am I being too insensitive? Should I pack up and go work for this lady:
who revealed on The Hills (guilty pleasure, shhhh) that she doesn't allow crying in her office?


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