There is a person at my workplace whom I refer to as “The Goat Man” due to his collection of myotonic—aka “fainting” goats. While I’m no expert on the topic of fainting goats, I’d imagine they appeal to two types of people—those who are freaking hilarious and those who are painfully awkward.
The Goat Man falls into the latter category.
He and I have a complicated history that began three years ago when I was at the bottom of the food chain and he was the boss of the boss of my boss. One year later I was vastly promoted and now plague him as his equal. We both sit on the executive leadershp team, but that’s where the similarities end. The Goat Man rules his department with an iron fist, a 5’2 frame and is infamous for his “three stack firing process.” One day you’re going about your business, and the next you’re sitting at his desk and he’s telling you to choose from three stacks of paper.
Stack One – You’re quietly resigning.
Stack Two – You can keep working here but you’re being demoted and I will tell everyone you had a nervous breakdown and are a sexual deviant.
Stack Three – You’re fired, and I will tell everyone you had a nervous breakdown and are a sexual deviant.
Internal Affairs didn’t exactly appreciate this approach and launched three separate investigations, all of which were ultimately fruitless. We kept waiting for him to get the axe, but he was too damn litigious and in our heart of hearts we all knew it was too risky to mess with a man who has a fainting-goat farm.
About six months ago, The Goat Man did something I would never have believed possible: He became even more awkward.
Awkward Incident #1: The Nomination
At the hospital, we have a monthly award that’s given to someone who’s “gone above and beyond.” It’s meant to boost morale in this toxic wasteland and for some ungodly reason it’s become my responsibility to oversee this process.
So here I am, sitting at my desk, flipping through nomination cards when I see one for The Goat Man. I would have thought “aw, that’s nice for him” but in addition to keeping a mental catalogue of faces like a social savant I also recognize the nuance and pattern of individual handwriting.
That sly bastard had nominated himself—for an award that should go to someone who makes $200k less than him.
“Mr. Goat Man has really made things better—the hospital has needed someone like him for a long time! He knows how to clean up a system and make things run more smoothly. He deserves more appreciation for how valuable he is.”
Being the bigger person that I am, I made this nomination disappear—but not before I made a copy and tucked it into The File of Awkward.
Awkward Incident #2: The Breakdown
Somewhere around the time that The Goat Man decided to change his iPhone background to a blood spattered image that said “KEEP CALM AND KILL EVERYONE” he also decided to to cut off the long ponytail that’d been trailing down his back for the last decade. That same day, he shut his door and didn’t come out for 8 hours. The next day… he didn’t bother coming back. We peered in through the window and saw that he’d emptied his office of all personal belongings—everything from artwork to family photos and his coffee pot. There was a minor celebration throughout the building.
“Maybe he got the hint, and quit!”
But no. He had to dash our hopes by showing up the next day and hiding in his office once again. This time he hung up a huge poster of a Dalmation over the window so we couldn’t see what he was doing. But when he left, I caught a glimpse.
While the rest of us were busy changing lives and saving the world, he’d been busy plastering a twelve-foot SpongeBob Square Pants mural across the walls of his office.
Awkward Incident #3: The Witch Hunt
The ultimate culmination in this trifecta of awkward happened just yesterday—I’d gone down the hall to make some copies when I noticed a neglected piece of paper lying alone in the bottom tray. Ever the snoop, I checked to make sure no one was around before lifting up a corner and taking a peak.
I’d struck gold.
On that sheet of paper was a detailed diagram of all the complaints and investigations that’d been leveled against The Goat Man since 2011. It was titled “Internal Affairs Witch Hunt Timeline.”
I immediately dropped the paper back in place and fled to my office before he had the chance to catch me reading it—but then… I realized how badly I needed this for my File of Awkward.
Spying to see that the hallway was clear, I darted back to the copier. I didn’t trust it not to take 10 minutes to warm up so I snapped a photo of the timeline with my iPhone. When I made it back to my office, I whipped it out to take a look at my new trophy.
But it was blurry.
I had to have it. The Goat Man was still in his office—probably googling “how to make a bomb”—so I snuck back for a third time, took my chances, and was rewarded with my very own photocopy.
Back at my desk, I slipped it into the File of Awkward and relaxed in sweet satisfaction. But my enjoyment was short-lived because The Goat Man had still not come out of his office to retrieve his awkward little document.
What if someone else found it? What if it was someone who lacked a taste for quiet pleasures like keeping a File of Awkward? What if that someone also decided to photocopy the timeline but made enough to share with the whole building?
I couldn’t let that happen to The Goat Man, even if he was planning to make a skin suit out of me.
For the fourth time, I snuck my way to the printer, grabbed the timeline, and shoved it into an unmarked manilla envelope. Trying my best to act casual, I tiptoed to his office, slid it beneath the door, then made a mad dash for my desk so I could tell everyone on Facebook what I’d just done.
All was silent across the hall.
Half an hour later, The Goat Man finally emerged from his pineapple under the sea and whistled as he walked the halls. I’d never heard him do this and could only assume it was his own way of acting casual. That evening, as we gathered our things to go, we made eye contact for a brief moment—I tried to channel my usual gaze of indolence but his eyes were full of curiosity.
“Was it you?”
I couldn’t answer this question, even if it meant getting my name crossed off the list of people he’s planning to kill. It was just too awkward.
Have you ever found something awkward that a coworker left lying around? What sorts of personal details have you regrettably learned about the people you work with? Are any of your coworkers as odd as The Goat Man?
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