Wednesday, June 14, 2006

The Old New Guy

The Old New Guy is cautious. He's been The New Guy too many times before. Always getting stuck doing the dirty jobs. Always volunteering because he wants to make friends, fit in, get along. Not anymore. Let them do their own dirty jobs, he tells himself. He defeats the New Guy expectations. They want me to smile, but I won't. They think I'll be nice but I'm not.

The Old New Guy settles into his desk and surveys his surroundings. Which one of these people is going to be trouble, he asks himself. Usually the first friend you make is the one person no one else likes. That's why that person's so friendly to the new guy. The new guy doesn't know the history, he doesn't know better. If you don't watch out, that first one will be coming around every day and wasting your time.

They expect you to make the coffee, he reminds himself, so he announces that he's kicked that little habit. There, that'll do. They expect you to bring in some doughnuts, so he lets it slip out that he's been on a diet these days. No obligations. No welcoming lunches. The Old New Guy's sorry but has other plans that day and the next.

It's not like the end of the world if you don't get along right away. Give it time. Let it sort itself out. The Old New Guy sits back and watches, he finds out who's who and what's what. He overhears snippets of gossip. He monitors the [social] group emails. He hears who's the loudest, who's most annoying. He prefers the people who don't always smile, who don't need to know who he is right away. In meetings he volunteers nothing.

He'll ask a few questions, especially the boss and the one guy who seems the most threatened. Put fears to rest. Seem interested. Involved. Keep the head down, do the work, do it well. And then, when the situation is ripe - he'll give it a week, maybe two - and when no one expects it at all, he decides how he wants to fit in; and he does, like a lion among deer, on the prowl.

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