People Judge You by the Company You Keep

There is a mystery man at work. I know who he is. Everyone there does. That is not the mystery.

Last week I had a lot of things on my plate so there were several nights I stayed later than I usually do. No big thing. But over that extra hour or so a head would pop into my cube to see how I was doing. Normally silent or vacant never even looking over to me I found this behavior odd, especially on the second night. So I began to watch and take notice of him after that.

I come to work about 8:30, the last one there, or so I thought. He was the last one there, by about an hour and a half.

During the day I made an effort to walk by his cube and check in on him. He spent most of the day on the phone, which was normal. But when I looked in, I realized that it wasn’t the office phone, but his cell phone.

Later in the afternoon I was in the art department going over something when I noticed that he was getting out of his car. He looked around, checking to see if anyone was around, and walked back in the office.

When I asked the lady on my project about him she said “oh yeah, he walks around the building for hours on the cell phone. You never noticed that? He sits right by you.”

I did a double take - he was sleeping in his car, taking a nap in the middle of the afternoon, not working.

Later that night I was at my desk going over a plan or a script or something when his head popped over the top to see if I was still there.

Then I put it together – he doesn’t stay late when he comes in late, he ditches out after the last person here, which today was me, slowing down his plans. He made a few more cell phone calls that I listened to rather than put my headphones on, it was his wife, he was going to be late again tonight.

The next day freaked me out. He started to throw things in his cube and swear really loud. There were crashes and thuds between obscenities. I think he might have spilled coffee or soup on his lap. But the drama was way too much for our friendly neighborhood.

Look at me, throwing rocks, living in a glass house. But I do have to ask – why put in the hours, the extra effort, or pick up projects if I already have some? My morals? Is it a good work ethic?

I like to think I have been a pretty good person so far in life. It is a poor reflection on me that he is considered my peer or “part of my team.” That is something to think about as the big transition comes about and I consider looking at other companies.