Sometimes You Win the Co-Worker Lottery


The average person spends most of their waking hours in the company of their co-workers. You meet some lifelong friends, some fairly decent people and some people who you would rather not see again. Working with people who primarily fall in the first 2 categories amounts to winning the co-worker lottery. Sometimes you also have the fortune of working with oddballs. The graphic designer who writes an Oscar acceptance speech when his ad is selected by a client. The Indian guy who constantly uses Hindi words when talking to colleagues who do not speak a word of the language. The random guy who insists his computer sends out emails on its own. These are the people I presently work with. As much as they make me laugh, they will of course never compare to my former colleague, Hassan.

Not that Hassan made me laugh. He made my friends laugh when I narrated stories about him, but me not so much. Possibly because I was his manager and had to listen to complaints from the rest of the office about his mannerisms, ranging from whispering people’s names repeatedly to random laughter during training sessions. Hassan was a traditional Arab male in some aspects, including not shaking hands with women. While I was secretly relieved about this, my own manager regarded this as a source of displeasure because Hassan insisted on shaking his hand every single morning, even if this meant interrupting meetings.

Luckily for my boss, Hassan did not generally stay for his meetings. I was not as fortunate. While I’ve managed to block out most memories of him, one will never escape me. My co-worker Daniel asked another co-worker, Ken and myself to join him in the conference room to discuss a project. A few minutes later the 3 of us were seated in the conference room discussing Daniel’s project. Out of the corner of my eye I noticed Hassan peering in through the glass door but paid him no attention. Then he opened the door, walked in and sat down next to me. After about 10 seconds Hassan finally noticed the puzzled looks all 3 of us were giving him.

Hassan: Oh, is this a private meeting?
Me: Uhh… it just involves the 3 of us
Hassan: I came for cake
Me: I don’t think there’s any cake here

As Hassan left, Daniel and Ken turned to me for an explanation. The best I could do was say it was not the first time Hassan had randomly included himself in a meeting. Sometimes I think I have better odds of winning the real lottery.