This is about Bob, an older sales rep I work with who can’t stand to be quiet or alone for more than a few minutes. I know because my cubicle is next to his office. Silence and stillness are nonexistent – he’s either on his phone or flitting around the office from cube to cube. He’s a large man, so every time he stands up or sits down I hear his chair plunk and squeak. He zooms out of his office, chats with someone for a little bit, and zooms back in, slamming the door. Eye contact means you’re going to have a conversation for at least 10 minutes, and it doesn’t end there. He’ll be back frequently throughout the day to add on to the conversation (popular topics include bull semen, butter, beef, and the arts – he sells ads for some farm publications).
He’s capable of doing so much on his own but seems to have an obsessive need for frequent human contact – enough so that he refuses to complete tasks by himself. I think he often pretends like he doesn’t know how to do things even though he’s been here for 20-ish years. I swear, every half hour or so he calls someone into his office to help him with simple tasks, like on Friday for instance, when I showed him how to open a file from an email, save it as a different name on his desktop, and attach it in a new email. He always likes to appear so helpless that he has his helper victims sit in his chair and use his mouse and keyboard because he “doesn’t know where anything is on the computer.” Maybe. He’s always so grateful that he brings food for people as gifts. Recently I received two oranges and some cheese.
It’s hilarious, infuriating, and sad at the same time. It’s hard sitting next to him because I’m interrupted quite often during the day, even while wearing headphones. One day, as I pass by the coffee station he gets visibly excited, like “Oh my God, it’s a person! I must talk to this person, but about what?!” And then it’s, “Hey youngster, come over here for a second. I know you’re a real pro at all this technical stuff and I’m an old fart. Come over here and help me, I never use this old coffee machine.”
I see him using the coffee machine every damn day. Lies! So here’s how it went down, and where my ISTJ characteristics come into play:
Me: “Oh, you’re needing some assistance? Let’s begin with a question. What is your purpose?” He looks at me blankly, so I add, “What is it that you want?”
“Oh, I just want a cup of coffee.” He’s holding a dark roast coffee packet in his hand. Out of the corner of my eye, I see my coworker Sam walk by and give me an evil, knowing grin.
“Okay, so let’s look at the screen on this machine. You want coffee and there are four buttons: coffee, tea, chocolate, and cappuccino. Which button seems like the most logical choice?”
Bob looks stumped. “…Coffee?”
“That seems reasonable, Bob. Why don’t we try that and see what happens?”
He pushes the coffee button, and without a word, inserts his packet and follows the rest of the directions on the screen, no coaching needed.
In a few seconds he’s holding a cup of fresh, hot coffee in his hand, gazing at it in awe. “Well I’ll be darned, look at that! You’re such a pro!”
“Look at that! You hardly needed me. I’m proud of you, Bob,” I say. “Maybe next week with the proper training, you can upgrade to a cappuccino.”
“I know where to find you!” His eyes shine with delight and he tears off in search of the next possible human interaction.