take one woman with low self esteem, but quite good hair
add one moronic illness
stir in some medication which causes hair to fall out
mix it all up and this is what you get...

Friday, March 26, 2010

Delusion and collusion 

I had thought that I would never find a colleague as infuriating as this one. Apparently, I was quite wrong.

For the past few months, I have been sitting opposite a man who seems, on the surface, to be an interesting, intelligent and laid back sort of fellow. We all thought so. "Yeah, he's a nice, guy, D". Yeah. And I would stand by that now to some extent - he is interesting, intelligent and laid back.

But as an added "bonus", he has the most extraordinary superiority complex I have ever encountered. The way he talks about himself, one would imagine that he has reached the pinnacle of achievement in his life. Let's look at the facts, shall we? He is a test analyst for an insurance company. He lives alone and by his own admission, has no friends. Truly enviable, no?

He will argue with anything and everything, particularly things which really aren't worth arguing about. If you state a fact to him, his reply will always start with "But surely...". His opinions revolve around what he has gleaned from the One Show, Wikipedia or extrapolated from his own, limited experience of life. Once he has the bit in his mouth on a particular topic, he will not let go, even if the whole office provides evidence to disprove his ill thought out theory.

He has a particular bee in his bonnet about the fact that he didn't go to university, concluding that he is somehow better than those who did. Now, I couldn't give a toss if someone's been to university or not, and there are countless examples of people who do have a degree who are complete cretins and have made a mess of their life. I am very far from being a shining example of graduate success. But what cannot be denied is that if you have a degree, there are certain doors open to you which would not be open to you otherwise. Perhaps they are doors which have no interest to you, perhaps they are doors that you lack the confidence to open, but they are doors nonetheless. This is fact.

Instead of going to university, he will claim, he travelled. He worked in America, he worked in Dubai, he had valuable experiences which have made him who he is today. Well done, fair play to him. But going to university does not prevent someone from travelling and/or working abroad (for example) - in my case, it was part of my degree to do so. Many students take a year off before or after university to do so. Many graduates take a sabbatical part way through a degree to have such experiences. His argument does not hold water. I do not criticise anyone for not having a degree. Yet he will criticise and claim to be superior to those who do.

A particular example he has cited more than once is one of his teachers at school telling him he would never make anything of his life. "But look at me now, and look at him. I wonder how much he's earning..." he will spout, smugly.

I have a number of problems with this. I am looking at you now. You are a test analyst for an insurance company. He is a teacher. I know which profession I have more respect for. As for "how much he's earning", well I would consider that to be utterly irrelevant, but for the record, it's *probably* still more than you.

I almost look forward to going back to my old desk, behind him. Almost.

Luckily, I have an ally. A is, I think, my secret sister. We are both tall, loud, North Londoners who tell it like it is and won't suffer fools gladly. We are both mimics, we both sing if prompted by a phrase that happens to be in a song, we both laugh, we both overreact. Those who don't know us think we can be aggressive or intimidating. Those who do, know that despite our appearance we actually lack confidence and self-esteem.

The other day, A said something to D that made me realise that she felt the same way about him as I do. A hasty email followed by a satisfyingly cathartic bitching session.

Always good to know one is not alone.