Dateland: When Babies Attack
My office is currently under attack! A monster is roaming the halls, drooling on things, demanding attention, and thinking of no one’s needs but its own.
The monster is being carried around by an alien life form. This alien closely resembles a woman who was once my colleague. This woman disappeared a couple months ago. Now, here she is, smelling vaguely of sour milk and communicating in a foreign tongue to the monster in her arms.
The monster grunts, screams, and gestures wildly. The alien, who is obviously the monster’s slave, attempts to placate the monster, quickly fetching whatever the monster demands: a computer mouse, an office keycard, a breast.
Mostly, though, what the monster wants is an audience.
So, as soon as it appears in my department, we are all required to abandon our work and gather around its plump, unbaked cookie-like form. We spend at least a half hour fawning and marveling at its ability to perform rudimentary tasks that you mastered many, many years ago.
The monster stares at its supplicants in an oddly unfocused fashion, until it firmly locks into a target. Once the monster’s bouncing, dilated pupils settle into a deathly stare and laser into you, there will be a 10-second period in which you are expected to audition for its favor. You must humiliate yourself in your own workplace to please the monster. You contort your face, make noises that resemble bodily functions, and try to speak the monster’s language. The monster will seriously consider your efforts and will then issue its judgment.
The best you can hope for is a smile. If this happens, you can breath a sigh of relief and retreat back to your office in triumph. If, however, the monster breaks out in hysterical tears and buries its face into its slave’s bosom, you will be dealt with a career-withering blow.
“The monster does not like her,” your co-workers will say, shaking their heads at your once promising future at the organization. You will then be forced to remain in the monster’s audience, witnessing others succeed where you failed.
When the monster has finally finished its path of destruction, you will quietly log onto your computer and begin a job hunt, and the monster will go home for a nap.
At the risk of nominating myself for the position of Worst Person in the World, I’m going to make a bold statement: I don’t like babies in the workplace!
It’s not that I don’t like babies. While I admit that I prefer toddlers, children, and even teenagers to infants, I’ve got no real beef with babies. They are just fine, as long as their interests don’t conflict with mine.
I have no issue with them when they are at home, ruling from their highchair/thrones, babbling nonsensically and draining their parents’ collective life force. This is their kingdom! And I respect their authority.
But, I’ve got a problem with them in the office. I’m the only one allowed to throw temper tantrums here, and I don’t like to be upstaged by an adorable ingénue.
I find the pressure to compliment a coworker’s baby particularly vexing. You can’t just pet it and say, “Nice baby.” You have to offer a credible assessment of its extraordinariness. But, honestly, what have these creatures achieved other than an impressively harrowing journey through their mother’s birth canal?
So, when I start hearing the terrifying warning sounds of ooh-ing and aah-ing from nearby offices, I close my office door and hunker beneath my desk/bunker. I curl up in a fetal position and nervously nibble on my thumb, waiting for the terrible beast to pass.