For anyone who’s ever seen Trekkies – a charming documentary about obsessive Star Trek fans – you may have found the Commander to be memorable.  

The Commander aka Barbara Adams, is a perfect example of a workplace freak – a real woman working in a modest job in a print shop who just so happens to wear her Star Trek uniform and various Trek accouterments to work each day.  Oh, and she insists that everyone address her as “Commander” in deference to her Starfleet rank. 

Uh, yeah.  The Commander is a F-R-E-A-K, freak. But even more than that, she manages to cross over from being merely odd into downright entertaining.  I am fascinated with this woman.  What makes her so “into” Star Trek that she literally lives it? I mean, I enjoy the shows and movies (I can even say “Beam me up!” in Klingon), but I’ve never felt a desire to don a uniform and attend Starfleet Academy.

Dick and I have had many conversations about the wacky things that people get hung up on.  He thinks people with very specific fetishes – say women’s shoes, for instance – are fascinating.  Most of us tend to have a few quirks, but usually nothing remarkable, and certainly nothing that would meld personal life to work life in one seamless narrative of weirdness. 

Sadly, most of the nuts I’ve encountered in the workplace are garden-variety freaks who can usually be slotted into the following mundane categories:

The Hypochondriac:If they aren’t sick, there’s probably something dreadfully wrong with them. In general, beware of coworkers wearing neck braces, sporting wrist splints, or sitting in office chairs that look like they’ve been torn straight from the deck of the starship Enterprise.  Warning: these people can be hard to spot due to their tendency towards chronic absence.

The TMI-talker:  This is the person who always gives you gross, overly personal details about themselves and their loved ones.  These are the people that tell you all about the 22lb mass removed from their armpit, later found to be an undeveloped twin, which got a write-up in JAMA. 
The Lifer (aka The Know-it-all or The Melvin):  This is the coworker who has been there since the dawn of time.  Typically this individual is crotchety, touchy, and/or two-faced.  He or she claims to know everything and everyone, frequently representing themselves as the backbone of the organization. Often these workers are managed into low-profile administrative roles where they attack such mundane tasks as scheduling potluck luncheons with the gusto Mike Tyson reserves for the vulnerable ears of his boxing opponents.

So how does one avoid falling into these common workplace freak categories and work their way into ”Commander” territory?  How can I “get my freak on”?  I think I’ve figured it out… 

People like the Commander rise above the norm by skillfully integrating multiple indiosyncracies into their character -transcending the pedestrian trappings of the ordinary freak to achieve full-on wacko status.  Most of us compartmentalize our quirks or at least supress them in the workplace, whereas people like the Commander display them proudly.  You have to admit, being your full-on freaky self is a bold move which takes a great deal of creativity and passion to pull off successfully. 

Take a former work colleague of mine, Deirdre, for instance.  Deirdre managed to embody many traditional workplace freak attributes, but gave them all her own unique spin.  I’m sure you’ll agree that she was bold, creative, and most definitely passionate. 

  • At 4ft 9 in, Deirdre was proud of informing me that she was, technically, not a dwarf, although she had little arms so I’m suspicious. She was short enough that she needed to use a tiny stool to reach high things around the office – like her chair.
  • At the time we worked together Deirdre was 43, with a 29-year old son (do the math…), and on her 4th husband, who was also 29.  Her husband, Jerry (Jer) was a part-time softball coach at the local middle school and a professed nudist. Getting him to don a Speedo in the car was deemed a huge accomplishment by Deirdre. 
  • As my direct supervisor, Deirdre felt the best way to endear me to her was to treat me like a girlfriend.  Ugh.  And, like with most girlfriends, this meant revealing all the vulgar details of her sex life. This meant I was given unique insights into her relationship with Jer, including the fact that she and Jer were unable to go for more than a few hours without “making love”.  In retrospect, I guess this explains Jer’s part-time job.  Anyway, Deirdre was fond of telling me about her and Jer’s intense physical and spiritual connection, replete with details of their hours spent intwined in a drug-like post-coital bliss, as they laughed and cried over the miracle of their love. 
  • Because of her over-the-top sex drive, Deirdre indulged in daily lunchtime trysts with Jer, usually in the office parking lot in the back seat of her Nissan.  At first I thought she was kidding about the parking lot sex, but Deirdre’s regular 12pm departure followed by a return to the office with bed head, mussed clothing, and flushed cheeks, soon indicated otherwise.  And, as if it wasn’t bad enough that she was having a much better lunch than I was, she also felt it necessary to provide me with detailed descriptions, including positions and a run down of who did what to whom.  To add further insult, her sexcapades would always leave her a bit peckish so most lunches would drift into 90-minutes during which time 45 minutes were provided for boinking Jerry, 15 minutes were for forcing all the dirty details on me and an additional 30 minutes were allotted for grabbing a turkey sandwich and a Diet Coke from the vending machine in the lunch room.  Gallingly, Deirdre would record a 45 minute lunch on her timesheet and then leave 15 minutes early each day since (according to her account) she didn’t have time to take her full hour lunch.
  • During the 18-months we worked together, Deirdre was out sick no less than 9 months of that time.  She was constantly being treated for sudden and mysterious illnesses such as hernias, heart palpitations, carpal tunnel syndrome, back spasms, asthma, uterine cysts, rashes, boils – you get the idea.  She was like a walking Biblical plague. 
  • Deirdre and Jer were really into The Lion King. Unlike your standard fan who can only claim to watch the film once or twice a week, Deirdre and Jer watched the film nightly, holding each other and crying at all the sad, sweet parts.  Some nights they rewound the film and watched it again.  Their pet names for each other were ”Simba” and “Nala”.  On some evenings, when presumably sex and Lion King viewing had grown tiresome, Simba would read to Nala – in character.  After reading together they’d climb into their twin beds (pushed together, naturally) and cozy up in their matching Lion King sheets.  Yes; Lion King sheets. 

Now, you have to admit – a near-dwarf, nympho, hypochondriac, Lion King fanatic is pretty freaky. With folks like Deirdre and The Commander out there, maybe the world doesn’t need me to get my freak on as much as it needs me to point them out to rest of us.  Consider yourself warned.

Spread the Love:
  • Digg
  • Facebook
  • TwitThis