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January 19, 2006


The company where I work is currently adding tons of contractors (literally), of which I am one. Other than the fact that most of us are men between the ages of 30 and 55, we get a wide range of backgrounds and personalities and a much narrower range of nationalities. Most of us sit down and work quietly.

But there always has to be a showoff. He showed up 2 weeks ago and sits in the next row of cubicles. I don't know his name. I may have seen him once, so I might know what he looks like. But I do know that he's an expert in everything. I know this because he spends 70 to 80% of his workday talking and sharing his vast knowledge with everyone around. Yesterday he even shushed one of his teammates so that he could answer a question instead of her. It seems like all day long I hear him talking, but it's rarely related to work.

I know better than to pay attention to blowhards (and the other contractors in his row are quickly learning that too), but sometimes he's pretty comical. After meeting one of his teammates and learning that he was from Russia, he talked about his (apparently undemonstrable) knowledge of the Russian language. Ah, a language expert. Interesting.

Shortly afterward Showoff talked about his previous job, where he worked at as a contractor at a Japanese company here in the U.S.
"Did you learn some Japanese?" asked one of his coworkers.
"Oh, definitely." Hmmm.
Next morning I arrived early, and so did Coworker. It was very quiet in the office, and I heard it all. Showoff arrived. He needed to demonstrate his knowledge of Japanese, so he stepped into Coworker's office and said, "DOH-moh ah-ree-GAH-toh [I thought, Mr. Roboto?] Adam-san."
"What does that mean?" asked Coworker.
"It's 'Good morning' in Japanese," said Showoff.
Yikes. Spoken like someone who learned all his Japanese from Styx songs.
Fortunately for us all, that was his only attempt at speaking the language.
(For those who don't speak Japanese: Showoff's pronunciation and interpretation were both incorrect. "Domo arigato" is not typically pronounced as in the song, and it doesn't mean "Good morning"--it's a form of "thank you" instead.)

Permalink | Posted by Joe at January 19, 2006 02:48 PM


i'm quite surprised you didn't confront him and say "For what?" when he uttered his "good morning".

Posted by: raize at February 16, 2006 10:54 AM

At first I couldn't believe what I was hearing: it was pretty early in the morning (for me) and it just didn't make sense. It was a few seconds afterward that I realized what he'd done.

But as tempting as it is to take the shots at showoffs, I've learned that it's more satisfying to wait for much better opportunities to put them in their respective places.

For what it's worth, Showoff has burned out. Everyone has learned that he's a blowhard and he no longer draws an audience. Instead, he sits quietly and does his work. The world is a much better place now.

Posted by: Joe at February 16, 2006 11:41 AM

So basically you missed your "better opportunity" :P

Glad to hear it's worked itself out anyway.

Posted by: raize at February 17, 2006 08:48 AM

Well, that's about the long and short of it.

Now the ideal would have been to put him in his place by actually having him present while speaking Japanese to a Japanese coworker. But here in central Michigan USA, I have no Japanese coworkers...but that's a topic for another posting.

Posted by: Joe at February 17, 2006 09:59 AM

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