We all experience awkward moments in life, but awkward situations become infinitely worse on your first day of work. While trying to make a good first impression
Humans are amazing creatures, we pulled ourselves out of food chain, became masters of our environment (by polluting it into submission, but that’s a different story for a different day) and created complex social systems which have very specific rules and more. Unfortunately, infringing on these norms and mores constitutes awkward social suicide, especially on the first day of work.
1. What Do I Bring
This is a dilemma that I’m sure billions of people go through every year. Am I being superfluous? Probably, but even before you show up on your first day of work the potential for awkward interactions stares you directly in the face, like a dog looking you in the eyes as it pees on your very expensive rug. Do you take a backpack, a briefcase or an over-the-shoulder laptop case to your first day of work? Harkening back to the days of elementary school, an inappropriate choice of “back”-ware can be disastrous. Allow me to illustrate. For example, if you take a briefcase and the company culture is laid-back and hipster-ish, where not only is it OK to look like a ratty college student, it’s actually encouraged (they give out free fedoras at reception), then you will be perpetually known as “briefcase dude/dudette” and most people will think you’re a complete stick in the mud.
Never mind the burning side-eye you’ll get from your hippie co-workers for being a “corporate shirt” (yes in my hypothetical world hipsters and hippies are interchangeable). Beyond that, you also have to choose the appropriate writing material. Are you going all out digital with a tablet or laptop, digital-analogue hybrid with a smart-pen and paper or full analogue that is an entirely different can of worms?
There is a solution though…before you go in on your first day find a secure location outside the building and hide a selection of options, from back-back to trapper-keeper (hey some offices have that nostalgia thing going on). Make sure the location is well hidden, though, so you don't alert the bomb squad (which will keep you from retrieving the appropriate piece of luggage)…no a sign that says “Not A Bomb” probably won’t help.
2. The Facilities
Nothing is more degrading on your first day than turning towards a co-worker and asking “I’m sorry where’s the restroom?” like a dumb tourist looking for a sh*tter on the streets of Dublin…why Dublin? I don’t know, probably because it sounds cool. We all use the restroom sure, but at that moment if you have trouble finding it, or spend more time in there than the normal “urinate-wash-hands” allotment then that co-worker is going to immediately assume you went number 2 on your first day of work.
And then when you interact with them again they’ll wonder if you washed your hands before you came back…if you’re really unlucky they might even imagine you with your pants around your ankles struggling in the stall (hey I warned about Creepy Perry…)there is nothing comfortable about a situation like this…
3. Incomplete Information
So, generally the aforementioned situation is null and void because your first day will be dedicated to giving you a tour around the office. Showing you where you can get coffee and void yourself of said coffee, where your desk is and which route to use during an evacuation in the case of an alien invasion…What can I say? You should’ve known; the company is called “Preemptive Exoplanetary Protection Agency” after all. So you know the most crucial things, the HR manager hands you off to your department head to start your training…but suddenly your manager gets slammed, answering emails, dealing with co-workers’ questions and making sure that when the website went down it wasn’t because of some shadowy government agency.
As he/she runs around the office frantically you sit there silently with nothing to do but wait, you look over to the cubicle next to you and smile nodding slightly your head only to be ignored by the busy co-worker. Finally eight hours pass, your boss is still running around like a chicken without a head, and you wonder “should I stay or should I go?” and start humming the song by the Clash…the manager walks by pauses, looks at you with disgust and says: “We have a category 4 UFO video sighting on Youtube and your humming Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap?!!” to which you respond “Actually it was Should I Stay Or Should I Go by the Clash” Awkward.
Another thing that will give you trauma induced flash-backs from elementary school: Lunch. If you’re lucky, they’ll be a predefined lunch break where everyone will gather in the break-room so it won’t be so obvious when you are sitting alone in a corner. Someone might even talk to you or ask you to sit with them! But, most offices nowadays prefer to leave it up to the employee when they’d like to go, leaving two choices either skip lunch, eat at your desk or go to the break room and eat alone.
Are there any other situations that might arise and make your first day really awkward? Let us know in the comment section below.