Mr. Coffee came by one afternoon and invited me to go to Deidrich’s at the children’s hospital. It was a ritual, once, if not twice a day. Sometimes he and his pals would even walk the three blocks to Starbucks. Not wanting to appear anti-social, I joined him and a few other guys.

We made non-geek small talk in hospital’s cafeteria while sipping iced mochas. He mentioned his three daughters, and his long drive from South Pasadena, which didn’t seem to bother him. I figured the guy was on the road three hours a day. But he had been at the company for years, so it probably didn’t bother him. Nice guy, I thought. Articulate, congenial. Very friendly. But clearly a Yes-Man, definitely Mr. Whiteboard’s Yes-Man. Their daughters played basketball together in some Chinese girls youth league. For that fact, he was pretty much untouchable.

I never had my own Yes-Man, and didn’t now if I could put up with such an ingratiating type. Always so agreeable, these guys, never a harsh word. They flourished in companies large and small, and their were plenty in IT.

But they usually couldn’t code.

The rigors of software development require an ability for technical give and take that Yes-Men were ill suited for. So non-confrontational were they that the mere idea of having to defend their code or criticize someone else’s hack was alien to them. It was all about back-slapping, mocha-sipping, and collegiality. Those values weren’t much help when you were tracking down some nasty bug at 11 PM the night before a site was to go live. They were never around.

“Are you bowling tonight?” he asked.

It was another of the many, almost daily, “events” that the company’s glee club was constantly sponsoring. Pot-Lucks, ice-cream socials, fund-raisers. I had signed up for Bowling Night in the hopes of getting to know some of the guys.

“Oh, yeah. Sure.” I faked enthusiasm.

A few hours later, I was fighting traffic, stumbling through a nasty neighborhood in Anaheim filled with Arab markets and pawn shops. I found the 50’s-era bowling alley just as play was starting.

I saw Mr. Coffee, the TAC, and Charlie. My team. Yeah, I’m all for this…maybe.

I was broke and bumbed a twenty off of Mr. Coffee to get a beer. I drank quickly as I waited my turn to bowl. The company had taken half the lanes over, with some of the teams wearing team shirts. I took a look around…I was the only white guy. Period. Oh, there were some hefty white ladies, but no white guys. I felt old, and out of place. I went to get another beer after throwing a couple of balls in the gutter.

Charlie was quite the bowler, at least he had his own shoes and ball, and looked like he’d spent some time in the lanes. I tried to make nice, high-fiving him when he got strikes, asking about where he usually bowled (some place on Brookhurst), talking utter gibberish. I felt like the idiot manager from The Office (not the NBC version, but the BBC one with - Ricky Gervais ). I didn’t like him and he didn’t like me.

Twenty frames and three beers later, I was checking my watch. God, this sucks, I thought. These guys are just dweebs, I can barely understand them, and we had nothing in common. Nada. Nill. Zero.

Some Asian guy from Operations was getting shitfaced on shots a few lanes down and making a bunch of noise, but nobody else was drinking, except the fat white ladies from HR. I find it hard to dislike someone you can have a few drinks with, and I was having fun with those girls. But since my “team” didn’t drink at all, there was to be no bonding with them tonight.

Now, I had heard that many Asians had a some kind of enzyme deficiency that made it difficult for them to metabolize alcohol, but this was fucking ridiculous. Have a beer, for Christ’s sake, you Pho-eating geeks!

God, they were boring. The TAC muttered all night, Mr. Coffee was uh, nice, and Charlie was his usual asshole self. Even my patronizing compliments about his bowling didn’t have any affect on his surly demeanor. Burning Man probably knew better than to show up, and I could see why. His purple haired skinny hippy white ass would be really out of place. But he probably didn’t even drink, because I don’t think you can derive alcohol from pure soy, which is all he consumed. Pussy.

That’s the problem with these company sponsored events, sometimes they just highlight the differences you have with coworkers, and you start realize you want nothing to do with these people after working hours. It was like bowling with the people at the DMV.

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