I’ve been that fly before.

There’s this dude at work—let’s call him Daryl—who loves to talk. Nice enough guy, but if you don’t time your interactions with him carefully, you’re liable to end up stuck in a one-sided conversation for the next 15 or so minutes.

Daryl sits on the other side of the TobacCo building, where the developers and designers and other techy folk amass, so I rarely see him. (Well, I rarely see anybody, being as I only go into the office two days a week. But I digress.)

The point is, our paths hardly ever cross, except for a one-hour window from 11:30 to 12:30 on Mondays and Wednesdays, when I’m at my desk and he sets up shop in the break room to eat his lunch (but mostly to strike up conversations with unsuspecting coworkers who wander into his trap and end up caught like a fly in a spiderweb).

I’ve been that fly before. More than once. Nowadays, I am very strategic about venturing into the break room during those 60 minutes. Which is kind of a pain in the ass, as they happen to fall smack dab in the middle of lunch hour. That requires a trip to the fridge and/or microwave, both immediately adjacent to where Daryl sits. This gives me three choices:

  • Eat early
  • Eat late
  • Wait for a diversion

I usually select option 3, since I’m apparently conditioned to be hungry at noon on the dot, even when I’ve eaten a late breakfast. It’s like waking up automatically at 5 a.m. on a weekend morning after staying up late the night before and not having to get out of bed. Annoying.

As magic hour approaches, I pause Spotify, remove my noise-cancelling headphones, and keep an ear out. Inevitably, some poor fly coworker will walk into the lunchroom and be accosted by Daryl. Suddenly he’s discussing trouble in the Sudan or Biden’s re-election prospects or the inroads AI is making in corporate America or the Aaron Rodgers trade to the Jets. You name it, I’ve heard it all. Abortion rights. Recreational marijuana. Why a movie like Top Gun: Maverick should win Best Picture but never will.

That’s when I pounce.

Taking advantage of the opportunity, I stride into the break room with purpose. I keep my head down, maybe flash a quick smile in Daryl’s general direction, but make a beeline for the refrigerator, never pausing. I grab my lunch and return to my desk, studiously avoiding any sort of eye contact because Daryl interprets that as interest in the conversation and will quickly reel you in.

Again, I’ve been that fly.

On the rare occasion when I bring in something that needs to be microwaved, I limit my selection to meals that can be heated in three minutes or less and wait until the coast is clear. Any longer and I tense up, because Daryl might walk in to throw something in the trash or pour himself a cup of coffee or grab Post-It Notes from the supply closet, which is inexplicably located in the break room. I’d rather not take that chance.

I realize this all makes me sound like some kind of social recluse, and while that may be true to a certain extent, I’m more than happy to exchange pleasantries with any other employee at TobacCo. Because they’re just that: pleasantries. Did you do anything fun this weekend, how’s the house coming along, crazy weather we’re having, huh. Polite comments that require little thought and effort. I can be in and out in 60 seconds tops, whereas Daryl will ask you who has committed worse human rights violations, Putin or Xi Jinping, and then proceed to launch into his own answer before you have even opened your mouth, forcing you to nod along and hoping your eyes don’t noticeably glaze over while you wait for the merciful relief an earthquake or swarm of killer bees or swift and sudden aortic dissection would bring.

Look, I like Daryl. He’s a nice guy. But we are an agency that tracks time down to the second and we have goals to meet. I’d rather spend my precious minutes on something productive like actual client work rather than shooting the shit about how climate change is disrupting the usual balance of nature, and while melting glaciers get all the press, unforeseen consequences like pollen allergies in adults who were previously immune have a much bigger impact on John Q. Public.

In other news, we had been planning a weekend getaway to Prairie du Chien to celebrate my birthday. “We” being me and Tara, not me and Daryl. Lord have mercy.

Tara booked us a nice room in a hotel on the Mississippi River, took a PTO day on Friday, and we’d planned to head up there in the afternoon. We were looking forward to a fun and relaxing two nights’ stay, exploring/hiking by day and eating/drinking by night. My only request was that we stay in a waterfront hotel.

Be careful what you wish for, folks.

Prairie du Chien, it turns out, is underwater. The town is experiencing its worst flooding since 1965, with the Mississippi River expected to crest at its second-highest level ever this weekend: 24 feet on Saturday. How’s that for timing?

With visions of sandbags and road closures replacing forested hikes and bar-hopping, we reluctantly decided to cancel our reservations. We’ll go another time, when there’s less danger of being swept away by a swiftly flowing current.

I came up with what I consider a decent Plan(s) B: we’ll drive up to Lake Delton Friday afternoon for a visit to Ishnala, Wisconsin’s top-rated supper club. It’s been on our bucket list since before even moving here. Then on Saturday, we’re heading into Milwaukee.

If nothing else, we’re good at pivoting.

Have you ever been the fly? Do you have an annoying coworker (or friend/neighbor/family member)? How do you deal with that person? Who “won” the Aaron Rodgers trade? (I’m only asking in case I end up being the fly to Daryl’s spider again).

46 thoughts on “I’ve been that fly before.

  1. I’ve been the fly and I’ve probably sometimes been the talkative spider. Annoying co-worker? Many of them although most of my fellow teachers were wonderful. I miss them and the interaction with them.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. My neighbor Gin! She was in her 80s when we moved in and she could talk your ear off. Sometimes it was interesting stuff about the neighborhood or her trip to China in the 70s, but it took forever to exit. And sometimes she’d come over and bang on the door and then you couldn’t even escape because she was on your front porch. I finally sent Andy to the door in his bathrobe once when she interrupted us testing out a new mattress (yes, it was what you think and I wrote a post about it), After that, Gin mostly stopped her unannounced visits. MOSTLY.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Try the magic of the headset… Have it on and when the spider pounces, point at it apologetically and mouth: “I’m on a conference call.” For bonus points, play jargon-bingo by every once in a while, while waiting at the microwave, “unmute” and use phrases like “we should open the kimono more often to create synergistic opportunities for our core competencies to create win-wins”… 🤪 When in doubt, include “out of the box thinking”! 🤣

      Has at least 80% success rate for fly-survival 😁

      Liked by 1 person

  3. That’s awful about the flooding- I just heard about a lot of areas going under on the news in the midwest, and CA’s Yosemite Valley. I can read people pretty well so I don’t think I’ve been a Daryl- at least I hope not. Pretty sure we’ve all gotten stuck at some point with no way out but you learn avoidance techniques really quickly for sure. If it gets too bad maybe a mini fridge and small micro in your office. That would work as long as you time pee breaks when Daryl isn’t wandering by trolling for humans to bore to death.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You know, I actually do have a mini fridge I was using at CenturyCo. Haven’t brought it into the office here because I’m rarely there. Plus, it’s one of those really small fridges designed to hold six 12-oz. cans. Probably couldn’t squeeze a sandwich in there and definitely not leftovers.


  4. We’re in Iowa right now and usually visit family in Harper’s Ferry, but the flooding is severe there, too. Bummer because there’s a smoke house on the way we like to buy fish from. We almost crossed paths!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Many riverfront homes are underwater there – the one we visit is higher up the bank so safe, but the entire property (you have me using that word now) down to the river is flooded.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Oh yes – you are good at pivoting – and that applies to both parts of your blog post. I laughed out loud at your clarification that we is not you and Daryl celebrating your birthday weekend.

    It seems like there has to be a classic Seinfeld episode about chatterboxes like Daryl. I’m wondering if you ever set your phone timer to ring like it’s a phone call at 2 min in just in case you have to go in for emergency provisions! 🙂

    Enjoy your birthday weekend!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Huge Seinfeld fan here. There were episodes about loud talkers and close talkers, but I don’t recall any about excessive talkers. Too bad. Maybe Larry David will come up with a Curb Your Enthusiasm episode about them!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I hate to admit it, but I’m not only the fly… I married the spider. There is no such thing as a short conversation with my husband, usually concerning a topic you have absolutely no interest in. I have literally seen peoples eyes glaze over and search fur escape routes.
    Sorry your trip plans got flooded, hope you have a wonderful birthday all the same.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I’ve been a fly. My M-I-L has been known to talk at me while slowly getting closer and closer, so as I slowly and delicately put space between us, she closes the gap and eventually has me cornered. Literally in a corner. We live on different continents, so it’s not a frequent problem, but a memorable one, and one I strive to avoid.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. That would drive me crazy! I hide from long-winded people at the grocery store, so I get it! Is there a restroom you could conveniently run into while microwaving? Or could you pretend to be on your cell phone while grabbing your lunch out of the fridge?

    Bummer on the vacation trip. I just finished reading Saturday Night at the Lakeside Supper Club by J Ryan Stradel, which I guess is a Minnesota/Wisconsin thing? So now I look forward to hearing about your supper club experience. Happy Birthday!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The bathroom is right next to the break room, so that’s always a possibility. I’ll keep it in the back of my mind in case of an emergency.

      Supper clubs are very much a Wisconsin thing. We’ve been meaning to hit one up and Ishnala has been at the top of our list. Looking forward to a great time!


  9. I’ve run into a lot of Darryls. The worst Darryls are the ones that start a 15 minute soliloquy 2 minutes before the meeting must end. Everyone is aware of the clock and time except him. I usually head to the bathroom (allegedly) as the exit door is in the same hallway. I’m outta here !

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I almost included something about this in my post! During our last all-company meeting, another Daryl did exactly that. The meeting was over, lunch was on the table, we could smell it and our stomachs were growling, but Daryl II kept asking question after question after question. It was downright maddening.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. It’s so funny you posted this because my husband was just telling me about this co worker who ends up getting his way because he talks people to death….apparently this guy ran into someone by the elevator, rode the elevator down with him, walked twenty minutes to the train station with the guy, then returned to office to get his stuff. My husband said he’s the nicest guy so you can’t get mad at him….

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Great fly, and spider analogy! I’m not a small talk guy so I especially hate being the fly.

    The Aaron Rogders trade? I think the Jets gave up too much unless he stays with them for several years or unless the Jets win the Super Bowl this year. 🤷🏼‍♂️

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I worked with someone who loved to hear himself talk, and everyone was a viable candidate to be his audience if he was anywhere nearby. The best (worst) part was if you did engage him in conversation he was the type of person who never agreed with anything you said initially…but then essentially repeated what you just told him as his own view. In short, he said you were wrong and then repeated what you said. For many years now, what can go wrong with the Jets does go wrong. As much attention as Aaron needs (like oxygen to him), I am surprised he has become the fly in the web of New York media. I suspect this will not end well for either the Jets or Aaron, but the media is gonna love this. He’s an all-time great, but I don’t think this was a great move for either him or the Jets.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. We’ve all had our Daryl’s and I would work around him, just as you do. Who has the time to listen to stuff you don’t care about? No one, that’s who.

    Sorry about the birthday plans. I hope you have/had the best day no matter what the weather Gods decide.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Is there some inane or tedious technical topic (I know, do you like the alliteration) you know he hates to talk about that you could turn the conversation to? Become the most boring talker on Earth. It works wonders. Talk about accounting or technical forms. Only with him, drone on and on about it (something he doesn’t know about). In fact, purposefully seek him out on a day when you don’t have anything to do and talk a LONG time until you bore him to tears. With a little bit of prep, maybe he’ll be the one running away from you next time.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Oh yeah, I have a colleague like that. She takes thing one step further in that she avidly monitors the interaction between her colleagues and then rings to find out what was said (we all work remotely). She, however, keeps things to her chest, because secrets make her feel powerful. I avoid her like the plague, and have even taken to wearing a juju bracelet to “keep” her away from me. I know, but I’m desperate, and it seems to work…


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