Episode 71 – Trials and Tribulations of Nerds in The Workplace

After high school, the most dangerous place for the common nerd is the workplace. Or is it?

It really all depends on the workplace in question. An investment office full of ambitious, privileged, pretty people might not be a safe haven for a dumpy, balding man with a moderate case of Aspergers. But he might be revered as a guru at the comic shop.

Or he might get fired for sexually harassing “the girl” who works there.

But extreme situations aside, many people feel the need to hide their nerdy inclinations from their colleagues. And it’s too bad since they might find out there’s a fellow Trekkie two cubicles down if they weren’t afraid of ridicule around the water-cooler.

And it’s no wonder people are afraid. Whenever coworkers find out I like Star Trek and sci-fi they always say something to the effect of, “Really? I didn’t think you would be into that kind of thing!” with barely disguised disdain. I find it amusing  but someone less at ease with their own nerdiness may feel the need to cry away the shame in a bathroom stall.

Also amusing is when they think they’re being reassuring and supportive by saying, “But you’re not a… a nerd.”

I usually just say, “Yeah, I am kind of,” and refrain from pointing out they’re a big nerd too. Probably bigger than me. Like closeted gays who rattle off homophobic epithets to protect themselves from their own desires, the biggest offenders of workplace nerd-bashing are closeted nerds. Another reason the Nerd Pride movement is so important.

ugly betty
They even make sitcoms about nerds facing discrimination in the workplace.

By and large, Mandi and I have been lucky. We’ve both worked exclusively in nerd-friendly environments. Mandi worked at a Nerd Store (comics, role-playing games, magic supplies—as in actual stage magic, not the card game) and historical reenactment Fort, and I’ve worked at video stores and record stores before moving on to the uber-geeky environment of mid-level government offices.

Record stores may seem like hot-beds of cool from the outside, but you’ll never find a more wretched hive of nerds and geekery. Sure, the odd coolie-woolie comes in looking for the hippest new record by the hippest new band from Brooklyn, but the regulars are guys looking for first-pressings of ’70s prog bands or Japanese pressings of Deep Purple records with the obi intact.

I ask you who’s nerdier: A guy looking for a specific Spiderman comic or a dude looking for a specific bluegrass 78 from the 1930s? I’ve seen both and let me tell you, anyone looking for 78s is beyond hope.

So the other side of the counter is pretty much the safest place for a nerd to work. I’ve also seen nerds’ social statuses skyrocket as soon as they became record store employees. It’s a sad statement on society and the sheep-like nature of human beings, but it’s a fact. Record stores turn nerds from pumpkins into princesses. Too bad they really are going to be a thing of the past in about five to ten years.

Nerd-bashing certainly can be a danger in the workplace, we’ve just never experienced it. But normies should take note and watch this classic study on what can result from workplace nerd abuse. Be careful who you marginalize.

LINK: We reference a Karen who bought actress Suzie Plakson‘s vulcan ears. And we say some stuff about that. You can read about that HERE for context.

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2 Responses to Episode 71 – Trials and Tribulations of Nerds in The Workplace

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