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“Hope I can help the ballclub”

Last updated on January 31, 2023

There have been times in my freelance career where I have been privy to too much information. I’m not talking about competitive intelligence or stuff that’s covered in nondisclosure agreements. I’m talking about personal stuff. Like when I was told that the product manager was bipolar and was in therapy for her “anger management issues;” I would have figured that one out soon enough as doors slammed and office supplies were zinged towards unsuspecting craniums.

I’ve heard about mistresses, drug habits and rumors of nontraditional sexual proclivities. Oh yes, I really have. I’m not sure if the intent is to shock or to warn me, but I’ve heard many things that I wish I could un-hear. And through it all, I’ve tried to remain nonchalant and detached, acting like these sorts of office intrigues are neither interesting nor intriguing, all while the little voice in my head shouts that it might be a good idea to get out. Now.

As I try to say something noncommittal that downplays the juicy tidbit and reinforces my desire to be there as a team player, I always find myself thinking of Kevin Costner in the movie Bull Durham. Kevin’s character, Crash, takes Nuke (played by Tim Robbins) aside on the team bus and teaches him how to spout cliches in postgame interviews. It takes every bit of restraint in my body to refrain from parroting his words: “I’m just happy to be here and hope I can help the ballclub. I just wanna give it my best shot and, good lord willing, things’ll work out.”

I’m all for being a team player, but I have to admit that I much prefer to be able to observe the workplace politics and gossip from a safe distance, without the insider information.

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