About Your Keen Interest in My Personal Life

Dear Ron,

How are things? This weather we've been having lately has been just beautiful, hasn't it? There's nothing quite like waking up in the morning to a warm breeze and the sound of birds chirping. (Unless those birds just started nesting in your gutters. Good luck trying to rid yourself of that situation, am I right?)

Say, I just heard your daughter's selling those cookies again for a fundraiser. Me and the wife have been craving those little coconut things ever since we finished off our order from last year. So sign us up for double this time!

Now...see what I did there?

No prying questions about what you did last night or plan on doing tonight. No planning of future endeavors with our families. No prodding about your life in any too-specific manner. It's the definition of small talk, which is something I've been meaning to explain to you for the longest time, but doing so coincidentally goes beyond the boundaries of small talk, thus violating my own rule.

Well, your invitation to go camping this weekend got me thinking that an exception needs to be made with this rule.

Let me back up for a second. There's a reason I haven't friended you on Facebook. It's because we work together. We're coworkers. That's all. I have nothing against you, personally, aside from the fact that you keep trying to get to know me...personally. Don't misunderstand, if you're curious what I thought of last night's American Idol or how that garden project of mine is coming, feel free to ask. And I'm more than happy to swap stories about the recent increase in employee lunch theft because that's related to work. And that's how I know you.

...From work.

See, we didn't go to high school together, grow up in the same city, or attend the same space camp as children. So it's bewildering that you keep talking to me as if we've known each other since we were fetuses. (Regardless of what your mother's womb told you, we were never BFFs.) You have to understand there's a pretty thick line between casual chat and personal intrusion that, as my coworker, you should be able to navigate better. For instance, I didn't think much of it when you suggested the next time I grill steaks that I try marinating them in beer for a few hours. On the other hand, when you forwarded me a list of all the local cooking classes you've been dying to take with a partner...
What I'm saying is, don't expect an invitation to one of my barbecues any time soon. I'm not saying that because I dislike you as a person so much as I dislike the idea of you being my friend. Let me reiterate: I do not hate you. But I don't think I'd particularly enjoy you outside of work, either. You're a see-you-at-the-office kind of person is all.

You're not going to change my mind by "subtly" hinting that you bought way too much beer for this weekend and could really use somebody to help drink it. Granted, I'll give you points for appealing to my inner alcoholic, but if your true intention is to get rid of a few excess cold ones, why don't you just go ahead and drop them off at my front door? That would be neat.

So please, in the future, let's try to keep this relationship casual. And by casual I mean let's communicate through email from now on.

See you around the office,
Your coworker


  1. Any plans for the summer?

    (Don't you hate this crap?)

    1. I do. Mostly because the other person is no doubt only asking the question so they can tell you what THEIR plans for the summer are.