Friday, December 18, 2009

the unpeggable work-friend

My work-friend (wf) is a fascinating study. She befriended me through sheer endurance. Usually I will like who I like and if I don’t like you immediately, you get no second chances. But I’m becoming more open-minded in my old age, or something, and work-friend is locked in. At work only.

Work-friend specifically refers to me as “friend”.

“Hello, friend.” She says when she sees me in the morning. At first I interpreted this as reinforcement, as if she were trying to establish rapport with me that wasn’t happening naturally so she forced it by pointedly referring to me as “friend”. Then, I gained middle ground and figured maybe this is how she greets friends. I’m still not sure but work-friend is stubborn and has hung on through our many differences, I’ve grown to appreciate this about her.

I asked her to take the (shortened) Myers-briggs during my most recent obsession with it. She scored my exact opposite in everything except Extroversion. I had intuited our drastic processing differences upon meeting her but they’ve only magnified after scientific proof.

But the thing about work-friend that fascinates me the most is her different voices. I’m not sure if I should call these tones or voices, but in my mind I think of them as separate personalities so voices seems right-er.

Voice 1 appears to be her normal/default voice. This is (what appears to be) an unmodified voice, a gentle not too-too Southern accent, variations in tone moving easily between happy, sad, irritated and various other emotions. Voice 1 is most often used when we are alone, or she is on the phone with her boyfriend.

Voice 2 is only slightly different from Voice 2. The accent becomes a bit more syrup and there is a strange lilting to the ends of her words. There is also an “eager beaver” edge to it and Voice 2 is always upbeat. This voice is used in the presence of “Higher Ups” even when they are not directly being spoken to.

Voice 3 specifically applies to black people. This one really bothered me at first. Black people don’t seem to notice it because of the strange coincidence of thinking that this is how work-friend actually talks because she always talks to them this way. Voice 3’s Southern accent thickens to the point of molasses and includes a lot of references to black culture, rap music she likes and interjections of ‘awwww, yeahhh’ and ‘you know it’.

Voice 4 is for people in positions of service to work-friend. When work-friend calls someone on the phone to ask a question her voice become yellow sunshine honey, so sweet I want to brush my teeth. If I were the recipient of Voice 4, I would imagine dimples, pigtails and a head cocked puppy-like to the side. Maybe bubblegum smacking. Voice 4 talks circles around the listener until they give Voice 4 whatever Voice 4 wants. Tone is usually menacingly cheery.

Voice 5 is used when work-friend doesn’t like someone, light and nasally and pleasant. It reverts directly into Voice 1 (subset, catty) when subject leaves.

I understand the concept of people speaking to different people in different ways, I even understand that some people think this is necessary for our society to work but I don’t have a real ability to practice it. I talk to everyone the same way: boss, kid, partner, mom, friends. I like this about myself. I am One-Voiced.