I used to work in a relatively small workplace with what I now realise was a reasonably homogeneous workplace. As long as you could talk about the football you were generally okay – we all came from roughly the same place and the same background. Hell, three of us had history degrees. On one notable afternoon we discussed Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. We discussed minor character plot points. This was considered normal.
I now work in a significantly bigger workplace which is a bit of a surprise and has a lot of stuff I wasn't quite expecting. I was prepared for the fact there would be people from a wider variety of cultures, and I'm enjoying that. I'm not the only northerner but I'm the only recent one, so I quite enjoyed telling the sales team what the term 'reet' meant. (Translation: “Right” or in context “Alright,” so you might say in response to a query “Nah, I'm reet ta!” which is a sentence that really puzzles my Scottish inlaws.) People bring in food on national festivals, for example, so whilst I am getting fatter I am at least becoming more enlightened. All of that is good.
No, the real surprise is what a wide variety of people I work with and trying to find common ground. I am a fairly quiet geeky sort. I work in a geeky, male-dominated industry so I assumed that I would fit right in with a bit of Star Trek, but this doesn't appear to be the case thus far.
Firstly, I appear to have arrived in the middle of a baby boom. I am mildly childphobic, or at least in term of actually sprogging up myself, so to be constantly surrounded by people who are pregnant/have partners who are pregnant/be just back from maternity/paternity leave is a very bizarre experience. I'm fairly good at expressing interest in other people's kids. My cheery excuse of “I live in a one bedroom flat in Walthamstow!” means that I can put off the 'when are you going to have kids?' question for now, but I do idly wonder how I will deal with the same question in my thirties.
Also, other people's hobbies are really weird. I'm quite good at deflecting football questions, but I have no idea how to discuss one colleague's deep and abiding interest in Rolls Royces. That said, no one appears to share my passion for London restoration architecture – I got very excited about a Wren church near my work and everyone else was baffled.
Also, I would be posting more often but I must confess to being sort of constantly exhausted at the moment. I have lots of fascinating stuff to write about, but finding the time to do so is a little tricky. When you spend all day learning about classic cars (despite your personal inclinations of 'you're a nice guy, but I really don't care, please be quiet') I think the brain shuts down a little.
Alas, no one in my work practises extreme ironing. I think.