I started my new job yesterday and today (Friday) was the end of my first week…so to speak. The day before I started I was just pacing up and down the house, not knowing what to do with myself. How to kill the time.
So the job is going ok so far, but they're obviously not expecting me to be running the whole company for them yet, I'm just on light duties at the moment but that's par for the course in this industry. Helping resolve minor problems in existing systems is the best way of learning your way around how things work and how they're put together. I'm quite sure I've surprised them with how quickly I've picked things up…but I'm like that; I just look at code and I understand it, it's how my brain works. I've already played a good part of getting something finished on time which isn't bad going seeing as this is a massive computer application that I spent the morning of my first day looking at and was fixing issues with from lunch-time onward. I just hope I can rise to the real challenge which is when they start to expect more of a leadership role from me.
The people I work with are nice, quite agreeable and easy to get along with. They're quite juvenile but that's fine with me as I'm hardly Mr Mature myself so I quite like the low level of the banter and humour in the office. I far prefer it to people who are more serious and grown-up.
Alas they're also really, really social. It's a big company and the whole company seems social but our little group in our little office are very social among each other too. Naturally they expect me to just slip into this fast-lane of uber mixing but it's all too soon for me. It's too soon with these people I've just met, and socialising the way they want to in noisy clubs is just too much for me period. But what can you do? You can go along and hope to cope, or politely decline and look like the office outsider. I liked going out with my old workmates but I had time to get to know them all. With my new colleagues it's like I've been pushed into a busy road.
As well as the weekend activities I have avoided, there is an unofficial "networking" event happening at a local pub next Wednesday that apparently lots of local companies in our industry go to. They were telling me about it with glee at lunch, how great it is and what a laugh it is…drinking and meeting lots of new people. Great for you maybe…hell for me. Again I can either not go and have it look like I'm not a team-player, not fitting in, not mixing, not caring about my career…or I can go and look like a deer caught in headlights and be all awkward and drop the ball whenever someone tries to talk to me. I mean…I can't "network", and I don't want to either. There is also the risk I'll want to stick with my own colleagues and end up looking like a lost puppy following them around. On top of all of that Wednesday is a gym night. I'll either have to just get out of it, or go but say I can't stay long.
Being suddenly dropped in this world of hyper-sociality has made me feel quite disorientated and inadequate. It reminds me how different everyone else is, how much social interaction really drives their whole lives. How much joy interacting with people brings them.
Normally with smaller firms this stuff isn't an issue, but with these big firms how you "fit in" is a big thing for them, as important as your actual work. This is where them knowing I have Asperger's Syndrome would probably help as it might give me some leeway and let them know I can't help drowning in their lifestyle. I mean I know I get better given time…I just need that time to slowly adjust and integrate, and to get to know people. I can't just instantly morph into a social animal.
Which leads me onto the next thing. My line manager's wife is a teacher at an autistic school. Great. When he brought it up someone in the office said that the kids would be great to take to a casino (in reference to "Rain Man") and he corrected them on the difference between autism and being a savant. So he obviously knows a little about it all and there may be trouble ahead there. Though on the other side, if it comes down to it and my lack of "fitting in" is causing me problems I guess I'll have an ally there if I do decide to tell them. Though I can't see it getting that far. I've long suspected through my whole career that my technical abilities have helped negate the downsides of my personality and helped carry me when normally I'd have been dropped.
Interesting times ahead so batten down the hatches.