The Unassuming Metalhead – October 2015 (“Coworkers”)

the unassuming metalhead

Coworkers can be so unpredictable in their reactions to metal fandom. Looking at it from the broadest perspective, you’d probably expect more openness to the genre from younger colleagues and less from older ones, right? Yet the actual trends in reactions seems just as likely to go the opposite way. In short: who the hell knows how your coworkers are going to respond when you tell them you like heavy metal? You kind of just have to take it as it comes and see what the reaction’s like. Here are some that I’ve run into:

Trying To Seem Hip to Metal

This one’s always fun. I love it when people try really hard to name-drop bands that, surely, must still be en vogue among metalheads, right? Never mind that, A) as I’ve said many times before, metal isn’t the only thing I listen to, and B) I really don’t care if you’re not a fan of the genre. Bless their hearts, though, these folks will try their damnedest to seem like they know what’s up.

I used to work with a guy named Jeff (name changed, duh) who was like this. Nice guy! Really nice guy, in fact. We’d talk basketball all the time, hit the occasional happy hour with other colleagues, you name it. It was at one of those happy hours that Jeff found out about my metal fandom. Since we’d scheduled it on a Wednesday, I had to leave the gathering a bit earlier than the rest of the group to get home and prepare for the podcast.

“Whoa, Dan, you have a podcast? That’s awesome! What’s it about?”

“It’s about heavy metal music.”

“Whoa, really? That’s awesome. I —“

never would have pegged you for a metal fan. Yep, I know. Nobody ever does. After a minute or so worth of small talk about how I’d gotten into metal, I left the group, trekked back home and thought it was over with.

But then, over the next few weeks, I started to notice a change in my conversations with Jeff. He’d subtly name drop bands or metal related questions into our exchanges. For example:

“So Dan, when’s, uh… Metallica, going to put out a new album? It’s been a little while for them, hasn’t it?”

Or:

“Hey, I heard Marilyn Manson’s touring! He’s scary, right?”

That last one actually happened, verbatim, and I still find it completely hilarious. The question at the end is a ridiculous non sequitur, and to this day, I’m still not sure if he was making an observation or asking a question. I was a bit busy at the time, so I think I ended up saying something generic like “Yeah, he sure puts on a show!” and then turning back to my work.

This continued on for a while, before I eventually disclosed that Nine Circles focused on stuff that was more underground. I can’t remember exactly how I put it, but some combination of the words Scandinavian, black metal, underground, death metal and extreme almost certainly made it into the description. After that, Jeff stopped really getting into specifics. He asked for the link to our site, and then would periodically ask how the podcast was going, but that was about the extent of it.

In doing this, I wasn’t deliberately trying to shake him off. And thinking about it, it’s…okay, a little presumptuous of me to assume he wasn’t into heavy music — maybe he wasn’t just trying to name drop random artists and did actually like those bands. Either way, I’m not trying to judge Jeff or his particular taste in music. I just found this series of events amusing.

Jokingly Contemptuous Toward Metal

On the other end of the spectrum comes my old boss, Craig. (Name changed again, duh) Craig was quite proudly not hip with most pop culture trends. In fact, “not hip” was an understatement. At times, it felt like his tastes were almost deliberately clichéd. He eschewed Breaking Bad for The Real Housewives of New Jersey (seriously) and spoke openly and frequently of his love for both Bruce Springsteen and Bon Jovi. (He lived in New Jersey.)

Because we worked in public relations, we interacted with each other multiple times a day, whether by phone, email, or by walking over to each other’s desks to discuss strategy — when our clients needed something, we obliged. And on more than one occasion, Craig happened to walk over to my desk while I had Spotify open. You know where this is going.

One time — I can’t even remember what band I was listening to — Craig stopped over at the end of the day to make sure we’d covered all the day’s bases for a particular client, and lost his train of thought when he heard the music.

“Dan, what is that?”

“It’s a band called [INSERT-BAND-NAME-HERE].”

“Why are you listening to that?”

“They’re awesome! It’s a great way to blow off some steam.”

“See, I always liked Whitesnake and Ratt to blow off some steam when I was your age. I guess they don’t make ’em like they used to.”

Folks who don’t know Craig may think this sounds like an attempt at an insult, but it wasn’t. That was just Craig. He had a strange, often completely hilarious way of interacting with people. Describing it in-depth would take hours. Suffice it to say, I gave him the ol’ smile-and-nod, told him “I guess not,” and he left for the day.

After that, Craig kept finding ways to work in subtle, playful jabs at contemporary metal. We’d be sitting down for our Monday morning all-staff meetings and he’d look over and ask:

“Hey Dan, how was your weekend? Did you go to any metal shows?”

“Yeah, Craig, it was good. I went to see a band called [INSERT NAME HERE].”

“Cool, cool. What was the show like? Was there lots of animal sacrifice?”

Or one time, the Monday after the Grammy Awards telecast, everyone in the office was chatting about who’d won which awards, when all of a sudden, Craig pops his head out of the office and asks:

“Wait, Dan, you watch the Grammys? I didn’t know you liked music where you can actually understand the vocals!”

Again, it wasn’t an insult — or at least it didn’t feel like one. Rather, I saw it as a kind of setup for some bizarre banter / comedic riffing among coworkers. Ours was a strange, irreverent office, and nobody took jabs like this personally. When you were busy being hung up on, or in some cases being told “please never pitch me again” all day, your skin thickened pretty quickly. In any case, I had the Whitesnake, Ratt, and Real Housewives cards up my sleeve, and would have had no problem deploying them had I really felt offended.

In retrospect, it’s probably a good thing Craig and I crossed paths before Nine Circles became a thing. I have no idea how he’d respond if he saw me working on a site that reviewed bands named Generichrist and Shitfucker. Probably not well. Maybe hilariously. I don’t know. Our interactions were always good-spirited, but…everyone’s gotta have a line that’s not to be crossed, right?

I don’t really have an ending. That’s this month’s column! Check back next month for more dealings with the simps, and make sure to share your own with me in the meantime!

Keep it heavy,
Dan

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