Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Well, my Tourette's Really got to Someone at Work

Last week, someone made a complaint about my behaviour at work.

What could it have been? My stressed obscenity yelling and flailing gotten too much for the management? Have I wasted too much time making sure my hands are germ free in the bathroom? Is my clumsiness meaning I do my job too slowly?

Apparently not.

It seems, I was...sort of...scaring someone. Immediately behind me, sits a chap who gets around by motability scooter a lot of the time, although he can walk ok over short distances. I don't know the cause of his disability, but I know he has been mugged twice. He told me this.

He told me this when he asked me not to basically tic behind him, or move too close behind him. He said his reaction to people who come up behind him and startle him thus is to hit them. Now one of the things I do at work sometimes is to automatically jump up from my desk, and take a few paces back sometimes, sometimes a bit of a trot up and down, a bit of a wave, a bit of a cricket bowl at imaginary things.

A lot of the time I'm barely aware I'm starting to do it. I just DO. I apologised and said there was no intent to it, this happened twice. The third time, he went to my immediate supervisor, who took me out back for a quiet chat.

He was totally understanding, said he knew I did things without realising, but could I please try and realise and not do stuff too near this other fellow. I said of course I would, if I did realise, and I would move away from him. He then said if he did hit me, as he'd obviously told my supervisor might happen, it might lead to very unpleasant disciplinary procedures for him.

I told him I wouldn't "press charges" as it were if it did happen, but I was told company policy would have over-ruled me. So basically, if you are going to tic, go and tic somewhere else if at all possible.

Like I said, I said I would if I could, but sometimes it's such an automated action it just happens. I myself hate being touched unexpectedly, and in fact am probably even jumpier than he is. I don't criticise him. But I get mighty puzzled when I see him standing talking to a manager with his back to a busy doorway, where people were walking through rather closer than I was.

An office re-arrangement at work has now had the good fortune of separating us. But I am very curious as to how on earth this situation would have played out. Because I wouldn't have been able to stop myself for long, and ergo the promised punch would have arrived at some point.

I think I forget how intimidating Tourette's can perhaps be. It isn't cute. It can't be cured by swimming with dolphins or going on a once in a lifetime rip to Disneyland. I can imagine a 6'1 85 kilo man in a frenzy can be quite scary, especially when the attractive snarls and yells are thrown in. I can be lungey, and disrespectful of personal space, which is a copper bottomed irony.

But, it is me, and without it I wouldn't be me any more. Was he being oversensitive? Was I?



  1. Hmmm.... my cynical take is that your coworker did this to justify the very office rearrangement that occurred because your Tourettes was annoying him. So he wins by being manipulative. But you didn't lose, unless you wound up in a less desirable location in the new layout. Does that make it ok? Probably not. I would offer you my sympathy, but I don't think you need sympathy. :-) However, I will offer you an empathetic ear (an eye?) to vent to via your blog.

  2. Hey Simon, glad he didn't thump you. That would have been bad. I know he's got issues but he seems to have overreacted. Maybe it's just as well you have more space between you and like Wilma saya, hope it's to your liking.

  3. The sensible solution was for the office powers that be to move you guys apart, which they've done. He had he courage/ courtesy to explain his worries to you, you did the same in return. I don't suppose there was anything malicious in it, just two folks sitting close together who weren't mutually conducive.
    I understand the disciplinary procedure over punching, but it does seem crazy that they would have pressed ahead even if you, the injured party, hadn't wanted them too, especially given that both parties had already discussed the potential for a problem and the reason for it. Also sounds misguided to assume involuntary tics can be controlled! Perhaps they could do with some gentle educating? Hope you're OK - it can't have been a very pleasant episode for you.

  4. It was odd more than anything else, and I've had harsher disciplinaries over the condition, especially before I was diagnosed. And a lifetime of being stared at, or yelled at from car windows sometimes. One gets used to it.

    Always feel I'm taking a risk writing this stuff on here, it is on my CV after all and potential employers can see it should they wish. My view is that an employer bothered by this is not one I should work for.

    Thanks for the kind words!