The curious case of the constantly cursing co-worker.
Updated: Aug 1, 2021
The first thing I thought to myself was holy shit that woman can really curse. At first, I thought she was in a bad mood or had a horrible toothache. Tourette’s syndrome even crossed my mind. But after a few weeks, I realized this was just the way she talked. Some people have a southern accent. Some people say pop instead of soda. And some people talk like an angry truck driver who spent 75 years in the Navy.
She was tough as nails. And wanted to make damn sure every one of those fuckholes knew it. My six-year-old now knows that word thanks to this woman. It takes a village.
I don’t think that having a potty mouth makes you a bad person. I, myself, certainly don’t shy away from colorful language. But this went beyond keeping it real. This was some sort of defense mechanism. It was a shield. A veneer. An overcompensation.
Short men who behave this way are often said to have a Napoleon complex. Men who aren’t short and behave this way are often said to be Australian.
It was a constant barrage of fucks and fucking assholes and I fucking told them we’d have a come to fucking Jesus meeting if they didn’t get their fucking shit together. At first it was invigorating. Throwing around motherfuckers and cheese dicks is inherently anti-corporate. I like anti-corporate. I think it’s crucial for an advertising agency to be as anti-corporate as possible. Chiat Day nails it with the whole pirate thing. As communicators, problem solvers and business accelerators we need to operate with a certain degree of zero fucks given if we’re truly going to be the fearless creative visionaries they want us to be.
But after a while it got to me. As a writer I’ve come to have a special relationship with words that goes beyond just their meaning. To me, words have a shape and feel to them. Some are soft and lazy like alabaster. I’ve always loved the way that word rolls around on itself. There are crunchy words like committee, church and itchy. There are chewy words like sasquatch, curmudgeon and boisterous. They give your mouth a chance to do some light stretching when you say them.
Curse words come with a punch. They wake you up. They keep you on your toes. If you weren’t listening for any reason a good motherfucker will quickly reel you back into the conversation.
If you were to look at a curse word under a microscope I think it would look like a virus. All sharp and pointy. Able to invade other cells and multiply. Curse words are meant to cause damage. They’re like little grenades that you can toss into the conversation just to blow shit up.
I actually liked the constantly cursing coworker. I thought she was smart. I thought she was super passionate. And I know she worked her fucking ass off because she truly gave a damn about the fucking work. But after a while the words began to wear me down. They brutalized me. They made me feel anxious and nervous that something fucking horrible was about to happen any God damned second.
But here’s the deal with the constantly cursing coworker. In poker they’d call it a tell. It’s like the Oreos that the John Malkovich character in Rounders was eating. When the curse words stop, that’s when you know they’re bluffing. And that’s when you go all in.