The town of Hitchin in Hertfordshire where, in the regional office of a major insurance provider, tensions are on the rise. The situation is down to the behaviour of Company Analyst Gary Showalter who, following a series of thoughtless actions and insensitive remarks, has increased speculation among co-workers that he is one of the estimated 8% of individuals within the British employment system who are actually functioning “I’d been around Gary long enough to know he was the ultimate narcissist,” Accounts Clerk Sybil Beautyman (left) told Home Defence in hushed tones as we made coffee near the ‘breakout area’ of her department. “Gary never really listens to what anyone says unless there’s something in it for him. Then he suddenly gets all concerned with the detail of superiors’ personal lives, and pretends to be interested in the thoughts of anyone who could escalate his
“But even I thought that when Emilia [Burg - Personal Assistant] came back to the office after six months compassionate leave following the death of her only child, Gary might temper his self-obsession with a little sensitivity. Not go on endlessly about trivial bullshit in her presence, as if the whole world revolved around him.”
Miss Beautyman grimaced before concluding: “Apparently not.”
Indeed, despite only sitting a few desks away from his bereaved colleague, and being privy to
every official email and much sympathetic gossip about Mrs Burg’s personal life, ‘progress’
and emotional state of being, Gary has entirely failed to hold his tongue since her return to
the office. Instead Showalter has been seen offering distracted co-workers a running narrative
on the things that are apparently important to him, the borderline psycho.
Sources confirm these soliloquies have, in recent weeks, included a moan that he had to
spend part of the weekend visiting his girlfriend’s elderly parents, disgust at Apple’s failings
around the latest iPhone release, and anger at the helpdesk’s inability to fix bugs in a new
software deployment. The latter Mr. Showalter described, with a startling lack of empathy
and in earshot of the still-grieving Emilia, as “life or death”.
“I mean, imagine how irrelevant one man’s gearbox problems are to her. Or indeed, the rest of us.” Sybil Beautyman went on as we drifted to the water cooler, continuing sotto voce so no one would hear. “I was a bit bored yesterday so I Googled a few of Gary’s character traits and they match those of the classic sociopath almost exactly. I guess it’s our bad luck he’s managed to avoid committing any crimes so far. Most of society at large still doesn’t recognise him for what he is.”
“And people round here don’t either, unfortunately.” Sybil went on. “I mentioned it to Cristal [Office Manager] over drinks last night and she told me, with a straight face, that Gary was ‘far too nicely turned out to be a sociopath’. I think people round here have bought into Gary’s idea of himself almost as much as he has.” The official term for what Mr. Showalter clearly suffers from is ‘AntiSocial Personality Disorder’ (ASPD), a condition that begins in childhood and goes on to represent a pattern of disregard for, and violation of, the rights of others throughout an individual’s life. This will often go unnoticed by parents who rationalise the obscene acts of their child as “a phase he’s going through” or, when their offspring tortures, bullies, and exploits fellow schoolchildren, simply "a case of boys will be
The symptoms of ASPD include poor impulse control, shallow emotional responses, a lack of remorse and the ability to rationalize hurting others while constantly seeking new sensations. Sufferers are unable to form strong relationships and will exhibit irresponsibility, promiscuity and superficial charm, the latter of which conceals a high degree of manipulation and the tendency to lie. Because of these traits, such people often enter the world of celebrity where such issues are regarded as normal and, if exhibited on reality TV, can be well-rewarded.
Home Defence cold-called Mr. Showalter, endeavouring to gain insight into his condition with
the aim of encouraging the man to seek treatment before he did something really horrible.
HDUK mentioned we were working on an important news story, and that a name-check by
us couldn’t do his public profile any harm. Gary listened then, at first dismissing the notion
anyone could have problems that were worse than his own which, at the present time,
appeared to consist mainly of dissatisfaction at the yields of his share portfolio. However,
when we confronted Mr. Showalter with the facts of his insensitivity and Emilia Burg’s
terrible recent loss, he responded:
“What? Is that right? Oh yeah, I heard something about that. But if Em was really bothered
she wouldn’t come to work, right? Christ knows, I almost didn’t make it in today. Not with the
way my boiler’s been playing up lately. Absolute nightmare. Did you know I had to take a cold shower one day last week?”
We then proceeded to quote a number of potentially upsetting comments Mr. Showalter had made publicly over the past weeks to which he answered: “I’m sure she wouldn’t have heard me say that and anyway, everyone knows what I’m like. That’s what people buy into when they get Gary on board. You need to get off the phone now; I’ve an incoming call from my financial advisor.”
In the coming days the Company Analyst is expected to continue to disregard the wants and needs of other people, spending his waking hours going on about problems with public transport, how the weather ruined his weekend plans, and the way these new shoes rub against his heel. This will all be communicated in a loud voice within Gary’s open-plan workplace, upsetting a secretary who has been going through a painful divorce with his views on gender equality and why he wants an expensive wedding one day. Gary will then alienate a Haitian Facilities Coordinator whose parents have recently been ‘disappeared’ by the country’s rulers with ill-thought out opinions on free trade, and how third world destabilisation is bad for both global markets and his investment portfolio. Gary will then fail to be invited to any leaving drinks or celebratory drinks, or the 2011 Office Christmas Party, and will not understand why.