The one-uppers* are annoying, but amusing if you're not actually participating in the competition.
You know the types. The people who try to out-do each other in I Have the Worst Problems Ever. I once knew a girl like this. First, her parents beat her. Then the story changed: her dad molested her. Then her father molested her while her mother watched. Later, her mother watched while eating popcorn. When she grew up, her first boyfriend verbally abused her. Then he raped her. Then he and his friends gang-raped her. Then the entire school watched while this group of guys gang-raped her. You get the idea. No matter what you said to her, her experiences were always so much worse. You needn't bother actually having a conversation with her, because it wasn't a conversation but a competition. And you would lose. Being a compulsive liar helps to win the competition, of course.
I've met a new person like this, but I do enjoy talking to her. It's just sort of different. Perhaps because she is mature: married twenty-plus years with two children, so I like to think she has more experience and less of a competitive "I've got it worse than you" drive.
I just witnessed, though, The Professional Woman's Pissing Contest, which is directly related to the one-uppers. The people involved in the Pissing Contest consisted of New Co-Worker (the person in the previous paragraph, henceforth NCW) and Other Co-Worker's Daughter (OCD).
OCD: I didn't take my medicine today. I can tell.
NCW: Oh, I know. I have to take one pill in the morning for my [deleted], one for my [deleted], and Zoloft. Then at night I take [deleted] so that I can sleep better.
OCD: Yes, I take Zoloft, too. I get really bitchy if I don't. No one wants to be around me.
NCW: Well, I'm up to 100 mg of Zoloft a day!
OCD: I was almost there, but my doctor changed me because --
NCW: They're probably going to have to raise it again soon.
OCD: -- that was too much.
I haven't been able to fully convey the tone of voice here, but take my word for it: NCW was definitely trying to one-up OCD. And OCD saw no alternative than to try to one-up NCW if she were to stay in this conversation/competition.
I found the whole thing quite amusing, and it is just one of the social quirks I have noticed since I got this job at the beginning of June. The other involves NCW and OCD's mother. Perhaps I'll be able to write about it later on this week.
*[I think I have finally figured out why this behavior bothers me so much at times. Sometimes, you just want to vent to someone. When you're upset, you need to just let it all out to someone, and it sucks to have that person make you feel inferior because you're upset, let alone have them turn the conversation around to themselves.]