Tuesday, September 20, 2011

What can I say. People bring out stuff in us.

I had the most intense moment just now. My knees are still shaky. I was in the supermarket and for a second I thought I saw John. You don’t know John, but I know him and I’m sure he remembers me. John and I go waaay back. We have history. As my heart began to race, I took a second, courageous but what I hope to have been a discreet peek at the suspiciously looking man in the dairy section. I was relieved to see I was mistaken. John had presumably other business to attend this late Tuesday evening than choosing yoghurt.

And now I am compelled to tell you about John and I.

Years ago John and I worked for the same company. Whenever I was told that I had to work with him again (yes, that’s a made-up name), I felt an overwhelming urge to open a new Word document and start writing my resignation. My second thought almost always involved me, a car and the highway. If I could have gotten off the hook, I would have begged to be reassigned. I would have promised my boss I’d walk her dog or care for any other pet, no matter how stinky or messy, just to not have to see John’s face again. I’d have called in sick, though I never did. I wouldn’t have lied if I’d have. I did not feel well at all when I pictured John’s frightening laughter or the devious glances he gave, that make me forget what I wanted to say in the middle of my sentence. Then, though, I would remember the benefits of working with him. I still believe the energy I spent masking my anxiety and yawns helped me at the time maintain a slender figure.

Engaging in dialogue with John was adventurous. Having learned the hard way that all his sentences began with ‘no’ irrespective of the ideas brought by others to the table, I would try to limit my input as much as possible. That was not always easy to do, as I still needed to do my job, which many times involved me speaking (yes, many jobs nowadays require that). My opinions had the unavoidable effect of pissing John off. I would choose my words carefully, watching with fascination the red spots climbing on his neck and cheeks. The spots were John’s physiological way of giving me the middle finger. They warned me that his rage approached climax, so I knew it was time to back off.

Yes, John and I got along great, just like the proverbial pees in the pod. Had we met in the supermarket, chances are one of us would have dropped the shopping basket right there and then, and run. What can I say, it’s so nice to work with nice people and make new friends in the office every day.

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