Just a bit of whimsy
Just a bit of whimsy:
On Monday morning I left for work at the usual time; ten minutes later than I should have. I arrived at the office promptly ten minutes after I should have. Late again.
There were several messages on the answering machine: Jack was not coming in today (a head cold); Tony was taking an ADO (off to the beach), and Wilma, a day’s FaCS leave (daughter sick). Gemma and Allan were already on annual leave and wouldn’t be back for another week. So that left me. The only one in the office. And late again. Today of all days! I was in charge. By default, certainly, but in charge nevertheless. And of myself, it seemed. A big responsibility.
So, I was late again. And I didn’t like that. It was Monday, for heaven’s sake. If you can’t get in on time for the first day of the week, well, what sort of example does that set? Especially when you’re in charge. I deliberated for some time. In the end, I decided I had left myself no choice: I reported myself.
And that didn’t go down well. I received an almighty bawling out. Not for being late. No. But for not being able to manage my staff properly. The parting words of the senior administrator were: “If you can’t manage your staff properly, then maybe we’ll have to find somebody who can.”
“Sure, find somebody who can”, I muttered.
“None of this would have happened if you’d just kept your mouth shut”, I whispered.
“Shut up”, I said. “I’ll deal with you later.”
For the rest of the morning I avoided myself. I got busy with a couple of outstanding reports and a phone-call or two. By lunch-time I’d almost forgotten the whole incident. And I hoped I had, too. After all, I didn’t want to make an enemy of myself. I wasn’t such a bad bloke. And, besides, I had to work with myself, didn’t I?”
At around midday I went to the bathroom. I happened to glance in the mirror, and there I was glaring at myself. “What’s up with you?” I said.
“Oh, nothing”, I replied. I was being passive-aggressive.
“Well, it doesn’t look like nothing”, I said. “You still got your nose out of joint about this morning?”
“Look, if you want to play the big-shot, that’s okay by me; but I was only ten minutes late”, I sneered.
“You’re always ten minutes late”, I said. “Don’t you see the position you put me in?”
“You didn’t have to report me.”
“What would you have done if you were in my shoes?”
“I am in your shoes. Besides, I think you’re bullying me. Yep. I think this is a clear case of work-place bullying. In fact, I’m going to report you.”
And that didn’t go down well. “Instead of whinging to me about being bullied”, roared the senior administrator, “why don’t you try to be on time in future? Better still, I want you to resolve this with your immediate superior right now. Who is your boss today?”
“I am”, I said.
“Right, well get to it. Off you go.”
I was waiting in my office. I had a smug smile on my face by now. A knock at the door. “Come in”, I said.
I came in hesitantly and stood in the middle of the room.
“Well”, I said smugly, “Cat got your tongue?”
“Look”, I said. “This is ridiculous. Two grown men ……”
“One grown man”, I corrected myself.
“And that makes it even more ridiculous”, I said.
“I don’t see why.”
“No, you wouldn’t, but I ….. Look, can we settle this like two … like one adult?”
We went downtown to Charlie’s café. I had a burger and chips and a steak and vegetables. A coffee and a tea. For dessert I had an apple pie and ice cream and a fruit salad and ice cream. I smoked a Dunhill and a Camel cigarette. Charlie eyed me warily.
It was a great success. We were now best of friends again. No hard feelings and all that. I was quick to point out my failings as a manager, and I was just as quick to admit that I had been irresponsible as an employee. We got on so well, in fact, that I invited myself home for dinner that night.
My wife was delighted. I seemed happier than ever, she remarked. And so did I. “It’s lovely to see you both … er ….. well, you, honey ….. I mean, the two of …. er, happy again”, she said.
“Well, thank you, dear”. “Yes, thank you.”
She had set the table for four. And I had to agree that it was indeed wonderful to see us all happy again. She slipped back into the kitchen and I could hear her chatting amongst herself. It all sounded very pleasant. But when she returned she was crying.
“Whatever is the matter, darling?” I said, rising from the table.
“It’s me”, she cried.
“You?” I said.
“Yes me. Whenever I’m in the kitchen with myself I take over everything. I try to control everything. I’m just so bossy! Really, I can’t take it anymore. Honey, I think there’s something terribly wrong with us.”
I stroked her hair and patted her back.
“I … I think I might have a solution”, I said.
“You do?” she sniffled.
“Yes. And what’s more, I think it might just work.”
“What is it, darling?”
“Let’s go eat out”, I said.
My wife looked up at me. A tear in her eye. “You are so clever”, she said. “No wonder they made you the boss.”
In half an hour we were all seated at a corner table at Charlie’s – my wife and I and my wife and I.
Charlie eyed us warily.