I was walking down the hallway and my boss was walking the other way. He had this worried look so I asked him how he was doing. I thought I would hear that he was fine or at the most he would say the budget meeting was long. Well, that’s not what I got.
“How are you?” I said.
He stopped, blocking my path, “Well, the budget meeting didn’t go well. I‘m going to have to make a 15% personnel cut, which means you will probably be out of a job. How are you doing?”
“Well, ok I guess until you told me I was going to be laid off.”
“Yes. Tough that. See you.”
I was dumbstruck, just standing in the hall when my friend Chuck came by. I looked at him and him at me. I was scared to say anything but basically I’m a doormat so I blurted out, “How are you?”
“Not good. Not good at all. I think my wife may have found out about my affair with Susie down in accounting. She’s threatening divorce and Susie just told me she’s pregnant.”
“Oh my God. That’s terrible. I better go know. Good luck.”
I rushed down the hall jumping into aisles if someone I knew started to come my way. I was passing a complete stranger and I politely nodded to him when he grabbed my arm.
“My son is in rehab again. This is the third time. He’s going to bankrupt us! I don’t know what to do.”
“Well, the little bastard should stop having his parents save his ass all the time. Kick him out but be prepared for prison or death because that’s always a possibility, but it’s the only way, believe me. With any luck he’ll get sober.” It came out of my mouth before I could stop it. I look at the man horrified and he looked back surprised and fearful. Then he continued his way down the hall. Somehow I felt empowered. I had just helped that man. I could help people!
I saw someone I knew so I got ready and asked the question, “How are you?”
“Well I just broke up and my parents found out I was gay cuz my lover threw all my stuff on their front lawn. I thought my dad was going to have a heart attack. My mom kept saying, ‘what did we do wrong?’”
“Well, its best that it’s in the open now so you can deal with it. There is nothing wrong with your lifestyle choice. They just have to come to grips with it. And remember; don’t go back to the bitch.”
He looked at me as if I had two heads. Maybe I had gone a little far with that bitch remark but it was done now. I felt strangely elated. I couldn’t wait till someone asked how I was doing. My chance soon came when Veronica came towards me.
“How’re ya doing?” Veronica asked.
“Well, I just found out I’m going to lose my job. You probably will too. And my cat died two days ago. I’m devastated by it. How are you?”
“Well, I knew the layoffs were coming. Where have you been? Hell, you hardly do anything anyway. Get over your cat. It’s just a cat. Good luck job hunting.”
I stood there stunned. I didn’t have that feeling of power or relief. Instead I felt terrible. I don’t care if it is just a cat, I loved him. I’m fifty-five now how am I going to find a job. I didn’t like how that went at all.
Suddenly Kim walked towards me.
I said, “How are you doing?”
“Oh fine. And you?”
“I’m fine too.”
I would call my best friend Cynthia when I got home and talk to her about my cat.