Yesterday our boss told us he wishes B. and I weren’t speaking, because he thinks if we weren’t talking to each other, maybe we wouldn’t notice all of the problems in our work place.
“Betsy, stop sharing your music. Just put headphones on, and don’t talk to him any more.”
“So, like, kind of an angry, hostile silence? Is that what we should go for?”
“YES! That’s exactly what I want. And, by the way, I’m coming in on Thursday especially to have a beer with you guys."
We’re having a beer after work on Pink Slip Day, the day when some number of us will be laid off -- the rumor is 20 percent. As people on the bottom of the pile, seniority-wise, B. and I have both been trying to figure out whether it would be good or bad to get the slip, but we’ve both been reassured that we’re not getting one by people who also claim not to know what's going on.
They've been saying, “No, you’re fine, no need to worry,” and winking.
“What’s with all the winking lately,” I ask B. “Does that mean they’re kidding when they say we’re not getting laid off, or is the winking more like crossing your fingers behind your back, meaning you don’t really have to tell the truth?”
“I know! I just think it’s creepy to get winked at.”
Our boss walks away and B. starts describing his latest disappointing blind date, when my phone rang. It was the person at the front desk who’s super loud, kind of screechy.
“COME DOWNSTAIRS. SOMEONE IS HERE TO SEE YOU.”
I always try to do that thing of talking quieter, to see if it will work.
“Um, who is it?” Because outside of our drop-in hours, we tend to see people by appointment only.
"JUST COME DOWN HERE," she yells. "IT’S YOUR FRIEND!"
I’m pretty sure I don’t have any friends who would just drop in at my office, so I ask for a name.
"NO NAME, BUT SHE HAS SOMETHING PRETTY. JUST GET DOWN HERE."
B. is listening in, because her voice carries well outside the earpiece of the phone. “Let’s go! I wanna see what this is about. Something pretty!”
So we walk downstairs together, and there’s a young woman I had helped previously, holding a vase of flowers. She hands me the flowers, and I start to say what I’m required to say, “Oh, I’m sorry, I can’t accept these!” But she gives me a big hug, and when I lean in towards her, she whispers, “I know. I told them you were my friend and it was your birthday coming up.”
It seems wrong ethically to accept gifts, but it also seems mean-spirited to turn away a bouquet of flowers from a grateful person, so I accept them. They're gorgeous, and made my day.