Monday, April 7, 2014

The Change in Him and That in Me

Mr. Scott at work was always negative. And I mean always. Rain or shine, morning or night, he served up turd sandwiches like Pete Sampras. "Nice shirt. Think you're cool now?" he would jab. Or, "Going home early?" in a loud enough voice for all in the office to hear, including the boss. Sometimes the words he said weren't offensive, just the tone was. "You're not watching Game of Thrones?" he would inquire with the identical tone and vitriol of a man confronting his unfaithful spouse. He followed with gas on the fire, a thudding and juvenile command, "You should!"
I began to steer clear of him, to avoid social gatherings because of him, to passive aggressively engage the people on both sides of him, and to never ever initiate conversation directly with him. Though, I one-day found myself drawn back to him, intrigued by the allure of beating him (whatever the hell that means, if such a thing were even possible). Terms like "a taste of his own medicine" and "serve him right" occasionally popped into my head when I was near him.

If truth be told, I imagined myself a guerrilla warrior protecting the sanctity of my homeland, in this case mine being the air around me devoid of his polluted ways. He enraged us all, often ensnaring us in his traps, its steel jaws of our own anger and stress invisible next to the prospect of making him feel worse than we did. It was a black hole of bad juju.

Then one day it all stopped. He started smiling more and complimenting others, me included. At first I wondered suspiciously if he wanted something from me, or if this was some new game or tactic like the angler fish's dangling forehead protrusion, an evolutionary design formed to enable a closer strike. 

I stayed leery for weeks, but his kindness persisted. He was dependable in his benevolence, a steel beam of good-nature. 

What happened next was more appalling to me than any of the blood boiling jabs that his apparent evil twin of yesteryear had doled out. What happened next was I found myself starting to become the old him, to fill the shoes that were infinitely more useful when left unfilled. I hated myself for doing it, but something compelled me.

I mocked his hair one day and his shoes the next. I turned down a lunch invitation, then an after work drink. Wanting in some sickly misplaced sense of revenge to see anger in his eyes, all I saw was melancholy, and like an airborne virus I instantly contracted it. 

But over drinks at a company party I learned a great deal about him, the places he'd been, the things he'd seen (much of it bleak and depressing), and I instantly knew how little I had learned up until then about perceiving the world and the souls populating it. Not until I know myself wholly and truly do I ever have the right to judge others. And then, I suspect, I will have lost the dastardly urge to.

So, what changed in Mr. Scott? What helped him turn the corner, to catalyze a metamorphosis of positivity? The answer wasn't given over drinks that night. Puzzle pieces started to reveal what led up to that catalytic moment, though, and they showed enough of the picture for me to understand. Enough to know not to ask any more. Enough to appreciate the missing question of why he changed. Enough to feel peace in simply letting the end result -- his change and mine -- run through me like a spiritual elixir, a soul-change in which there is no reversing.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Interesting! I try to live by a motto of "everyone is cool if you give them enough time." I think that really gets into understanding a person. I wonder what instantly changed him though rather than having him come around gradually

    1. Great motto, man. Yeah, I guess that's a mystery but mysteries I guess don't always need to be solved. Sometimes change just is.

  3. Nice one. I try to remember my worst days before I push someone away or judge them. Easier said than done of course. I too am wondering what the sudden shift was? And what cause the main character to take on the negative roles?

    1. I think I look at the main character taking on the negative roles in two ways. First, it could be a yin and yang thing where that newfound positive energy had to be balanced out somehow. Second, I can see his misplaced sense of justice urging him to do it.


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