What Makes For A Bad Day?

They day started swimmingly. I rose as the sun did, made myself some Russian Caravan tea with honey and soy– did a shit– checked my email– chatted to Mr. England. Then sauntered out to greet the day as a gainfully employed pastel-pink head.

The day continued smoothly enough– until it came time for morning tea.

Part of my new job requires I prepare morning tea for the entire office. We then sit around, sip espressos, eat bickies and talk shit. It’s lovely, really.

Though there is one woman in the office whom I can tell, already, doesn’t really like me.

I’d love to say that this kind of situation is an anomaly to me– but that would be a fib. A big one. This happens a lot. Actually. All the fucking time.

And for various reasons, I suppose.

In this instance, my guess, so far– is loneliness.

My sister, rather intuitively, pointed out to me– some years ago now– that as a person I don’t really strike people as being a lonely old soul– though I am. And as such, people have a tendency to overlook me when it comes to the delicate art of making people feel welcome, or involved, accepted, or a part of the tribe.

This conversation came as a result of a novel writing workshop I’d done that afternoon as part of the Masters I was completing at the time in Writing. I’d just moved to Melbourne from Tokyo. I’d just left my fiance. A language, a culture, a really cool apartment, and a big group of friends– I had nothing in Melbourne. I didn’t really know anyone and academically, I was in way over my head. Most of the students in my course were 10-15 years older than me (which is always a preference of mine) but I’d not been existing in an English speaking culture, as they had, for nearly half a decade– and it showed. I hadn’t read half the books they’d read. I didn’t know what the Brownlow Medal Award was. Nor did I really understand much about AFL. So I felt left out a lot of the time. Plus I was still in the rather nasty habit of translating everything in my head in to Japanese. A lonely pursuit in any Australian city.

I grew very introspective during this period, and left the tutorial that afternoon in a pool of tears as I traipsed home through the rain. Fitting, I thought. What a fucking shit of a day.

I came home and drank a bottle of wine and smoked four joints in the course of an hour or two. I had been feeling miserable– all the time– and just wanted some semblance of respite. If only to be spent alone, in my room, out of it.

Just a breather. A break. You know? A chance to find my feet. Catch my breath. Build a life.

But it never came.

The feeling never arrived.

I phoned my sister that afternoon as I’d grown tired of all the messy, bloody crying.

And she said something I’d not thought of before–

“Mate, no one invites you to the pub because you seem like someone who’s probably got a handful of invites… You know? You don’t seem vulnerable, despite the fact I know you are. But that’s only because you’re my sister. I wouldn’t otherwise. You don’t really let on.”

I liked what she said. Because it was true. I don’t.

I’ve since made a concerted effort to make myself more vulnerable when in need of support. I think I’ve done an alright job of this. But it’s not so much about what it said– I’ve found– it’s more about how you sit, how you walk, how you hold your face. And how small you are. Have you ever noticed that? Small people always seem more vulnerable. I’m not a very small person. My shoulders are broader than most blokes I know. I think this adds insult to injury. Because even when I’m sick I don’t really look sick. I might look shit, but never sick.

And you’ve gotta look the part, right?

I walked to work today with this kind of thinking in the back of my mind– Make them like you Lex. Make them see your vulnerability. Be humble. Be helpful. Make them like you.

So it came as somewhat of a surprise when Ms. Lonely bailed me up in the kitchen after morning tea and demanded to know who had made the coffee.

Of course she knew I’d made the coffee– but this is all part of how she interacts with the world– it’s aggressive. Fuck knows why… Maybe being passive got her in to trouble once. Or maybe she doesn’t even know she does it. Maybe she’s so unaware she actually thinks the inquiry may be some sort of charming gesture. Who knows… But apparently my coffee is shit. Much too strong. Awful, really.

I had a wee chuckle to myself after she’d left because this is, after all, the same woman who had informed me last week that she hardly recognised me when I arrived as I usually wear so much make-up and today was not.

Right.

Thanks.

Noted.

Awesome.

Then later today, for one reason or another, we had another “tea break,” though this time with cake instead of biscuits. There was a fire drill as we all grew seated to imbibe– and as such– I thought it might be nice to heat the milk after the fact so as not to have to consume tepid perculated coffee– a much harder item to re-heat. I figured.

This clearly was yet another “elementary error” on my part.

There’s an older man that works for this firm. He likes to spout big words at me intermittently and enjoys challenging me to define their meanings. I usually do a pretty good job (as I do care–deeply– for words) and I had thought, up until this point, that he kind of liked me. He’s wonderfully well-travelled, with a penchant for drinking Liberian whiskey in his lunch breaks. He’s a raging, lonely alcoholic, clearly, but I never seem to mind the lonely old ruddy bastards when they’re good with words– which he is. Really good.

Upon learning that the milk had been heated he turned to me and said;

“Did you heat the milk!?”

In a loud, bemoaning voice.

The kind that warrants unqualified attention.

You know? Big. Huge. Grand. Rude.

“Ar, yes. Yes I did heat the milk.”

I smiled as I said this.

a) To establish the degree of seriousness with which I was going to take the proceeding conversation.

b) To soften him. And;

c) Because he’s tone had actually made me kind of nervous.

I don’t trust lonely people.

And I can sniff ’em a mile away.

Because I am one.

But I was raised to never make my problem someone elses. I was raised to o stand up for the underdog. To look out for the lonely ones. To make certain that I made someone’s day, everyday. This really was an important part of my education growing up. Especially for my mother. It mattered to her that she raised kind kids. And we are. All three of us, I think, are really kind people.

I still don’t trust lonely people though.

I don’t trust what peoples loneliness will drive them to do.

Not for a second.

And I especially don’t trust them in the work place.

Because the work place is where the ugliest of shit rears it’s little head– through the course of time– and whereby, everyone is always sober enough to see it for the sad sack of shit that it is– loneliness.

Exposed.

“Why would you heat the milk!?” He continued…

I explained to him the part where we were to evacuate the building, and the part where the coffee had grown tepid, and the part where it was perhaps no big deal, an experiment, an idea I had that didn’t necessarily need to be repeated. That I was new. That I was learning.

But he wouldn’t let up.

“Why would you heat the milk!? We never heat the milk! Who here enjoys heated milk!?”

The Japanese students at the table did what all Japanese would do– they kept their heads down– waiting for the altercation to pass.

Ms. Lonely from the kitchen, however, was in there like Flynn.

“I do not like heated milk either!”

I looked at my two remaining allies, as I surveyed Ms. Lonely Pants’ tea cup– She drinks herbal tea– like her vote fucking counts.  I then lower my head as I can feel it coming. My vulnerability. Loads of the shit. Just bubbling up to the surface. It may seem silly but it really made me want to cry.

And for a number of reasons.

I sat there, with my head bowed, biting my lip, thinking of Roller Derby– so as not to let show I’m actually just as lonely as anyone else at the table.

Really.

I tried not to think about how long it had been since I’d really held someone. Connected with someone. Hugged someone even, just in passing– A while.

A good mate of mine– I did my writing degree with down in Melbourne– would often say, “You know monkeys die if they’re not held for extended periods of time!?” She was a psych major and I always remember her saying that anytime I feel too vulnerable. I find it comforting. So I reminded myself of this as I stared blankly at the heated milk, the source of all chaos.

Fucking hell…

I thought of her again, so as to buy some time on the tear-front– I thought of how much she’d laugh as I relayed to her this anecdote– she drinking white, myself drinking red. I wondered if maybe she might be able to find me a job working for her, somehow, somewhere… I even began to wonder about her recent test results– Her health– and if she’d managed to forage her way in to the Bikram yoga studio in Fitzroy, yet– I really was trying  to go somewhere else.

I then turned to my two allies– A middle-aged British woman whom reminds me of Annie Lennox for some reason– and my Irish mate– both of whom had seemingly grown silent with shock since last I’d cared to notice. Their heads were also now bowed, looking elsewhere.

I was on my own.

Great.

And I really do care for this job– I’d like to keep it.

So my decision as to how to respond, in this instance has to be really, really pragmatic.

It has to be smart.

Contain yourself Lex.

Don’t take it personally Lex.

Come now… don’t remind yourself of the other coffee comment and the one about your make-up… just keep it together, hey. Just till home time. Come now…

As he continued…

“I’d like to take a vote!” He announced.

“Hey listen, is this really necessary?” I intercepted as softly as I knew how.

“What you’re experiencing right now is change. And it’s not a big deal. I vow never ever to heat the milk again. Ok?”

He slammed down his mug and said,

“This conversation ceases now.”

Which made me think he was a real fuckwit. The kind that always has to have the final word. Even when they know someone’s already done a stellar job of summising the anecdote for them.

My charmed Irish compadre– the one who had previously grown mute– came to help me wash up in the kitchen soon there after.

“Are you ok? That was a bit rude, I thought…”

“A bit? That was really fucking rude.” I whispered. “Never mind.”

“Tell you what… Do you want to go run some errands?”

Bless.

My favorite thing to do (in any job) is to run errands. Give me a CBD, or a car, or some mailbox keys, or something to deliver or collect anytime of day– I’m your girl. I’m fast. I’m efficient. And I really like getting out of the fucking office.

And he knows this about me already. Which makes me like him a lot.

So off I doddled. To run some errands. Thank you Ireland.

Noticing a missed call, I phoned a friend to see what he wanted and to relay to him the specifics of my rather ill-fated coffee capabilities.

I think it worth a mention here that I really do pride myself on my hospitality skills. I really do. Making lovely things for my friends and family to consume is by far my greatest joy. I adore spoiling people. And I am good at it. And even made a career out of it for many years– till I cottoned on to the fact I was a morning person and not at all inclined to be closing up some swanky cocktail bar at 4am while all the suits saunter out, dragging their coked up asses in to the night…

It didn’t suit me in the end.

So now, when someone disses my ability to make a fucking cuppa– I tend to get upset.

My friend was hilarious. A barista himself, he understands perfectly how much I care about all things culinary.

“Oh shit mate. Sounds like he wants to fuck you.”

I laughed.

“Pardon?”

“It just sounds like he wants to fuck you.”

“But what about the other lady?”

“The make-up lady? Oh she wants to fuck you too.”

I laughed again.

“But I’ve been thinking lately that that’s a kind of defeatest way to approach things. Ya know? Like I can’t just go through life thinking everyone that hates me wants to fuck me…”

“Why not?”

“Because it can’t be true.”

“But it is. Lex. Trust me. It is.”

I laughed all the way to the printers this afternoon after ending that phone call.

Funny bugger, my friend.

By the time I returned to the office Mr. Grumpy had left.

Ms. Lonely, however, was still hot on my heels.

“Did you go to the printers?” She demanded to know.

“Yep. Sure did. Printed out a whole bunch of stock shots from the past month. Would you like to see?”

She flicked through the images hurridly, dog-tailing some of the corners, roughing everything up a bit. I tried to look un-bothered by this, rude as I found it to be.

“Would you like to make a selection for the poster, perhaps?” I asked her. Deflecting from the fact I kind of wanted to punch her in the head. Or drag her out to a local bar, get her drunk, and get to the bottom of what was really making my coffee so bitter.

“No, I’m just so tired,” she said.

“Big day?”

“No, I’m just feeling really run down. I didn’t want to be here today.”

“Sure.”

“Anyway. Bye.” She said.

As I gathered my bag and zipped up my jacket, I reminded myself that I was ending the day exactly as I’d begun it…

I can’t really do much more than that now can I?

x.

“I don’t consider myself a pessimist. I think of a pessimist as someone who is waiting for it to rain. And I feel soaked to the skin.” – L.C.

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Comments
6 Responses to “What Makes For A Bad Day?”
  1. The Sister says:

    I like this one, my favourite so far.

    v.x

  2. Nova says:

    Your sister is smart. I think I’ve said to you before I often imagined you to be out all the time, being social, going PLACES. It’s ok that you don’t, or aren’t and I know better now. Loneliness makes us do all manner of things. N xo.

    • I don’t know hey. I think everyone thinks everyone else is doing interesting things all the time– and they ain’t. Facebook is good at making people feel bad about this I feel. I am what I am. Blah, blah, blah.

  3. Greg says:

    So solution…..next time this happens – give “cranky pants” and “thomas the piss tank engine” a BIG HUG – solves your missing hugs issue and rams it right up the grumble bums at the same time!!!

    Problem solved…..NEXT!!

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