It started fairly innocuously. After a mere six weeks at my
new job I am promoted and become the manager of my new colleagues. This causes
some consternation amongst some, many of whom have worked at the company for
years. Stuff them. Empathy is not one of my ‘big things’. My counterpart in
another department is also bumped-up. After a couple of weeks he feels we
should go for drinks after work and ‘discuss things’.
For the first hour or so things are fine. We discuss work
like normal people. And then things get a bit ‘not my area’.
Counterpart: I’m so committed to this company. That’s why
I’m staying here. My wife is moving away you see. For her work. Taking our
daughter with her. For her job. She’s doing really well.
Me: [Unsure of how we got here] Oh. Mmm.
Counterpart: I’m not worried. They’re my life. I know she’ll
Counterpart: [Showing me pictures of his daughter on his
phone] It’s all for her.
Me: Totally. [I glance at a photo of him and his daughter
looking happy] Erm. Are you sure you’re making the right decision? I’m quite a
stubborn man myself and looking back on some things…
Counterpart: I know she’ll be loyal. She isn’t ‘that sort of
Poor bastard I think to myself.
Counterpart: We had another baby you know. Before. He didn’t
Oh for fuck’s SAKE I think to myself.
Counterpart: He lived a month and a half. We named him.
He tells me the name. He shows me pictures on his phone. The
child is full of tubes. He looks like a fucking cyborg I think to myself.
Jesus Christ, I think myself. I just fancied a drink. I
didn’t know I’d have to deal with some 'dead kid and impending marriage break-up' nonsense.
Counterpart: We haven’t slept together in two years though
but it’s not that sort of relationship.
Oh for God's sake I think to myself.
Me: Anyway my bus is in ten minutes so…
Counterpart: Oh mine too! We get the same one!
Me: [unaware of this] Splendid.
He tries to hug me when he reaches his stop. We settle
on a firm handshake