Today's blog entry is provided by Mr Actonbell, who, at the behest of Acton, has a agreed to share a story from his workplace with you, her faithful readers.
Apropos of the story that follows, I must first mention that the company for which I work plans to offer, in the near future, a course entitled “Dealing with Difficult People.” I will allow you to decide whether such an offering is merited.
Recently, I was sitting at my desk when a former coworker, to whom I shall assign the nom de blog, Autumnal Chicken, passed by. Apparently feeling the need to engage in clever repartee, she remarked, “You're still here!” In response, I observed, “So are you.” Feeling, with come justification, that she had failed to make her point, AC added, “But you're older than I am.” Now, I have known (of) AC for all of the 26 years I have worked the company, having started there immediately after graduating from college. Even at the time of my first acquaintance with AC, she had long since passed from her vernal poultry phase. Indeed, I knew that AC was considerably older than I.
Somewhat offended, I stated, “I'm 47. How old, may I ask, are you, AC?” To this, AC, her face contorted in disbelief, mumbled, “I'm going to be 60 shortly.” At this point I expected that, once she regained her composure, AC would offer some form of apology. She could, for example, have blamed my prematurely gray hair for her mistake. Instead, she explained, “You just have such an old face.”
By this time, all of my coworkers within a certain radius were listening attentively. With, I thought, a fairly successful attempt at humor, my nearest neighbor added, “And he's crotchety, too.” (My estimation of success owing to the feeling that he was laughing at AC, rather than with her.) For some reason, this remark caused AC to reflect on her own burden of patient forbearance as she replied, “Tell me about it. Sometimes I think that 'Dealing with Difficult People' class is just for me.”
In some future retelling of this story, I will relate that I replied with the following observation: “AC, your tact is surpassed only by your keen sense of irony.” I must confess, unfortuately, that I was actually rendered speechless.
* title supplied by Actonbell