As Usual

“So that’s it then?”
“Yep.”
“Okay, thanks for letting me know.”
“No problem.”

He hung up. I kept driving. Fighting the tears welling from behind my eyes. I felt close to her, and out of nowhere, she just gave up. Gave up on us. Gave up on her friendships with us. Gave up on working with us. May e she gave up on herself. I sent her one last text.

“Hey lady. I miss you. Hope you’re doing okay.”

It was all I had to say. What else was there? Having worried about her for a few days, wondering why she wasn’t showing to work. Why she wouldn’t answer calls. It was painful to think of the worst possible scenarios. Now, knowing she had just abandoned us like she did, I wasn’t even angry or upset. Just hurt. Were we not worth the courtesy? Were we not worth the call it took to say she was done with us all? What had we ever done? What had I done?

It was like someone was dead. Their absence is apparent. She was an infectious person. Her smile was welcoming. Her demeanor friendly and kind. She never seemed the type to do this kind of thing. But at the same time, they weren’t dead. They were alive and you had to figure out how to behave around them if you encountered them. Were you allowed to say hello? Were you allowed to be friendly? Would there be some kind of hostility? Were they angry about something they never talked about? There were so many questions, and all you could do was wonder.

There was no closure. It was just over. Like a bad breakup without the romance.

He and I discussed it most of our free time, when traffic was slow and customers occupied themselves. We agreed we weren’t mad about her ditching work. I wasn’t mad at all. I was sad I probably wouldn’t see her again. Sad she might not speak to me, just because of where I worked. Sad that perhaps I wasn’t worth anything to her. Upset I had emotionally invested so much into a person only to be abandoned. He was angry of what he didn’t know. It was the typical reaction of a person who didn’t want to be sad to turn to anger. He just had wanted to know if she was okay. Things seemed fine only days before. He couldn’t understand it. We determined that we could only care from a distance and wonder if she would come around.He warned me not to get my hopes up. I told him I was sure I had forgotten how.

This was why I was warned not to make friends at work. I vowed I never would again, knowing it was a lie. I cared about people. Compassion is kinda my thing. Maybe too much my thing.

All I could hope was my last text would leave things open. To subtly let her know that some of us cared. That just because she didn’t like working there didn’t mean we would be angry. We care more about people than money, and just because we were corporate sellouts didn’t mean we completely sold out. We just wanted to get out alive together. We hoped to get out alive together. Now we were one short.

He called to say she wasn’t coming back, but he heard she was okay from someone else. I would go to work the next day. Filling in for her absence, and ever so aware of it. Life had to keep going. Business as usual.

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