09 November 2014

The Curious Passerby

When I got home I said to the wife, “George Vine went nuts before I did.” I was excited and delighted and barely even kidding around. I had just walked right by ole George and not only did he not acknowledge me, he never stopped talking — to himself. And he was having quite an animated conversation.

Time was that Georgie thought I was pretty close to being off my nut. He even suggested that I might want to “start talking to someone.” Best of all he offered himself as  someone I could “sit down with anytime.” I never did so much eye rolling in my life as when he said that. Imagine the gall of the man.

See George and I were co-workers at the time. I was always barely hanging onto my position and he was a real hotshot. I’d bolt out of work come quitting time and he’d always burn the midnight oil and come in on weekends.

I was having trouble at home then and it was spilling over into work and I can well imagine that people were speculating when I would get the boot. I was moody and sometimes took out my frustrations on people at work and George was so involved in everything that he took notice. One day I had made the mistake of confiding in George about an argument I’d had with the boss. This was a boss who most everyone hated and wanted out, so I felt pretty safe bitching to a co-worker about him. I was amazed and disappointed when George took the boss’ side and suggested maybe I take some time off. I didn’t talk to him for awhile after that.

We never fought or argued but it was pretty darn clear that he didn't hold me in very high esteem. It can hurt a little bit to know that someone you work with thinks so little of you, especially someone so highly thought of. But at the same time I knew that my work was adequate -- sometimes superior -- and I wasn't actually stealing money by showing up everyday like I did. I got along just fine with most of the rest of the crew at work and they with me. No I wasn't the most popular person at work -- I'd say George was a candidate for that honor -- but I wasn't despised either.

Eventually I left that job before the powers that be could drive me out and George was real nice to me whenever I saw him for years after. He acted like we were old friends. I always figured, what the hell George never meant anyone any harm and you had to give him credit for working his tail off and caring so much about others. I never knew a man to be so diligent so conscientious and so devoid of ego. Ole George never wanted any recognition, no pats on the banks no testimonials, nothing. He just wanted the whole operation to run smoothly and everyone to be happy. I admired the hell out of him at the same time that I found a bit too much. It’s easy to respect but hard to like someone who such a damn hard worker. Especially since I was just doing enough to get by — a day’s work for a day’s pay was my motto.

Truth is I’ve not spent very much time these past few years thinking about George or that job. Things at home are fine now, in fact they’re fantastic, and I’ve been in a job I love for several years. Why think about darker times? Those days seem long past now and when I reminisce I’m actually far more likely to find myself thinking about my youth or young adult years.

Still I get a chuckle thinking about George chattering away to himself. And the way he looked! He’s aged a dozen or more years since I worked with him. His hair is a weird combination of black, gray and white and his face is lined with deep wrinkles. His clothes were rumpled and he was stooped over as he shuffled down the street. He’s lost weight and George has never been a guy with any to spare. Working so hard must have caught up with him. The mind and the body have both gone and I wonder does he think all the hard work was worth it what with his facing old age prematurely. Then again if his mind is shot he may not be thinking lucidly about any such thing.

Mind you I’m not taking any sick satisfaction over Georgie’s condition — whatever the hell it may be —I don’t wish ill to any man or woman least of all one I used to labor with. It’s just ironic is all. Here I am mentally sharp as ever and a regular runner in top top shape and feeling reborn in a fantastic career and there he is….

Well I just had to write about it. Part of life you might say. Funny how things work out. Lot of the time you just never know.

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