This piece is not meant to represent any specific person, place, or event. It’s a compilation of conversations and experiences I’ve had in many different places. I’ve written one experience here to represent many. Any similarities to specific people, places, or events is a mere coincidence.
“If you’re so miserable, why don’t you just do something about it? Everyday you come in here and you just complain. Just get another job already,” Sandy said.
It was late. We stood near our counters. The department stood empty. Yellow track lighting glared above us. The chrome counters glistened. Bright shades of lipstick waited in their black heavy plastic units, ready for the next day’s clients. Her counter always looked great. I was in the process of dusting mine with an old powder brush.
“Wow. OK black,” I said.
She gave be a blank stare.
“Pot calling the kettle black.”
“I’m not miserable.”
“You complain as much as I do.”
“I don’t complain everyday. And I don’t complain about my job. I’m working through bigger life goals. And I’m doing something about them.”
“OK. Got it,” I said, a little too loudly and too aggressively. But I was pissed and all I wanted to say was, Fuck you. You absolutely complain as much as I do. And when that’s the only thing you can think of to say, you walk away. Conversation over.
Her voice rose the further away I got. “I’m just not telling you about them.”
My eyes grew wider, in what I can imagine was my mother’s, I’m going to silently punish you face. “OK, I got it, Sandy.”
“Well if you’re so miserable don’t take it out on me,” She turned away.
Which I should’ve seen coming. A few weeks back I told her that a co-worker took some products from her counter. She told a mutual friend of ours. Our mutual friend told me. I did not know she already knew, that she had been the source of the information. I told her, because I thought I was doing her a favor. She flipped out. Completely and totally melted down. I was shocked. It’s not like I had betrayed state secrets. This wasn’t the Pentagon for Christ’s sake.
Sandy seethed. “I told Alison that in confidence. I can’t believe she told anyone. Who else did she tell?”
“No one, I’m sure. She only told me because we’re all friends. Listen, I thought I was doing you a favor. I thought we were friends. I would want to know. Jesus Sandy. What’s the big deal?”
“That’s fine. It’s not you. I just know I can never trust her again.”
“OK, you’re overreacting.”
“I don’t think so.”
I walked away from her counter. Fallout would come. She’d confront Alison and punish us both. I was too chicken to tell Alison I’d told Sandy. I can’t remember if she’d told me not to say anything.
Sandy confronted Alison. Alison, indirectly, communicated to me, she knew I’d told. In the end, it seemed, it blew over. We shared laughs, covered each other’s counters while the other went on break. In general, we enjoyed an ease and camaraderie one needs when working together in about a 500 square foot area.
Until last night. Sandy’s sanctimonious direction to “find another job if you’re so miserable,” revealed she hadn’t let it go. Her barb, “I’m doing something about it. I’m just not telling you,” was a clear message. It was meant to impugn my character. I can’t be trusted and I’m too afraid or too lazy to find another job.
Sandy got me when I least expected it. So yes, she won. I know that revenge can feel sweet in the moment. I hope she enjoyed it because the effects are final. Maybe she just wanted it that way. Alison’s the only ally I have left. I plan on protecting that with my life. No one can survive that floor on her own. You’re bait.