Books for Everyone!

6 February 2023

The Trail Behind Me

There are times when a person uses another person as a weapon, a device, to get back at someone else. It’s hideous, the manipulation of a human being by another human being, but it goes on, and has gone on for millennia. Some families revolve around that sick axis. And there are workplaces where this demented dynamic runs the business. It’s actually the preferred business model.

Currently, this sick stratagem is playing itself out on the world stage, where the play is supposedly the thing, but I’m looking away from the thing, the play, all of it.

I’ve got my life to live, and every day, every second, every minute of it matters more to me than the inevitable implosion of bitter, hate-filled power-mongers eating each other.

There was a time in my work-life when I was being pitted by a rather kind but also hurtful man against his daughter. In this “work environment”, I was the underling of the daughter. Her father worked in a support capacity removed from our duties, and he did everything he could to show his progeny that I was superior to her.

It was extremely uncomfortable for me to witness and feel the hostility, toward his own daughter, coming out of this man in the form of compliments to me. And I was deeply in need of recognition, of acceptance, of fatherly love, here on earth. Instead of cottoning to his courtesies of me, I removed myself, as best I could, from the line of fire between father and daughter.

That nicety on my part didn’t earn me any points with the reviled daughter. In truth, she was a spoiled brat whom her father had spoiled and then couldn’t face up to his own errors. The errors of his ways were right there, with him, every day, because he’d finagled this federal job for this adult child whom he believed couldn’t make it on her own. And there I was, parentless, making it on my own, squeezing two nickels together and stitching together a happy semblance of survival.

A twisted mess is what was going on between father and daughter who were working, against one another, at the same federal agency. Me, I was merely collateral damage who got in the way of their unfriendly fire.

This collateral damage became a hand-grenade that backfired when I attended a luncheon, given in my honor, by a supervisor and his two underlings. They were rewarding me for several months of hard work, typing and word-processing extremely sensitive materials for them. Back in those days, between four eyes really meant between 2 eyes + 2 eyes.

The luncheon took place on a Friday, at a very swank restaurant; and it extended beyond, well beyond the 45-minutes allotted for the noontime meal. This supervisor left the restaurant to return to the office, but he assured me and the two other employees that we could stay longer, and chat: our leave would be covered.

Their leave was covered; mine was not. My supervisor was out of town that Friday; and the person who took over for her was none other than the spoiled-brat daughter who, by that time, truly despised me, simply for existing. When I returned — late — to my desk, I was informed by her that she’d had to complete the time-sheet, since it was a Friday, and hand it into The Big Boss Lady.

I’d been given 3 hours of Leave Without Pay.

I guess I ought to have been thankful. The dinging of my measly salary could have been AWOL, Away Without Leave. I stared at this girl to whom I’d become a nemesis, largely though the petty potshots taken at her by her own father via giving me effusive praise and compliments.

This pampered child was a toady who was doing all that she could to not only get ahead, but to stab everyone else in the back in the process. I think she enjoyed the surreptitious slander and furtive defamation of others. She was precisely what her father said she was, or had helped to make of her. She didn’t merit my sympathy, but she’d earned a crack at receiving my honesty.

“I’m just wondering,” I, La Bête Noire, asked this girl. “If you put in that paperwork to suck up to Big Boss Lady, or because you dislike me so much?”

My question wasn’t answered. This simpering girl, overflowing with a sense of self-entitlement, didn’t think I was entitled to the truth. I knew it anyway. Her motives were both: kissing up to move up the ladder, and placing a blot on my escutcheon of government service.

Those 3 hours of LWOP served as a catalyst for me to rise even higher, and get the heck out of that abominably low place in which this equally low person reigned supreme.

The list is a trail long of other places, just like that pit of resentment, that I’ve met since that time in my life. I look back upon that wintry Friday afternoon as a lesson to myself, to always remember:

Hatred does eat up a person willing to go with that vile flow, all the way to where malice and odium end up, on a trail I left far behind me.