“Hey, you doing okay?”
I asked the maintenance man in my apartment complex.
“Yes. I am just trying to be professional.” He growled out as he pushed the garbage in disposal that housed garbage from the many units in the complex. Perhaps I imagined it but he seemed to grip the long wooden stick a little harder and pushed at the garbage a little more violently.
I had noticed a change in his demeanor a few weeks earlier. His sunny disposition and jovial greetings had been replaced with a brusque no-eye contact nod. I had decided to go ahead and just ask him outright what was going on with him.
“Oh? Really? Were you unprofessional before?” I pressed on curious what he would say.
He half turned his body away, warding off the question that demanded an explanation that perhaps he wasn’t ready to give.
“Well the other day, after I said hello to you guys…” mean myself and a group of women I knew “.. I drove away in the golf cart and I heard you all laughing. I think you were laughing at me.”
Whaaaaa??? Really? I was at a loss. I had not expected that response.
Wracking my brain for the particular incident and coming up with nothing, I decided to respond anyway. I figured it must have been the group of women I stood at the bus stop with waiting for the school bus to arrive. We often regaled ourselves with various stories of our children’s antiques and I was almost sure the incident he must have been referring had to have happened at the bus stop.
“Oh! Well, I don’t remember the day you are referring to but I can assure you we were not laughing at you. Your name has never come up and I am sad you have been walking around with these things going on in your head.”
“Well anyway, I still want to be professional.” The determined set to his jaw line made it clear he had arrived at this conclusion long ago and he was not going to abandon it anytime soon. Realizing the nebulosity of pursuing the conversation further I bid him goodbye and walked away wondering whether he would keep up his professionalism.
He did. As a matter of fact since then, he has only nodded in my and the other women’s direction without so much as a hello.
At first I found it strange but later I realized there were times when I would be going about my business and would suddenly realize he had just walked by and I didn’t even see him. How is it that someone I had always made a point of saying hello to had suddenly jelled into the background with the flora and fauna of the environment? How had he gone from being such a sunny spot of my goings on, to a faint blip in the radar of my activities?
Something changed that day. It was as though my mind recognizing the change in our friendship decided to reorganize the role he played in my life. As saddened as I was by his decision, I knew I had to respect it.
When someone is determined to hear what they want to hear or to conclude what they want to; it takes a huge amount of effort on their part to change their perspective. I knew I couldn’t change his view of the world. He was married to the fact that he had been wronged and the course of action he had taken was working for him. Not every person can be convinced to change their point of view. There are times that simply leaving well alone is the best course of action to take.
My bathroom sink had to be fixed last week and he had to fix it. He was still very professional. I was very happy to say hello and I received the grumbled response and respectfully left him to his business.
Some things are just not meant to be fixed.
- Compelling Behavior (areyoupayingattention.com)