Someone told me a story about walking down a street in an unfamiliar area (in a foreign country) and becoming worried when she thought that she was being followed. So just to be sure, she decided to cross the street – and the suspected trailer crossed over as well.
She quickened her steps, and glancing surreptitiously behind her, she noticed that her new shadow did the same and was actually closing the distance between them. There weren’t a lot of people around and she feared being pounced on at any minute, so she decided to do what anyone who felt threatened would do.
She went crazy. She stopped suddenly, wheeled around and began talking – to herself – so that anyone who was passing could clearly hear her. She also threw in some curse words for good measure because that’s just what you do. It was an inspired response to a possible threat because the probable attacker passed her and kept going, since “crazy” was apparently not what he wanted to deal with that day.
Now I’m not a person who loosely throws around the word “crazy” – just like some people will tell you I don’t like to use the word “ugly” without just cause. But I wondered whether it had all been in her head – and that the person hadn’t really been following her. Whatever the case, I never thought that I’d have a reason or opportunity to see whether it would work for me.
But that day did come. There’s a bit of a back story here. A former employee had complained that he was having trouble with a certain individual who he crossed paths with every day as he waited to gain entry to our workplace. The problem apparently developed when the person sought his support for a particular action and didn’t receive it.
After that, he remained aggrieved and whenever he saw him, he would speak at the top of his lungs, fabricating issues about my employee as he went along. Everyone who witnessed the almost daily display agreed that there was something not quite right with this guy, even as he busied himself with sweeping and his various chores.
Push eventually came to shove and I was forced to speak to the person who kept him gainfully employed. I learnt that his employer considered him to be bi-polar and was trying to keep him occupied and out of trouble. I said that I wasn’t so sure that it was working because my employee seemed on the verge of calling out the cavalry.
He promised to speak to him and I hoped that would have been the end of it. Not long after – probably a couple of days later, I was walking with my daughter in the parking lot of his workplace. I saw him, but continued to move quickly. He stopped what he was doing and rushed over to me. I continued walking. He kept pace with me. Seeing that I really wasn’t paying him any attention, he said quickly that he wanted to talk to me about a person that I had working for me.
I quickly wheeled around, opened my eyes wide (for effect) and told him (in no uncertain terms) that I was walking with my daughter and I had no interest at all in what he had to say. I also told him (in as gruff a tone as I could muster), that he needed to step… away. My reaction seemed to catch him off guard.
Maybe that’s why I hadn’t needed to include any curse words in my tirade, and since I was with my daughter I thought better of using the talking-to-myself tactic, since that would likely have encouraged all sorts of questions – from her. Besides, it was clear that I’d already gotten my point across when he slunk away.
I suppose I wasn’t really acting “crazy”, but some situations call for stepping outside yourself for a quick minute. I’m pleased to report however, that after this encounter, my employee never had the problem again.
Do you think it was what I said – or how I said it?