Watch your back

I used to have a file on my desk with the label “F-Ups”.

I never intended that it would become the subject of any controversy when I named it.  In fact, it was only when a board member asked me how many times I planned to “f@ck up”, that I saw the humorous side.  Before then, I diligently kept all documents that needed following up neatly inside it.

I jumped in my car and went to have my nails done. On my way there, I was getting pissed off that I was stuck in traffic.  It was 11am on a Tuesday morning and there was no reason for the stupid road in front of my office block to have had any issues.

When I eventually got to the end of the queue, I saw that there had been an accident.  There was a blonde lady standing outside her 4×4. She was on the phone and was crying.

There was also a crowd gathering around someone sitting on the floor behind her vehicle. There was no second car and I wondered what the blonde tart was crying about.  The traffic light went green and it was my turn to go.

I had called the salon to say that I was running late.   As I arrived and was running up the stairs, I looked back. I could see the crowd around the person sitting on the floor growing bigger and bigger.

When I got into the nail bar, the receptionist told me that the therapist was running late.  I was a little annoyed.  For God’s sakes, I thought, could you not have told me this when I called you to say I was running late?

I sat down and took out my Blackberry.  Yes, a Blackberry.  I thought I would use the time to check my emails.

The first email I saw was from a colleague from another division.  She was a known chaos-sower and we rarely had to interact, thank God.  Her email said that the CEO was urgently looking for a document, which she knew that I had kept a copy of.  So, she went to my desk and helped herself to a file which she thought may contain the document.  It was the F-Up file.  She made it seem as though she was “helping” me.  You know?  Doing the work for me in my absence, so that the boss would not find out that I was using “company time” for my private shit.  Yeah right!?  I worked flexi hours, dumb thing.

The nail technician did not turn up for work that day. She had been the one sitting on the floor and the blonde tart had reverse crashed into her while she was walking to work.  It was the last time she was able to walk.

I got back to my office and the tension was thick.  The F-Up file had been taken apart and my friend at reception whispered “She’s such a b2tch!”

The unpaid bills that were the subject of the commotion in the office had in fact been paid long ago.  I kept the copies in the F-Up file to remind me to change the address when we moved offices in months’ time.  If the chaos-sower had taken the time to look at the back on the document, the whole saga could well have been avoided.

I thought about the blonde tart.  I sent her love across the walls of my office block and down the main road.  I thought that perhaps a lot of f@ck ups could well be avoided if we took the time to look back.

But, I figured, that most times we’re so focussed on what’s on/in the front, that nothing else really matters. 

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The Weird Old Lady with One Globe

She was 8 years old.

She checked her first pocket.  The grocery list was still there.  She checked her other pocket. The money was still there.  Then, she grabbed a trolley and set off.

She was beautiful!  Thick glasses, neatly plaited gold hair.

She bought lots of strange things. Well, they were strange to me.  A big apple tart, 7 avocados, dark chocolate, 2 bottles of mushroom sauce, a Cosmo and frozen berries.

I followed her around the store.  I know!  Creepy, right?  But look, I had shopping to do too.

We got to the till to pay.

She went first.

Until then, she seemed so in control!  I was thinking “surely, this child is our future president!”

She battled to unload the groceries from her trolley.  Some of the things were quite heavy.

The teller was going fast.

The pressure to get the stupid things on to the conveyor belt was mounting.

She was beginning to hurry.

And, she was beginning to make mistakes.

There was a woman between her and I. Some rude tart that squeezed in while I looked away for a minute.  She was getting agitated.

The 8 year old said “I forgot something!  I’ll be back” and ran back into the shop.  She came back 3 seconds later with a toothbrush.  The teller was calm and patient.

Then, just as the girl relaxed again, she realised something else.  She had to pack her own groceries.  Fast!  So, she rushed to the front of the counter and started packing her heart out!  Faster and faster!  She got halfway when she realised something else.  She only had one of her shopping bags.  She had lost the other. 

So, back she went into the store to look for it.  She came back 3 seconds later.  She could not find her bag.  So, she made a decision.  She packed everything into one bag.

She was nearly over the finish line.

She paid for her shopping.

Then, she walked to the door.

The bag was about to break. It was getting dark.  I watched her trying to make a decision.

So, I walked up to her and said “Go find your lost bag. I will wait with your shopping”

She had to make another decision.

And she did. She chose to trust me. 

She ran back into the store and returned 3 seconds later.  She found her lost bag!

She bent down, packed half her stuff into the second bag and had the biggest smile on her face.

Mission accomplished!

It was dark when we left the store.  My heart was breaking for her.  8 years old?  All that stress?  Poor little thing!  I was projecting all MY feelings on to her. She was fine!  Absolutely fine.

That’s when I had to make a decision. 

Don't do it

I wanted to run up to her and tell her that she was brave, amazing, wise beyond her years. I also wanted to tell her that she should watch out for bad guys and that her parents should really NOT be putting all that pressure on an 8 year old.  I wanted her to know that she impressed me so much and that my heart would always remember her.  I wanted to thank her for that beautiful story that I watched unfolding. 

But, I decided.  I knew that she would probably feel scared and freak out and tell her mom about some crazy woman in Adidas sweats with one globe in her hand after “shopping” for 20 minutes!

So, I decided to let her go.