When you live in my country, you have to carry with you an umbrella or wear a good jacket because of the rain. It falls a lot throughout the year, to our great displeasure. But when it happens and you go out with a group of people, there will always be those who didn’t think about taking an umbrella with them, and you will end up sharing yours. This is where things can turn sour.
Two weeks ago, before D. was fired, we went out for lunch and it was pouring rain. Carrying an umbrella isn’t typical for men, I’ve noticed, except in the business world where men want to keep their tuxedo clean. And of course, D. didn’t carry one. When we got out of the snack, we got served with heavy rain, and with the group of colleagues accompanying us, we decided to go two by two with the umbrellas we got. And I ended up sharing mine with D. But I refused, and asked for a switch with a female colleague. I didn’t take notice about D.’ s reaction, but I knew he was pissed. Since the beginning, he tried several times to break the distance between us, for example, he put his hand on my shoulder once while we were eating together. But I looked at him very coldly and he immediately took his hand off of me.
But you don’t break the distance with me easily. Liz wrote an interesting post about personal space, and it clearly explains where you should stay in function of your level of proximity with the others. Like Liz, I don’t like when people come into my personal space when they’re not invited. So, let’s go back to the umbrella problem. I consider sharing my umbrella as an act of proximity. Only people who are close to me can come under it with me. It’s like that. But I’m not difficult. By close, I mean people that I get along with, so that would make a lot of potential sharers of my umbrella. I’ve noticed that I accept the people I get along with in my personal space (not to be confused with my intimate space). I really tried to get along with D., but it wasn’t easy at all. I was never on the same frequency when we were talking together. He didn’t get my jokes, I didn’t understand his either. I even felt offended by some of his jokes, especially the bad ones he had on women and Jews (part of my family is jewish). Our conversations always revolved around him and his problems, I felt like I was totally invisible. As a result, he irritated me all the time.
But he was part of the group of colleagues I use to go to lunch with, so I had to be nice with him (getting in a heated argument with him in front of the others is something I can’t do). In the end, I was glad when I had a press conference during our lunchtime or meeting with my boss. It’s always difficult when you’re in a situation like this. If you decide suddenly to break the habit with your group, they will notice something wrong with you and ask about it. Admitting you don’t like someone everyone seems to like is admitting you’re difficult or antisocial, and it can lead to your exclusion of the group. Since we’re a small team in our newsroom, you can’t allow yourself to an exclusion like that.
And besides, yes, I had a little crush for him. I can’t explain that. We are so different. The incident with the umbrella was another proof for me things could never have gone further.
So, this leaves an important question: would you share your umbrella with someone you don’t like?