My software company and another company split the 25th floor of our office building at the tip of Manhattan, and we get the distinct impression that they hate us next door. Someone suggested that our half of the floor had been empty for a long time and that the neighbors got used to not having to share the floor bathrooms and elevators, but I secretly think it’s because they’re a Jewish company and we’re a German company. I say this because one time, a lady from next door–who I admittedly like because she talks books with me–brought over a document that was written in German and asked one of our interns to help her translate it into English, and he later told me that he thought it was strange because it was already translated on the next page; he thinks she brought it over under the translation guise just because it was a deed handing over some German-owned paintings to the Jews and she wanted to rub it in our faces.
A very few of the women are normal and polite, so there was a lot of guess and check in the beginning when it came to figuring out who was worth saying hi to and who would flat-out ignore us. We learned to wrap paper towels around our hands before touching the door handles in the restrooms when we noticed how many of them just turned on the water for show and how many of them didn’t even bother with that. We’d not use the stall directly next to someone just to be polite until we noticed how many of them chose to fart up a storm with no regard on the toilet right beside us when the entirety of the restroom was otherwise empty. And then there were the times–that’s right; multiple times–when they pooped ON the toilet seats. You can imagine the kinds of passive-aggressive signs I posted on the bathroom mirrors after those incidents. So needless to say, after working in this office for two years, I’m done trying to make friends.
And then last week, my co-worker Jian was humbly leaving the office, chatting with me as he opened the door. You have to understand that Jian is the most unassuming, most gentle, most grateful guy, and that he’d never intentionally hurt any of the women next door, as much as they deserve it. You also have to understand that the hallway in our office building is veeeery wide and that there’s no reason someone would be walking right in front of our door on the left side of the hallway when any normal person stays to the right. Jian happened to not be looking where he was going, though, and he managed to come really close to hitting this scrunch-faced hag from next door who walks like a duck.
He didn’t hit her. He came close, but he didn’t. And he immediately said so genuinely, “Oh, pardon me! I’m so sorry!”, even though, you know, he had nothing to be sorry for. But the lady just stood there and scowled at him like an old bulldog for a second before continuing on. Which pissed. me. off. So I started yelling, “You bitch! He just apologized to you even though you were walking RIGHT IN FRONT of our door and saw him coming through the glass and didn’t bother to move over to the middle of the hallway!” She just turned around and called back to him, “You need to be more careful!” So I started yelling again about how she needs to keep to the right side of the hallway if she doesn’t want to get smacked upside her fat head while poor Jian just sort of shrunk back into the office and closed the door.
I didn’t see the woman for the rest of the week, which I thought was lucky, because it seems like it would’ve been mighty uncomfortable to find myself waiting for the elevator with her after that. But this morning at 9, I stepped out of my office to use the restroom, and she was waddling down the hallway with her scrunch face in full effect. I instinctively half-smiled before I realized who it was (as any Ohioan would), and then I was like, Oh, shit, now what do I do? It was going to look ridiculous if I went back into the office and just pretended that I’d popped out for a breath of fresh hallway air, so I forged ahead to the restroom. I heard the clip-clop of her cloven hooves as she sped up to ensure that I’d have to hold the door for her, so I rushed in without looking like I was rushing and let the door slam right behind me.
And it felt awesome.