Tuesday, January 30, 2007

well *that* was awkward

I had an experience last night like something out a bad stalker movie. SK and I popped into a bus stop on our way back from a trip to the library, and I saw a guy sitting on the bench who I vaugely recognized as an annoying on-caller from my work. I nodded at him and was a little creeped out when he said hi and called me by my name. I hadn't seen him in a long time and knew I didn't really want to stand in the bus shelter chatting with him, but wasn't really sure why.

After a few moments of idle chatter he asked if I was still working at the Oasis (that's the pseudonym used for the homeless shelter where I work). I said yes and he said, "That's good," with this forlorn sort of air and I suddenly realized that he *didn't* still work there. He was asked not to come back and was taken off our on-call list. At that point I said something awkward like, "Oh, right... cuz you're *not* at the Oasis anymore..."

He said, "Uh, yeah..." then he spent a minute or two bemoaning his departure from the Oasis and expressing his disbelief that things hadn't worked out. Then he looked up at me and said, "I mean, when you were my supervisor, did *you* have any problems with me?" Hmm.

Then I understood just how uncomfortable all this really was. I am a "shift lead" at my job, mostly by default because I've been there so long, but with school as my primary focus, I have to admit that I am a poor shift lead and almost never consider myself anyone's supervisor, including this guy. I couldn't even remember this guy's fucking name, and yet here I was at the bus stop with him and he thought of me as one of his supervisors and he thought, furthermore, that I might know something about why he got fired or maybe even that I was the *reason* he got fired.

I was at a total loss. The truth was, as I said, I didn't even remember the guy's name, much less why we fired him. I don't remember having a lot of input in the decision and, really, I hadn't cared much one way or another. But I can't very well say that to this guy, who's sitting at the bus stop unshaven and sad, living on unemployment still, clearly hurting from the sacking. I can't say, "Yeah, bummer about that. What was your name again?"

I expressed sympathy, I tried to commiserate, I explained that I wasn't really sure what happened, etc, and I prayed that the bus would come soon. Once I was safely on the bus, the details started to return and I realized that there was no reason to feel bad for the guy, he'd been spoken to repeatedly about his performance and he simply failed to understand or take responsibility for his behavior. That he could sit at the bus stop and act like he had no idea why he'd been canned was pretty ridiculous. At the same time, however, it was really weird and not a situation I'd want to repeat.


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