The Others

There was a day and a time when I was right there with them. Right in the center of the big bubble, the one where life happened. Where lunches were made each morning and packed up and sent off with earnest students and dutiful working dads. Where teachers took roll and class began and then after modest small talk outside the cube we all gathered in the conference room for a status update. Where meals were shared in cafeterias.

And trips to the grocery store. And dry cleaning and a dozen other mindless routine chores. Until the next day.

I was part of it just as much as anyone. The action items and next steps. I believed in synergies and leverage and all that was possible, and cited best practices in my emails, emails I dutifully sent summarizing our action items and next steps.

I did get a bit concerned. Right after I pressed send there were a flurry of positive responses, but then I heard from someone who hadn’t been included in the c.c. line and they were quite perturbed. Somehow they had heard about the meeting and the email and they felt left out and as such betrayed.

Sometime before I wandered over to their office to discuss it, a company email went out about the next session of the crucial confrontations workshop. I decided image

imageto confirm my attendance. And by the time I went over to talk with the person disgruntled by not getting the email, they had left for the day.

That night, eating dinner with the kids and watching the news, it never occurred to me that I’d never reconnect with that co-worker about that email. It never occurred to me that I’d have absolutely no reason or interest in ever following up.

It was hours later, hours after I had received a phone call– the phone call– from my dad and had been to the police station and identified the body with him and given a statement that it occurred to me, that email didn’t really matter, as I had suggested.

Not many things mattered for a long while. But just as importantly I wasn’t going to learn anything keeping up on my emails. The answers were elsewhere, the answers were with others.

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