You never want to be somebody’s story. From the days when we have to start having to wear shoes, we are taught that growing up means we cultivate pride and privacy. Don’t show that to her, and don’t let him see that.
By the time we develop an awareness of the proper place to pick our noses, we have dipped our toes into the pool of over-indulging in news about home. A good teacher will tell you it’s not required to talk about your daddy’s habit of falling asleep naked and drunk in the back yard. Heaven forbid you tell your daddy that Miss Goodteacher scolded you for telling about his naptimes in the nude by moonlight.
Privacy is a matter of judgment until you reach the age that what you say or do will haunt or bless you forever. And as we slide into adulthood we realize people have stories about a select few that are worthy of retelling – salty, cautionary tales that are both salacious and educational.
“You heard the one about Slim Noodle who went in to work so drunk he had to sleep it off before they let him drive home? That they had to write on the back of his left hand YOU ARE FIRED so that he wouldn’t forget when he sobered up?”
“This gal Shelia Divens was so dumb about dress shoes that she give up trying to figure it out and asked Town Hall to let her work at the tax window barefooted.”
We laugh at the dunces in these stories until one day something unthinkable happens to us and we realize that, as of today, we are the main character in somebody’s STORY. There is now a lurid, horrible, comic tragedy in which we are the sap who fell down a shaft of ignorance or lassitude.
Dumb luck, right? Not really.
There’s no way in hell that I am not the actor in fabula in several such yarns. I’ve done some dumb things. Tragic collapses. Fevers of common sense have overheated my rationale so as to commit a number of epic failures.
Still, I’m not immune to the shame of knowing I play the part of Macbeth or Falstaff in stories that a guy tells his bosses and coworkers as a way of saying he has seen an idiot in action and knows how not to act. I get it. Maybe I’ve helped a bloke out there somewhere, in some way, keep his wits about him on the job.
More than likely, all we really end up doing – we Lomans of the office – is provide fodder for Christmas party jokes and the occasional reminiscence between old-timers on slow Fridays.
Do we know what the odds are that someone becomes the schmuck of a story? There are so many business metrics, but not a single one to tell us how many zirconia are in the dark jungles of the working world.
And there are other types of stories. Crime stories, houses on fire stories, sunken boat stories, lost on a trip to Europe stories, etc. But it’s that Willy Loman narrative that we don’t want to be a part of, a fear that can keep us up at night.
“You remember Slim Noodle, don’t you? Lemme tell you what happened to him after he left here …”
Ugh. It’s definitely food for thought.
Causes Sean Jackson Supports
PFLAG, Amnesty International, AA, Catholic Social Services