Some years ago, I started what was then probably about job number 100, and was staggered as to how popular I quickly became with colleagues. I must be affable, I thought. I liked that. I once heard Curt Smith of Tears For Fears, whom I had once believed was who I really was, described as affable, so that pleased me. And then came an incident with a forty-something autistic woman working there which very quickly saw me return to occupying the unpopular work colleague role I normally fill in companies.
If I drew their attention to the cold sore, then they would accuse me of embarrassing someone with learning difficulties.
When I first started here, we got on great. I was sat opposite her and we quickly forged a good working relationship. The only thing was she’d come to fancy me. Colleagues would tease me about this, but I kind of revelled in appealing to all sorts. It was causing me no harm, so I let it go. She would pick her nose and ask me probing questions about my genitalia, much to everyone’s amusement. Again, I dealt with it rather well.
Then one day, again, much to everyone’s amusement – but not mine, she tried to kiss me. The problem was she had a cold sore (not as bad as the newsagent I wrote about in an earlier Sabotage article) and I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life dealing with recurrent attacks of cold sores. But I knew if I didn’t let her kiss me, colleagues would assume it was because I was repelled by the thought of being kissed by an autistic woman. And if I drew their attention to the cold sore, then they would accuse me of embarrassing someone with learning difficulties.
I was in a no-win situation. I chose to draw attention to the cold sore. After that, things were never the same again between me and the rest of the department. Every time I stepped into that office I endured a tumbleweed moment. Conversations would stop instantly. The autistic woman no longer asked me how big my penis was. The rapport was dead. I’d had an all-too rare taste of what it was like to be popular, and I don’t mind admitting, I’d liked it. I would have loved it to have gone on, but I’m a low-key guy. My personality’s not suited to having a cold sore. Even getting the cold sore cream in a pharmacy would have been an ordeal. I did the right thing. And at least I can look back on an all-too brief period where colleagues would smile when they saw me.
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