So you know that story in which some professor leaves a question in an important paper which asks the student; 'What is the name of the Janitor?' and that goes on to tell us how important it is to respect the support staff in offices and schools etc?
Well i took it to heart.
So whenever my morning tea is served at work, or whenever someone comes in to empty my waste basket i make sure to give a smile, a nod and a thank you right? just simple manners.
Then the tea lady incidents happened.
They were more girls than ladies. And they were quite pretty in a tea serving latha like way. So i go about my usual smiling routine and they smile back right? And i'm probably the only guy who smiles with them on my floor so they get quite attached to me in a distant sort of way. With 'good morning sir's' etc.
So then i get this series of phone calls, the line sounds grainy and a distant female voice is talking at the other end. I can't make out anything so i hang up the first few times right? then one day the line is clearer and i find out it's the tea lady.
She proceeds to relate to me one of the most bizarre stories i have ever heard.
Apparently a chap at a different division had gone and let her verbally have it accusing her of 'being involved with me'.
Needless to say, i was speechless. absolutely bamboozled. its one of those moments when you're trying to figure out if its actually you this should be happening to, a feeling of utter disconnect.
Then i'm like wtf right? the whole shock of it settled in. So i ask her. Er, why would Mr.xxx go and say something like that to you?
She acts cagey, said she just wanted to make sure things weren't gonna take a turn for the uncomfortable. and hangs up.
I contemplated going and confronting the guy but then drop the idea. Believe me, i've come across weirder people with greater their-own-business-minding-deficency-disorders than him. But the sheer insanity of it struck me like a hammer. Here stand I and a tea lady. Possibly from two different social classes working at the same office. And from the mere fact that there are some smiles exchanged between us every morning and evening, some goon draws conclusions of midnight meet-ups and starlit rendezvous'.
The girl came into work a few more days, then left. Hopefully she just got a transfer and didn't quit or something.
The mystery only cleared up when later I found out that the tea boy was her boyfriend. And in a fit of jealousy may have convinced my 'colleague' (who apparently derives some sort of sadistic pleasure out of these sort of things) to do the deed.
And i didn't even know those two were even going out. He was half her height, and had the most innocent looking face you ever saw.
Well that was the first incident. The second one started a bit after the first girl left. the second girl starts to smile a little bit more and a little bit more coyly than usual everyday, and once I caught her staring at me when i was leaving the lunch room. I started getting this uncomfortable feeling in the pit of my stomach so finally decided that some changes were in order.
I have since developed a more professional smile with a slight nod that communicates politeness more formally than my mal hinawa of old. And i find myself identifying more closely with a previously dark and detested area of accepted societal norms as well. But I still smile at the tea lady, albeit a smile completely removed of all traces of come-on-over-ness. Yes I admit, in retrospect my smiles may not have been all that strictly professional as i had thought.