it was Friday at work, and with the release due approaching it was becoming the norm that life at work went with higher pressure than usual. not that much that I couldn’t handle, but for sure one thing didn’t help.
“haven’t you checked your mail?”
“Shanty from Accounting, she asked about the gap report deducted to salary payable from the taxi reimbursement. she came here twice already since yesterday, cc-ed the mail to you as well.”
that girl was Mel —her name was Melinda, actually— she was a twenty-something girl at work, a co-worker I have been working together with through the last few years. short-haired, glasses, she has that smart, charming look mingled with generally nice attitude to generally almost everyone. well, at least to almost everyone at almost every time.
but there was just this barrier of this kind of stern outlook at times.
“I haven’t seen that,” I replied. “I’ll check it later, okay?”
by that time I was preparing for yet another meeting on a Friday at work (duh), I was telling her the truth. I hadn’t properly checked my mailbox aside from brief skimming earlier that day. we were busy preparing for release plan of an updated set of company policy, and came along with the bunch were related changes of supporting workflow and information system as well.
but this air of consternation had been unusual at best, and if I were to exaggerate, one might as well sense annoyance and irritation though not necessarily it was some sort of hostility.
“OK. anyway there was an inquiry from Albert and Linda, with regard to possible change request…”
I glanced at my watch, it was almost 9 AM.
“Mel. sorry, but I have to attend the pre-release meeting right now. can we have it later?”
she put the pen on the desk with unusually not-so-quiet sound.
I didn’t have the privilege nor time to think too much of what was it with her words, or lack thereof, but one thing for sure, life wasn’t being easier to me with her being like that.
I shrugged. God knows.
there was this girl named Cinthya, one of the associate from the team who went on to continue working with me for the rest of the day. we were at the meeting room as she started the conversation.
“did you say something to her?”
she was referring to Mel, of course. okay, fine, how the hell could I know what had happened?
I told her that I had no idea. how do I know when or why she had been acting on almost-no-words policy to me from the day before, well, that was the million dollar question.
“well, she does look well and friendly to you and the team at your place”, I replied.
“maybe there is just a tsunami over there,” she said. “literally and figuratively.” she grinned.
great. first I had a girl with unusual irritation-borderline-hostility towards me (and I have no idea why), then I had a girl with unusually cryptic message delivered at the meeting room. my life is average.
“I checked the mail from Accounting,” I said as I saw her, “well she hasn’t submitted an inquiry ticket…”
“oh, sure. I’ll have the ticket submitted. I forgot that you and your team needs ticket and change request…”
I felt sudden irritation as if it just went and jumped over the bar, well if it wasn’t at high already following the previous situations.
“I have responded to her inquiry already! check your mail, and besides it was only arrived on Thursday, and you get all upset for that? what’s that all about?”
she seemed to be a little taken aback, but even then she wasn’t going to answer my question as she reverted to her thorny demeanor.
I don’t understand. what the hell is wrong with this girl? it’s not like we have been partners for years for nothing, so if anything I was really baffled with her response. we’ve been through worse things, for God’s sake!
I took a seat behind her, opened my notebook, and for the next few hours it was only the Sennheiser and Linkin Park at the volume 30/50 in my ears.
it was around seven on the clock when there were only us around the block at the office. Cinthya was going out for a phone call, the rest were on their way home already, and aside from some discussions with others from both the cross-department team we had yet to talk properly to each other.
I would like to be professional here. so I stood and asked her about the previous work-related matter at her desk. except, of course, that it wasn’t going to be strictly professional matters in strictly professional manners.
“two questions. first, what was it Linda’s request you said you’d talk to me?”
“she wants some report. adjustment on current procedure, cross-charging with the holding company. look, I’m tired. I’ll talk to you by next week.”
“okay, fine! second. what the hell was wrong with you?”
“what? I’m okay!”
“what? you get all cold with me, previously you told me ‘you’re not my boss’. well I’m not! and then you scold me for not responding the request from Accounting when it came only Thursday? that’s not like you at all!”
there was a silence between us. few seconds perhaps, but it certainly felt longer.
“I’m okay. I’m just a little tired.”
she averted her gaze, as it was she didn’t intend to say anything more, but it wasn’t more than I could understand. she wasn’t telling the truth. I knew better. what, we hadn’t been partners for nothing, so I wasn’t buying her words just like that. but at the same time…
“oh, damn. look, I don’t know what happened to you. and I’m not going to ask when you’re not going to talk. but whatever it is, it would be okay. I hope. okay, I don’t know. but I hope it is.”
damn, why should I go on saying things like these? but, well, that was all I wanted to say! if she wasn’t going to talk, I wasn’t going to ask. but at least, whatever it was to her, I did hope that it was going to be okay. no questions asked, no response required.
she remained silent. and I had no intention of saying anything more than that.
but the air was no longer as tense.
“I’ll be going home for now,” she said. just saying, perhaps. whatever it could mean.
I looked into her eyes. I had to admit that one might think that she had quite the look for a girl, but to me that was hardly the problem then and there.
she looked at me with her unusual gaze behind her glasses. I looked back. one second. two seconds.
I was at a loss for words, before finally I managed something.
“uh… get well soon, okay?”
she smiled. or maybe more like she was trying to smile, I don’t know, but for all I know it wasn’t necessarily her usual self, but I don’t mind. any other day, any other way, I’d still say what I said to her.
a little more silence before she replied.
that was all she said. but honestly, I didn’t really mind.
she is going to be fine. I think, I hope, well, if she wasn’t, she will be. such a strong girl she was, perhaps more than what she knows of herself. there was a reason to whatever it was, and though she would never admit, I could say that at least I knew better.
but still. even with all that stern outlook and irritating attitude at times, she is a girl, after all.