Earlier I described some great thrills I have witnessed, now, some unsettling chiils in my life. All have a similar scenario. I have entered into a conversation with a serious concern. I have assumed the other person would be receptive.
1. The summer of 1967 I, a very naive fellow, was given a dropkick into the world. A week after coming home from college, I got a letter from my long distance girlfriend who been with me just a few weeks before. She was getting married. I have long come to understand myself and her, but, at the time, I was a prisoner of my volcanic emotions. Soon after, I went to London for a tour with high school friends. I first met up with Bob. We had probably never had a conversation other than about sports, but now, here was reality. After an initial hearing, he told me that he did not want to hear about my messy situation anymore. It offended him. He had a checklist for his bride-to-be and he proceeded to share that. He told me that I was an elite and should keep to those standards. At that moment, I felt the temperature of the room plummet. I sat in gap mouth disbelief. Something I felt in all these chilling cases. In a week, I’d come seen head-on that people can be other that they seem.
2. A number of people and myself were involved in the care of friend with cancer. Her attending physician was chosen more out of sentiment than expertise. As time went on it seemed that she was being neglected eg her IV nutrition was putting on too much. I went to the head of the cancer unit at UVA. At first he was smoothly cordial, but when he realized that I was questioning one of his colleagues he went into a deep freeze. He hyped up this Doctor’s efforts. eg he made a deal of that fact that he brought some medication to her home (I was there -he was in his tennis togs),etc.. I found it scary. Threaten someone’s territory and watch out. Reminds me of my very decent father and his salesman colleague who blew the whistle on illegal activities. They were fired. Hard ball.
3. A work colleague was a charmer. Fast moving, funny, and very computer saavy- a big drawing card. I had a good time working with him. Had him to the house and he played in two of my annual touch football games. Then, I learned of his abuse of our boss. He thought that she should dictate to us. I saw her leave an evaluation meeting white-faced. This group was not one to dictate to. The e-mails would have piled up. I also learned inadvertently of his contempt for us. I decided that I should report this to two of my colleagues. One just laughed it off. A familiar response with her. I went to the second, sitting there in regal fashion. Her first comment was, "I agree with him." 30 degrees at least. She blew off what I had to say, and, afterwards, she went directly out to him gushing as usual. It still angers me, but, in retrospect, no surprise. She was drawn to brainy guys like him and, as our boss, a most accommodating sort, said, "I don’t like turning my back on her".
These were shocking experiences for me. They tell me to beware. Going along in everyday life we really don’t know some people. When you move into the core of their being, you may be in for a surprise. And, it can go in the other direction, too. Like the curmudgeon who reveals a warm heart.