Dear Colleague,

I just met you a while ago.

We stepped into the same lift. I was getting back to my place having escaped from an impromptu gossip gathering at the food court. It was 11.30 in the morning, and I had a memo to send out before lunch. That’s when I ran into you. And if I remember right, you were just signing into work.

I smiled. Not because I was happy to see you, but because I believed in keeping up with social niceties. I never thought for a second that you’d take it assume it was an invitation to make small talk. Alas, my bad.

Sure, I’d be thrilled to hear about your trip to the western coast of Australia. Oh, so they’re 6 hours ahead of us? Wow! Those bastards could’ve warned us about the twin towers, huh? I feigned laughter, forcing myself to look stupider than your narration.

And then I realised that the lift had stayed stuck on the 9th floor, and me with you.
As you moved on to the story of the lasagna you made last night, I chanced a glance at my watch. What had started as an innocent break had transitioned into forty-five minutes of wasted time. You didn’t notice, however, and I locked arms across my chest praying for the lift to move. I’d have only been happier if the lift had broken a chord and hurled us both to the ground. At least then you’d stop talking.

From the greasy dinner, you went on about your love life. Oh, why wouldn’t I love to hear how the hot guy on the block asked you out? And I’d be happy for you if the two of you hit it off well. No no, I care about your date night. And no, it wouldn’t be inappropriate at all for you to ask about his previous relationship.

I’m not sure if you had noticed my tortured smile, but I had one plastered on my mouth ever since my first smile. How I regretted getting into the same lift as you. But you go ahead. I’d love to hear you talk about… something.

And a while later, the lift started moving, taking me — a dragging inch at a time — to a place far away from you. We stopped on your floor, and you were oblivious as usual.

Isn’t this your stop? Oh, shoot! Shame I couldn’t hear more about your new boyfriend. He seems like a nice guy. Oh yes, we should catch up sometime. Coffee? Sure. This afternoon? Er, well, I can’t think of anything else I’m doing, so–ok. Ciao.

As the lift closed again, I breathed a sigh of relief. Before I knew it, the lift had reached the topmost floor — mine. I walked back to my place, too drained to finish that memo, but lunch was around the corner, and I had to get it done soon.

For the next fifteen minutes, my fingers flew over the keyboard. I hit send and leaned back on my chair when I heard my stomach rumbling.

Dragging myself to the lifts, I pressed the button for the ground floor. I had skipped breakfast and wish I hadn’t. As I walked into the dining hall, who should I run into but you!

Oh hello, how nice to see you again!

But I just met you a while ago.


Also published on Medium.

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