I ran into the retiring woman on her last day.
“It’s the last time you have to see her,” I told myself.
“I hope you enjoy your retirement,” I said to her.
“Retirement?” she retorted.
My heart sank. Had I misunderstood? Did I have to keep seeing her every day?
“How can I retire on the meager pension they offer here?” she sneered. “We aren’t all made of money like you.”
Ah yes. This prevalent misconception that I am independently wealthy and work at the hospital merely to take a salary away from a needy person.
I let it slide, concentrating on my future without this particular person.
“I had to retire from this job because my daughter has to return to work so soon after having a baby,” she quipped.
Oh- she is upset about a family situation but projecting her anger onto me instead.
“I didn’t know. Congratulations on the new baby!” I said.
“Yeah, right,” she continued. “You’ve been spreading my business all over this hospital for years and now you’re gonna stand there and tell me you didn’t know my daughter had a baby. BULL SHIT.”
Once the cursing started, I figured I was justified in walking away. Or cursing back, but we were within earshot of witnesses, who would later recall only my transgressions.
This caught me by surprise. I knew the conversation was sliding downhill fast and that I couldn’t rescue it, but I was not expecting this. This is why she has been so nasty to me over the years? She thinks I spread her business around the hospital?
First, I don’t know her or her business. I know her name and that she has some adult children, but that is all. Second, I barely talk to anyone unless I have to about hospital business.
And what would make her interesting to talk about?