I remember being 12 years old in Guelph when some boys were picking on Fatima. I walked her home then found myself stranded at the top of a six-foot fence, albeit the fence of my own yard. I finally scared them off with hand signals to my imaginary gang; waiting in the wings and ready to pounce.
I remember being 23 years old at the post office, when this guy returned from a long suspension to disrupt people’s peace of mind with his abuse. Particularly Henry’s. Henry’s real or imagined wife was the target of much of his venom. Everybody just shut up when this guy was around.
Finally one day I couldn’t take it. I went up to him and told him that you can’t talk to people like that. Among much bravado he said “What are you going to do about it?” “I’m going to report you.” I told him. Much abuse and threats ensued. “I’m going to report that too.” I said, and I reported him.
Unfortunately, I reported him to an idiot. The guy came back after a talking-to and told me how much he needed his job and couldn’t afford another suspension and that he knew where I lived and if I ever said anything again he’d mess up me and my whole family. I reported that too.
Unfortunately I reported him to an idiot. The idiot explanined to me in patronizing tones that when people make death threats they don’t really mean it. It’s just an expression. The idiot was afraid of him. Aren’t some people paid not to be afraid?
The guy did mellow out and took to maligning his own real or imagine girlfriend in stead of Henry’s. Many months later I was accosted in the washroom by a female postie who said that the big cheese was here to talk to me and I’d better watch what I say. Curious.
What the big cheese wanted now was for me to tell him how this guy had been harrassing me since. ‘In fact,” I told him, “the guy has not been harrassing me, or anyone else that I can tell.” I thought this was good news, but the big cheese had other plans.
He outlined several fictional infractions that I had committed and how they added up to a two week-suspension that could be applied to me without notice at any time. And Christmas was coming. Maybe now I wanted to tell him all the things that this guy has been up to the last six months. They certainly wouldn’t want me working in an unsafe environment.
I told him to have a good day.
Eventually the idiot himself was threatened by someone and I found myself in a room full of people in suits wanting to hear my story. About how the idiot had told me that death threats were meaningless so how can he charge someone else when suddenly it is he who is threatened. At least, I thought they wanted to hear it. As I got into my story they all jumped up yelling and left the room except one fellow in a suit. This fellow asked me to finish the story and then said thanks for coming out. And good bye.
It took me a while to work out that my “Yeah, but” argument wasn’t much good if your defense is based on “No I didn’t”. I was surprised to discover that there were no good guys in that battle.
I quit the post office that day. This world withought good guys was a world I didn’t want to live in.
And now, I’ve summoned up my imaginary gang for the walk to the cafe past Snowsuit Lady and her everpresent Guy, and I wonder if there are any good guys in the world she lives in.