The worst part of ourselves tends to emerge when we’re placed in a defensive position, where normally hidden thoughts are strewn like weapons from our forked tongues. When I placed a colleague in such a position, his words hit me at a surprisingly deep level. He should also feel lucky I like him or my natural reaction would have cost me my job.
I am a geek, with a love of all things superhero, sci-fi, fantasy, and the like. So, when Avengers: Endgame came out of course I had a ticket the very first night. And, like most of the world, I was impressed by the film and anxious to talk to fellow geeks about the storyline. However, not everyone was motivated to get their tickets as early as I was. I found myself having to give my opinion of the movie to these friends without giving any spoilers away, which was difficult considering how excited I was to discuss major plot points with them.
A colleague who considers himself an authority on several things geek began a conversation regarding Captain America. With an expectant look, I asked if he had seen Avengers: Endgame yet, and he admitted he had not. I wasn’t the only one who was surprised, as my cubicle neighbor jumped from his desk in shock at what this colleague had confessed. He mentioned he would see it before the following weekend was through, but we chose to continue giving him crap for having not yet gone. I would soon learn this was the breaking point, yet I assumed our conversation was simply in jest and thought nothing of belaboring the point.
I mentioned when I was on morning radio I would give listeners a week to see a movie or watch a television show, and after that would hold nothing back in conversations regarding said entertainment. I warned the same would be true for him if he failed to go that weekend as planned, and my cubemate asked him why in the world he decided to wait to go see it. The colleague in question said he had a kid, to which I turned to my cube mate and pointed at myself to suggest I had one too.
Then my colleague said, “Yeah, but you have him half the time.”
In that very moment, my thoughts went from Captain America to The Hulk, as my blood began to heat and I was ready to let him have it. You don’t go there with me. In fact, you never go anywhere negative with me where Mr. Carter is concerned.
My cubemate sensing the severity of the comment replied, “You do too. No parent is with their kids all the time.” I was relieved he had my back.
Our colleague’s defensiveness further showed as he said, “I could frankly give a sh*t what you guys think,” although trying to act as if he were kidding before he walked away.
The whole conversation was childish and should never have resulted in ill feelings, but couldn’t that be said for any argument no matter how big or small? I had to remind myself that to be a real-life superhero you have to do the right thing, despite feeling like doing the reverse. I had to let it go.