"Something Off about this Day Off" by Troy H. Cheek on Sep 17, 2007
So, there I was, laying (lying? lieing?) about in bed, enjoying my first day completely and totally off in weeks, and the phone rang.
Who, I wondered, would be calling me at the undogly hour of 0830?
It turned out to be my girlfriend, Kitten. This is a sign of an upcoming apocolypse in and of itself, as it was only 0730 in her time zone, and she won't even roll over for sex at 0730, let alone dial a phone.
"Honey, what's wrong?" I asked hurriedly.
"Why does something have to be wrong?" she asked back. "Why do you automatically assume something is wrong when I call?"
"Because most of your calls lately start out with 'Do you love me?', 'How much do you love me?', or 'Do you know how much I love you?'. I've learned that any question involving love invariably results in my spending a great deal of time, effort, or money on something I don't want to just to keep you happy. Also, because it's so early on a Sunday morning that God hasn't gotten up yet."
"It just so happens that I'm driving to work right now because of a staff shortage," she huffed at me. "Besides, can't I just call you up to tell you that I love you?"
"Not generally, no."
"Well, I love you."
"I love you, too." Click.
The phone started ringing again so quickly that it put lie to Kitten's repeated claim that she doesn't have me on speed dial. "You hung up on me!"
"Yes," I admitted. "I suppose I did. You said you'd just called up to say that you love me, then did, so I thought the call was over."
"Well, I had more to say!"
"Oooooh, so you didn't just call up to tell me that you love me?"
"No, I didn't. Well, I did, but... No... Yes... I hate you!"
After a few rounds of apologizing (all from me, natch), she got to the point.
Kitten drew a deep breath. "I've been thinking... No smart-ass comments and no rolling your eyes like that! Ahem. I've been thinking that since you're leaving me at the end of the year and we're never going to see each other again, maybe you could take a week or two off before then so we could spend it together and I can get sick of you and not miss you so much while you're gone." Breath. Breath.
"I'm not leaving you," I countered calmly.
"You are, too!" she insisted. "You're taking that job with the weird hours and you'll never have time to see me again!"
Ah. So that's the problem. A few weeks before, I learned that a position was opening up at work at the end of the year. It wasn't so much a promotion as a lateral move into a job that I'd pretty much been doing informally without the pay and prestige of actually having the title after my name. I was concerned about taking it on officially because that would involve working different hours, having different days off, and leaving me with less time to spend with my loved ones.
Kitten's first response, I remember quite clearly, was to ask how much extra money I'd be making. I reminded her of that.
"Well," she muttered. "I think I was thinking of the extra money you could spend on me, but then I realized that if our days off don't match up, we wouldn't see each other often enough for you to spend it on me. We won't see each other and you'll end up dumping me!"
"Sweetie, I've worked roughly this same shift before. I don't recall dumping you back then."
"No, but it about killed me to go months at a time without seeing you. Don't tell Troy, but I kind of actually miss him when he's not around. Sometimes, I make up problems just to have an excuse to ask him to come fix them. Shh! That's a secret."
I find myself fascinated by whatever it is in her psychological makeup that compels her to admit secrets to the very person she's trying to keep the secrets from.
Oh, I do something similar all the time, but it's completely different. I do it intentionally. I like to point out, very directly and clearly, facts that others might pussyfoot around. I find that a complete and utter lack of subtlety has a subtlety all it's own. By being so direct, I suggest that I am completely clueless and incapable of subterfuge, so that in the future no one has the slightest expectation of subtlety. This allows obvious insults and putdowns to be written off as me just being the way I am. Also, the directness implies a closeness which people get sucked into without realizing it. They suddenly come to believe that I'm sharing a joke with them or something.
Actually, the joke's on them. But if it gets them to think about whatever problem I just pointed out from the standpoint of the guy trying to fix the problem, as opposed to their own standpoint of being the problem or trying to cover up the problem, then my job is done.
Because then they'll do my job for me.
Kitten was upset one time, for example, because she thought her neighbor was stealing chickens. She was further upset because the police went straight to said neighbor and asked him about the thefts. "That's horrible police work," she ranted. "He got so mad that he moved away! They'll never be able to pin those thefts on him now."
"Well, that might be bad police work, but it's good security work," I countered.
"No, it's stupid. You don't solve crimes by going to the very person you suspect of doing it!"
"Well, that depends on what you're trying to accomplish. If you're trying to put the guy in jail, then approaching him was probably pretty stupid. On the other hand, if the goal is to make the thefts stop, then you've certainly succeeded."
"But... What... How?" Kitten sputtered.
"If I'm investigating something and have hit a complete dead end, I figure it's better that the behavior stop rather than have it continue with the hope that I'll catch somebody later. I've been known to go to the very person or persons I believe responsible and start asking questions. 'Excuse me, but we've been having some thefts up in this area recently and I've noticed that you spend a lot of time here. Have you seen anything suspicious lately? Noticed anyone out of place? If you could keep a lookout for me, I'd appreciate it. I need to pin this on somebody. My boss is coming down on me really hard to find someone to blame.' I've had people crack outright in the middle of my questioning. More often, they'll get uneasy or even offended and leave. Word will spread, so if I missed with my first shot, the target will eventually hear about it anyway. I may not have officially solved the crime, but the criminal will stop his criminal behavoir, which is all I really wanted to begin with."
"You're so weird," she eventually replied.
Anyway, pretending that I hadn't heard the secret she'd just shared with me, I assured her that we would still find plenty of time together somehow. And, if not, well, surely our relationship was strong enough to handle a little time apart.
I also 'let slip' that she could always take a few days off and come visit me sometime.