Apology?

(A tiny monologue about an imagined workplace scenario, also inspired by a Poets and Writers Magazine prompt.)

My temper flashes. A co-worker smirks. Another turns away. The boss glares, tosses a pen onto the desk then studies his desk calendar.

Possible excuses for my outburst fill my head.

Long day. Hungry. No sleep. Headache. Sick husband.

I open my mouth to utter one or more excuses to apologize and hopefully repair the damage my outburst has caused. But I stop myself with a question: are any of them the truth?

My younger self was proud of always being polite. Don’t make a scene, Mother said. Smooth it over and be diplomatic, Father said. Both of them are dead. Diplomacy and repression of emotions no longer appeal to me.

“I am angry because … ” I begin. But they have all turned away. They don’t care. And that is why I am angry.

They have dismissed me. They do not respect my opinion and won’t listen to my thoughts.

I start to blame it on my age, my race, my sex, or some other imagined prejudice. But there I go making excuses for them — and there is no excuse. It doesn’t matter if I had thirty years of experience or none, if I was recognized as an expert or was an amateur, if I had written the ‘go-to’ book on whatever it was we were discussing or barely gotten my feet wet on the subject.

The problem is they don’t want to hear me, or see me, or acknowledge me. Their world is populated by those who make them comfortable, those who agree with them, those who nod their heads and reflect the same thoughts they’ve been harboring forever.

Whatever happened to learning from others? To discovering new ways to think, new ways to approach a problem?

I grind my teeth and glare at their backs. Is this a battle for today or tomorrow? Do I have the strength to tackle it now? Or am I ready to back off and disappear into the twilight they have already assigned to me?

The two co-workers are conversing in low tones, and the boss has turned toward them, listening.

The boiling in my brain reduces to a simmer. This work situation is impossible. Somewhere there must be a place where I am valued for my expertise and creativity.

And if there is not, maybe I should make one.

I clear my throat loud enough that the three other people in the room glance at me.

Then, I say, “Okay. Your disrespect has gone on long enough. I’ll take my ideas elsewhere. I quit.”

I’m sure they stare as I leave the room, but I don’t look back.

Peace and excitement replace my anger.

I have so much more to accomplish.

 

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