Life is sweet when you have amazing friends to fill the void of a dysfunctional family. In 2009, after my London experience during credit crunch, I went back home, ready for a new role. I started working in a new team with new people, new activity and a new foreign language (Italian training courses paid by my employer).
I have thousands of stories because every day something was happening, but this time the spotlight will be on one of my colleagues: a 6 foot tall man, "rugby player" type with a heart as big as his height. We instantly became friends, mainly because of our dirty sense of humour, our love for dogs and good food.
He always encouraged me and he was the first one that suggested to me to return to London and remain there, for the sake of my daughter's education (she was only 3 years old back then). He is a Romanian Simon Cowell: capable to see the potential in people. He just planted the seed and the rest is history.
A few years later, when I finally moved to London and my daughter was selected to be part of the debate team in her primary school, when her math teacher wanted to meet me just to congratulate me for having such a brilliant little girl or when the English teacher showed me a full page essay that my baby girl wrote in less than half hour, the whole conversation with my colleague came into my mind. I am glad I listened to him and I dedicate this post to him. A short conversation in a small, blue car, during a rainy evening, changed the course of my entire life. And not only mine!
I realized from our discussions that he was very close to his grandmother and I know that he was devastated when she passed. The best thing that we could do was to organize a charity fund raising and surprise the elders in a care home just in time for Easter. I knew a care home on the same street where my grandparents lived and after a few phone calls we knew that we have 46 people to surprise.
We bought 46 Easter cards and asked our colleagues to write some heartfelt messages for the grandparents in the care home. I was so upset to find out that during our one month campaign in the bank, only 43 Easter cards were needed in the end.
After a month of promoting the event in all possible ways throughout the bank (online platform, hallway PowerPoint presentation, next to the elevators, so everyone will see the request for funds, weekly emails to everyone or just persuasion) the big day finally arrives.
We were in the car and he was driving carefully because his little "blue monster" was filled to the ceiling with food supplies and all other necessary items that the director of the care home informed us were needed. It had been easy to buy the food items, but we got stuck when we had to buy adults nappies for incontinence, because this was uncharted territory for both of us. What absorbency level to choose? Which size? Shall we get the ones with plastic back or with cotton feel?
Talking about dirty humour, we kept a mental note that a big nappy would make a great, cheap and easy Halloween costume for the future parties.
At some point the realities of getting old and sick finally hit him because, suddenly, he turns to me and said:
- If you don't mind, I would prefer not to come in. I can just drop off the supplies at the gate, but I will not come inside the care home.
I was surprised and initially I couldn't understand his decision, so I raised my brow and asked:
- What? Why?
But his answer melted my heart:
- Because I will cry!
So, this was the soft side that sometimes I was lucky to have the chance to see. Others, didn't. All they could see was this big joker, always ready with a harsh comment towards the bank's management and the lack of opportunities for career advance.
But I believe in yin and yang: in every good person there is a bad seed and in every bad person there is a good seed.
If up until now I only wrote about the Yang, solar side, the positive and bright part of my colleague, let me expand on the Yin, his dark, but still funny, side.
One day he comes from his lunch break, all red faced and trying very hard to contain his giggles. His desk was exactly in front of me, but because I am short and the desk divider was so high up, I used to see only the top of his head. Even so, I realized that he has done something vile and I couldn't wait to hear it.
He told me that the other day he had to finish a presentation, so he left the office later than usual. Happy that the work day was finally over and thinking that nobody will be in the building at such a late hour, he decided to rip one in the lift. But, to his (and her) surprise, when the doors opened at the ground floor, the HR manager was standing there, ready to take the lift up to her office. Seems as thought he was not the only one working late.
Poor woman! Imagine how long the ride to the 5th floor office must have been, surrounded by the green vapours of his bottom belch. I hope she didn't get the pink eye after being exposed to such a toxic environment.
And I could relate to it, because it happened to me too, when I jumped in his car one morning and I felt like I was inside a Dutch oven. I was sure that it was just a sewer smell from outside the car, so I just asked him, jokingly:
- Man, why did you fart?
I was already prepared with some jokes about my shitty neighbours and the bad waste management done by the Mayor because the whole city smelled like shit. But he disarmed me when he candidly told me:
- Yes, I did it because I didn't see you coming!
Body functions will always be for me one of the funniest sources of entertainment so I just couldn't stop laughing. I laughed until I could barely catch my breath and I am still laughing now, writing about it, so many years later.
Have a good one, everybody, and may you win at the Lottery of Life!