I’m fifty-one. I”ve been married twenty years. It’s been a while since I broke up with somebody.
Once upon a time I did a bit of work for a big computer company. In fact, that was how I came to be living in this part of the world. Of course, while I was working with them, I met several of their employees. One guy in particular had some relation to the project I was there to deliver, so I had almost daily contact with him.
Their structure back then, they had two tiers of programmers. Some were the glory boys, whose job was to develop new products. Then there was another tier of plodders, whose job was to support existing products. It was a demarkation that I’ve never really seen with other clients.
This guy was one of the plodders. I speak as somebody who was strong enough that I was able to sell my skills per-day as a consultant, very comfortable that I would pick up more work someplace when the assignment ended. He definitely existed at a slower pace of life. Furthermore, very different to me.
For a start, family money. His job wasn’t particularly important to him, not the way mine was to me. I always had a passion for what I did, that people paid me to do it was a bonus! In politics, too, this guy was very different – more recently he has argued why it is a good thing that people (and companies) avoid paying tax, and also why his children’s private school should be classed as a charity, when the only people who benefit are…his children! In a nutshell, not at all my cup of tea. Sure, I could work with the guy, I could work with anyone, but we never became friends.
So that was that. I worked a six-month stint with this company, then decided to move on. It wasn’t a brilliant contract and I easily found better clients. However, I lived probably only ten miles from this guy, so we exchanged phone numbers and kept in touch from time to time. We were kind-of bonded by the fact that we had our kids very close to each other, just a few months apart, and as they grew we would meet at the local play-zone or McDonalds. But still, an acquaintance rather than a friend. In fact, he must have irritated me at some point such that I didn’t call him, and stopped returning his calls. Even my wife agreed that he was weird – an example being how he would walk, uninvited, into the bedrooms when he visited my house. Judge for yourself – was I wrong to object?
So I was happy to consign this guy to my past.
Fast forward ten years. About a year after the stroke. This guy turns up on my doorstep. With my eyes, I can now barely recognise him, but wanting to be polite, I invite him in. It turns out that he had left this computer company. They had a round of voluntary redundancies, he put himself forward and, guess what? He’d tried to go the same way that I had gone, as a consultant, but had struggled to find work – in contrast I worked for twenty years and was without work about a month in total. In that time, I only had six clients – they used to like having me around.
However during the course of the conversation, he asked if I wanted to arrange a pub lunch. It was not long after the stroke, I wasn’t getting out much, and a pub meal every now and again is more appealing than a cheese sandwich.
And that became a pattern, every four months or so. Still, only really as an acquaintance – when we talked politics, I realised just how different we still were. When we talked about his interests (we seldom talked about my interests), I realised just how different we still were. At the last count, he had decided that he had now retired, to live completely off his investment income.
Our last meeting was back in March. As I have previously mentioned I work on home-based projects now, and this guy took me on a four-hour lunch. Even if I am enjoying myself, four hours is too long by far. And I couldn’t just come home – we were in a village that was too far away to just walk home. I mentioned halfway through that I had better get back home to work, but this went ignored. It wouldn’t be so bad if we’d had something common to talk about, but no. So I basically decided that that was the last lunch. I get out frequently enough nowadays to not get over-excited about a visit to the pub.
Fast forward again, to now. No phone call since March, I thought that this guy was finally as fed up with me as I was with him. No matter. But now, three phone calls in the last week. So far, I’ve just let them go to voicemail and deleted them, because I’m not interested in going out to eat, or even in speaking to this guy. I don’t partucularly want to be confrontational here, although I realise I have probably already been rude by ignoring the calls.
Any ideas what I should do????