This afternoon at work, this woman who sits directly opposite me sort of sheepishly walked up to my desk and asked in a hushed tone if I could stop tapping my feet. I acted incredulous (that is, at least I thought so) because I felt incredulous. I knew I was not tapping my feet even though it was entirely possible that I was tapping my feet. It was also possible that she was bothered by the movement of my chair rolling upon the very old and very bumpy wooden floor Still, I was incredulous, embarrassed and pissed off.
How could I not be?
After I regained my composure several hours later, I asked her if she could be more specific about what was irritating her. I rolled my chair a couple of times and asked, “Does this bother you?” She said she wasn’t bothered any more because I had stopped tapping my feet.
I then said that sometimes I get restless… thus pretty much admitting that I was tapping my feet.
And she had stopped being bothered because from the moment after she asked me to stop tapping, I had been sitting frozen at my desk, hyper-vigilant to not make even the slightest movement.
I could have easily said that I work quietly and speak to no one all day long while you chatter away incessantly. But have you ever once heard me complain?
But I did not.
I could have promised her that I would try to do a better job of being invisible.
I could have said that I notice that lots of people near our desks tap their feet and she never complains about that. So she just happens to complain about the one person who happens to be of Jewish descent on our floor.
I texted my friend C about this and she had an interesting suggestion. “Yes, next time accuse her of religious discrimination. Then give her a compliment about her breasts. I guarantee this is a good way to make friends with your coworkers!”
I texted a response to C that I don’t think that would make a difference because I compliment her about her breasts every day (I actually never would, in case you are wondering). But she never returns the compliment about my breasts.
I could have said that soon she would not have to deal with my feet because I will soon be undergoing surgery and there is no guarantee that I will survive it.
Maybe if I had said that working across from her tomorrow would be a lot easier.