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Time will tell

May 7, 2022

There are five of us gathered in the conference room. Our three clients are sitting tight behind the round mahogany table. My colleague and I are standing, asking questions, writing post-it notes, and sticking them to the 20x30 templates on the white wall behind us. The afternoon sun is shining through the ceiling windows, leaving streaks of light as they pass through the dust in the air.

The hands of the clock on the wall are leisurely strolling past mid day on their endless track. Never stopping, just telling. 

My colleague and I, let’s call him Mark, had agreed before the meeting that I would be in charge of keeping the time so we would get through all of the templates we’d created for the workshop. Mark was making sure we asked all the right questions, and together we would savor the answers on the post-its

Out of nowhere, I hear Mark calling for me. “Yo tick-tock boy, how we doing with the time?” Immediately my internal thermometer shoots up, and the liquid in my body turns into molten lava. My face contorted I’m about to blast off “What the fuck you just called me?”. But that never happens. I hate conflicts and will always try to be the nice guy. 

I felt like Mark had just taken an old 9-inch long rusty nail, pushed it through my side into an old wound (that I had neatly tugged away), and yanked his mini crowbar as hard as he could. 

I did my best to hide my anger. Breathe deep, cool off. But just as I was starting to simmer down, he did it again. “Yo clock boy, you got the time?”

Face burning red, barely able to contain myself, I told him to look up and read the time from the clock on the wall. 

Because I was very talented with sports when I was a kid, I was hardly ever picked on or bullied. But when I got older, my best friend came up with a very embarrassing nickname for me which everyone started using. Until I was twenty-six and left my career as a pro snowboarder (and friends) behind me, I had to deal with their ugly remarks. It left permanent scars. I never was the guy who would go so low as to come up with embarrassing nicknames for my buddies to have leverage over them. And I’d never confronted them and told them how much their name-calling hurt. My usual reaction was to either get pissed or pretend like I hadn’t heard a thing they said. I know. Probably not the kind of reaction that would stop the bullying. So I just hid the pain.

And now Mark had just lunged his shovel like a javelin high up in the air where it pierced the sun and on the way down landed directly on my pain. And then he proceeded to dig it up. What showed full after the other. What an ass.

After our workshop ended and I didn’t know what to do. I was so pissed. One of our company’s values is caring and we take our values very seriously. It’s a company you don’t just want to work at but love to work at because everyone lives by the values. Well everyone except, this bad apple here, I guess.

I had to do the grown-up thingy. I hated conflicts, and I tended to smoothly slide by them. But I wasn’t fifteen anymore. I needed to grow up. I needed to confront this bully.

But wait a sec. What if he wasn’t bullying? What if he had been living by our company’s values and had been caring for me?

Back in the conference room, Mark sees me looking bleak. He feels that, as the lead on this project, he’s given Jussi (that’s me) the short end of the stick. He’s thinking. How could I get Jussi more engaged and feel like he’s doing a great job? I better joke around to make him feel better.

“Yo Jussi, how are we doing with the time? We good?”. Maybe that cheered him up.

A few moments go by, and while we are knee-deep in the weeds with the client, Mark thinks he better cheer up Jussi again to make sure he feels part of the group. “Hey Juice do we still have time for a couple more questions or do we need to wrap it up?”

Something’s wrong. He looks even worse now. What the heck did I say. Here I go again with my big mouth. Maybe I came across as condescending. I hope I didn’t hurt his feelings. I feel so embarrassed.

Everything in life is colored by the shade of our glasses, be it poison green or rosy red.

A black and white photo of the author Jussi's smiling face with shortcut hair and a short beardJussi Tarvainen

Former pro snowboarder. Author at night. Multi(failed)-entrepreneur. And mostly an awesome designer (said, my five-year-old son).

plenty more loot in the vault

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