Asymmetry: A Tale

Here goes trite truth: liking people is somehow considered a virtue.

Sympathy towards kindred human beings proves your adaptation skills and emotional maturity.

Whoever despises his fellow man denounces himself as antisocial (and probably emotionally unstable). A pitiful deviation from Her Gracious Majesty the Norm.

When one doesn’t like people, people won’t like him either. Which will bite him in the butt sooner or later. Sympathy of others is a powerful asset, acummulated for the dark hour. In other words – you gotta have a shoulder to cry on the day you’re sacked.

I’m not joking, people. Some years ago I’ve found myself jobless. I’ve turned to one of those anonymous user forums for advice. You know, the ones full of Certified Left-Legged Twist Instructors, various “coaches” and other producers of fuckall. Yes, I am ashamed – but You see, back then I really was at my wit’s end.

The very first advice I got (coming from a resourceful young’un with a heavily gelled coif) was this: “Browse through your Facebook friend list, I AM ABSOLUTELY SURE that there are at least 200 names there…” Har har.

Movies and TV shows teach us that it takes an acute childhood trauma – sexual abuse or something – to create an unsocial person. Like it was utterly impossible to have a (more or less) averagely happy upbringing and yet become a misanthrope. A person who won’t return a smile. A grumpy fucker who doesn’t smile at all.

Ernestine Phoodudley, a completely fictious character, didn’t like society much. As a whole. Certain individuals were able to ignite whole lotta positivity in her. But when it comes to the so-called Humanity, Ernestine stood firmly where Pratchett has made his standpoint: that the IQ of a mob is the IQ of its most stupid member divided by the number of mobsters.

Chance has brought her a fascinating office job. She had no occasion to indulge in those misanthropic tendencies there.

An unwritten rule reads that the receptionist should be a relatively young woman, devoid of any prospects and ready to smile. Like, all the time. Kindness without hope for reciprocation and cloud cuckoolander optimism help a lot, too.

Ernestine fulfilled those expectations. She would move papers from one tray to another. She would patiently answer the phone, often to hear: “Good afternoon, this is Unintelligible Mumble speaking, I need to talk to the CEO regarding a step dancing kitchenware presentation.” She would salivate numerous post marks. She would hit the bakery down the street when needed. She would hit the toy store too. (Boss forgot to buy his progeny a birthday present.) She would pull up office roller-blinds in the morning and pull them down in the end of the day, like a pro.

She also made a conscious effort to take a liking to her boss. For the boss represented everything that she thought of as alien.

He was an avid believer. An exemplary husband of the first woman who ever agreed to go on a date with him and a happy father of eight (healthy quadruples, two times in a row.) He probably believed that the late Polish president has been assassinated. He was afraid of gay people, trans people and sex liking people alike.

Our heroine decided to seize this chance to strenghten her tolerance and broaden personal horizons.

One day Ernestine received an e-mail from her boss, reading: “Do this and that. Boss.” There was a long tail of forwarded messages following it; and Ernestine browsed through it all out of sheer boredom.

Here’s what her innocent eyes have seen:

To: Main Bigwig in the Accounting

Dear Bigwig,

I feel like sacking this precariate girl that keeps hangin’ around in the reception.

How much period of notice is this creature entitled to anyway?

Love & Kisses,


Feeling like she’s been stabbed in the heart, Ernestine sprung up for her chair and ran straightly to the boss’ desk.

“Doth thou intend to get rid of me, O boss mine?”

The boss blinked.  “Where did you get the idea, sugarpuff?”

Ernestine waved around with the (still warm) email printout. Her principal shoot a gaze towards the telltale piece of paper, gulped and said helplessly:  “Oh, crap.”

“But why?” Ernestine’s eyes were two pools of grief. “Didn’t I obediently move the documents from one tray to another? Didn’t I pull up the roller-blinds daily, smiling, being optimistic and highly professional about it? Answer me!”

“You see, Ernestine…” The boss scratched his bald spot. “We all love you here. We do. No one says <<Good morning!>> as gracefully as you do. But me and the account executive – I’m sure that you remember this nice gentleman, the one who keeps transferring your payment two weeks late, such a funny guy! – have looked into some charts and you are not worthwhile to us.  We don’t feel like paying that kind of money for your not-so-valuable presence in this office anymore. We’ll find some desperate hillbilly girl who has just stepped out of the Greyhound bus and will pull those blinds up for the half of your wages. So no hard feelings and pack your stuff.”

” If I could say something” said Ernestine, her voice only a little shaky  “I have no savings, because I’ve been spending all my money on shoes. I’m a careless creature with no moral backbone, ready to marinate myself in your air-conditioning even for a lot less. So call this hillbilly girl off. I’ll blow you…I mean, roll you those blinds as usual. But please, do not make me loathe myself so acutely. Please let me at least take Fridays off.”

“No” said boss, contented. “Any more brilliant ideas? Har har.”

“Part-time job, maybe?” Ernestine was shivering. ” Five hours a day?”

“Six” said boss firmly. “And you will work in the most inconvenient hours that I’ll be able to come up with.”

“Deal” she whispered in answer.

This is where our absolutely fictious tale comes to an end. Here’s the moral:

Go on, decide to like people if you consider it necessary.  You can radiate with tolerance and broaden your personal horizons like whoa.

But a few hundred bucks is still a few hundred bucks.

Thank you for your attention.

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