Cloture (I.R.L.)

For several years now I have lived as woman. And, riding the commuter to Chicago and back I now and then see people who had seen me while I was transitioning. That time of my life was not a pretty sight. When I do recall it the title of a movie comes to mind: The Phantom of the Opera. Well, as it happens, currently there is one guy who rides the same train and he had seen me back in those days. This guy reminds his commuter friends about “what” I am.

Every week day on the 5:04, he and his friends stand in the train’s vestibule drinking beer. When he sees me he points me out with derision to his beer buddies. I am extremely tired of his jejune behavior. I consider him in the same category as those people who make the snide mocking comment “Well, what did you think.” when I relate to them that some of the people closest to me deride me in their own deprecating ways. Now, I don’t live to be noticed and certainly not in a denigrating way. What part of me don’t you understand?

Some things play out differently. This happened last night.

My week at work finished up nicely. I had completed my projects on time and I didn’t have to bring work home with me. Last weekend, I had worked tons of overtime. But last night I was ready for some time off, for some time to kick back.

At the end of day, I left my desk and got on the elevator. There was a man standing at the rear of the elevator. The elevator doors closed and the man then proceeded to pick his nose from the 24th floor to the first floor. Gross! (But, uncannily, I was reminded what a good friend once told me: “You can pick your friends and you can pick your nose, but you can’t pick you friend’s nose!”) Fortunately, I walked away unscathed. lulz.

Off the elevator, I walk over to the train. I get on the train and sit down. Soon, a man who smells like he has bathed in urine sits down near me. Then, another man nearby (probably an attorney) is excitedly making sure his law partner (on the phone) understands how things should be handled. I can hear every word. It’s a type “A” conversation. Sadly, these annoyances during the train ride’s lock down are common place on the commuter, but they don’t usually gang up on me.

After an hour and ten excruciatingly long minutes I get off the train and head for a local restaurant I favor. It is a seafood restaurant (not Red Lobster). I am hoping that Jambalaya is on the menu. I had tried their version (w/mussels) on Fat Tuesday. It was superb.

I sit down at the bar and order a Stella. The bartender who served me on my last visit greets me and says, “Nice to see you.” I smile and think, “Nice to be seen”.

The bartender hands me the menu after he reads the Specials to me. I am only interested in the Jambalaya. The chicken and seafood gumbo on the menu would be an acceptable default finisher in the event of a Jambalaya no-show. But, my food thoughts were interrupted. Someone sat down next to me and said “Hi”.

Glancing sideways, barely looking at this guy, I return his greeting. Immediately I realize that it is my old business partner D-. Eeyow!

I began sipping my beer and digging through my purse trying to find my cell phone. I needed diversion!

At this point, I am desperate, anxiously looking for the bartender so that I could order food To Go. I want to get out of the stew I’m in. My bartender, though, is down at the end of a rather long bar. He’s creating frou-frou drinks. So, I began quickly swigging my beer while going through the menu on my cell phone. I check out the Emoticons.

Now, I had known D-. for a long time. D-. reminds me of Alec Baldwin’s Blake in David Mamet’s film version of Glengarry Glen Ross. He is completely self-possessed, obnoxious and arrogant. He could quickly become vulgar and he would verbally abuse you if you get on his wrong side. I know. I worked with him for sixteen years and I was a business partner with him for fourteen years. That was until the day I decided I had had enough. I had enough of him and his angry, demeaning ways.

As a partner with D-. in an S corporation I received a six figure income and plenty of perks including a company car. But I also had an incredible work load. I was the VP of Engineering for our small corporation (roughly $17-20m/yr in sales) and I was on call 24/7.

In those days customers were given my cell phone number to call if there ever was a problem. If the machine we had provided a customer had an issue, the customer would call me. Beyond this, I was flying to different parts of the world such as Poland, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Mexico, most of the Canadian provinces and almost all of the States to provide support for the equipment we sold. I, in fact, had designed and built major portions of our corporation: I set up the accounting and the computer network and CAD stations, I designed the electrical engineering portion for the equipment we manufactured including the schematics and wiring design. I programmed P.L.C.s and SCADA systems. I managed a group of engineers (16) and dozens of customers. I welded, painted and wired machines. But, this wasn’t good enough for D. Somehow I was lacking in his eyes and this lack usually happened when the bottom line of the P & L took a hit and this due to a stagnant economy. It was then that D-. would often turn his verbal rants onto me.

Now, because I was married at the time of my business relationship, my relationships outside of work suffered: I was either on the phone with a customer or gone somewhere with a customer or simply brain dead after receiving the brunt of D-.’s economic panic attacks. After fourteen years of this I needed out. I didn’t care about the money or perks. I needed relief. So, I gave my notice.

After my decision, D-. came to my house begging me to stay on. I refused. I had had enough. I cut my ties with him and his abuse and the excessive workload strapped to my back. It took months to return to close to an even keel. (The sad irony for me: I had the exact same marital relationship as my business relationship with D. After leaving the egregious business situation for my spouse and kids (and for myself) and being out of work for some time, my spouse decides to separate and later divorce me. Even though I did everything for this person except bear children it still wasn’t enough. During our own tough economic times, the bottom line of our marriage P & L was written in red ink, in my spouse’s view.)

Well last night D-. was sitting next to me, nine years after my divorce from the partnership. I don’t know if he knew that I had re-gendered after my own divorce. He didn’t recognize me, it appeared. But, just in case, I turned and faced the entrance to the restaurant hoping to see a phantom friend enter the door.

The bartender never came back.  I halted a passing waitress and told her that I needed to pay and go. She took the money, gave me the change and I was out the door. Whew!

I didn’t get the Jambalaya I wanted so badly. It wasn’t on the menu. And, I didn’t want to stick around for the seafood gumbo. I sought food elsewhere (fish and chips to be exact) at the local Irish pub. A Green solution!

Presently, I have a job I love and a quiet, peaceful life. My loved ones still avoid, ignore and shun me because of my re-gendering and because I have left over anger from the whole terrible time of the business and the marriage. I am still recovering.

I hope to never, ever see D-. again. I became nauseous while he was sitting next to me last night. I certainly wouldn’t accept any payment to be around him, as before. I would, though, buy everyone at the pub a beer. A Green solution, all around!

© Sally Paradise, 2011, All Rights Reserved

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