Not Having a Good Cry

When things really go wrong, and a woman needs to be alone, it is my experience that she retreats to the bathroom to have a good cry and think through what to do next.  She’s safe there, and no one will question it if she needs to spend some time in the stall.

What do men do?  Let’s say I have a male character who suspects he is going to be laid off, even though he has been working long hours and doing the work of two people.  Today his boss gives him a very low rating on his performance review, and it’s clear Mr. Long-Suffering Staffer is going to be the next one laid off.  I’m guessing he does not go into the Men’s room to hide.  But what does he do?

22 responses to “Not Having a Good Cry

  1. Willy felt heavier than usual as he lumbered into Moran’s bar and ordered a strong Manhattan. The drink went down quickly and he tried not to think about the new quality control manager that had made him look so foolish today. He ordered another drink. Willy glanced down the bar to where Rita was sitting smoking a cigarette. What will I do if I gets laid off, he pondered for a moment, then looked again at Rita, he liked the way she took those long draws and slowly lifted her head to expel the smoke in the air. Willy ordered another drink. That punk, he thought, I will build that boat I always wanted, now I’ll have the time. He turned his head and tried to get Rita’s attention. One more Manhattan Gus, make it a double. Let that wimp stay stuck in that dead end company, Willy’s revery continued, I will sail my boat around the world. I wish she would look over here. Sure Gus, I can handle one more. This is the best thing that ever happened to me, I will build my boat, sail it around the world, and write a best selling novel on my experience. I should write that little creep a thank you note. Gus, give Rita drink on me.

    • I’m delighted to see that you didn’t give me an answer so much as an illustration. Kind of like showing, not telling? Love Willy’s illusions.

    • The only way to handle a dilemma is with anger, alcohol, and grandiosity. Hey, maybe I should run for congress…?

  2. Waldo’s description is great. But if a bar is not his scene or handily available, going for a walk, run or drive suits many men.

  3. Jack stood outside Crayson’s office, his hand still on the knob. He was next down the sewer, he knew it. He began threading his way back through the maze of cubicles, actually getting lost for the first time in all his years in this hell hole. At his desk the report he’d been working on before Crayson summoned him was still on the screen. Jack pulled the keyboard to himself, squinted at the screen and tried to understand the last sentence he’d written. A sudden gust of emotion brought a lump to his throat; he shoved it down. Who cared about the report? Who cared about anything?
    He stared at the keyboard, then decided; picked up the phone and hit the first auto-dial number.
    “Hello?” A child’s voice.
    “Hey, champ.”
    “Is your mom there?”
    “She’s asleep.”
    “Tell her I’m coming home early today.”
    “You’ll be home for dinner?” The child’s voice arced upwards with incredulity.
    “I’ll be home in an hour.”
    “Hey, you can fix my bike tire!”
    Jack didn’t want to fix a bike tire. He hated fixing bike tires. He glanced at the screen again, thought of Crayson. Maybe bike tires had their compensations. This he could do.
    “Yeah, sure.”
    The line went dead.
    Maybe he could teach the kid some phone manners too, with all the time he was going to have on his hands.

    • Good scene. I think this is what happens. You get stuck fixing a bike tire and worrying about your kid’s manners. Good to see you here!

  4. I think I’ll go for a long walk and figure out what is going to happen with my life. After the review I just got I don’t think I’m going to have this job for much longer.
    I’ll get my fishing rod and sit on dock throwing my thoughts out with the bait. That always seems to clear my mind and help me think. Plus maybe I can catch dinner saving a bit of money.

    The sound of the waves calms me down helping me figure out my next move. My thoughts have to be on the fish when I catch one, so my mind will not be on my up coming job loss.
    What if I don’t get laid off. That could happen too. Maybe my boss gave everyone a low rating. You never can tell. I know I do a lot of good work but if I do get laid off I can finally start my own business like I have talked about for years. I’m good enough, I do have a bit of money put aside for that vacation. Starting my own business can be a vacation of sorts.
    Anyway you look at it this could open a new world for me.

    Some men drink, some yell, and get angry but some think of a new way to go in life.

  5. Barbara Burris

    When the enormous corporation I worked for was taken over by one even larger, they rented one floor of an office building to use as an ‘outplacement’ center. Any of the several hundred employees who’d been laid off could go there each day to use telephones, scour newspapers and get secretarial assistance. Basically useless seminars run by cocky, well paid and highly unsympathetic young people were scheduled in the conference rooms each day. Their goal was to attempt to reinvent former (primarily older) employees to compete in an increasingly competitive, youth oriented marketplace. After hours of roll playing, most people left early, shaking their heads at the indignity of being treated like a tenth grader with an IQ of eighty-six.

    I’d only been with the company about eight years, but many of the men I worked with had been there twenty, a few nearly forty. Talented men with once lively personalities quietly roamed the hallways looking like ghosts. Friendly guys who once cheerfully chatted about their kids became teary eyed of someone merely asked about their families. One ad exec who’d been with the company for over twenty years broke down entirely and confessed he had no idea where his son’s college tuition would be coming from the following year.

    Everyone knew that the people who were there landed there not because of poor performance. It was the luck of the draw. ‘Job reduncancy’ it was called. In other words, the bigger company already had someone who did what you do, so you were no longer necessary. Still, that didn’t keep shame from creeping in to sit on people’s shoulders and whisper the words ‘worthless and loser and incompetent’ into their ears as they shakily made those horrible networking calls we all detested.

    A few lucky people found jobs within the first weeks of being in outplacement. And believe me, they were few. As the months drew on, the pain of going there each day and seeing the same haunted faces became too much and I eventually moved out into the job world on my own. I heard they shut it down after about six months.

    I sometimes wonder what happened to the nice bunch of guys I worked with. I’d like to think they shook off their outplacement experience, regained their self-worth and moved on to better and happier prospects.

    • Wow, this broke my heart. It was a terrific illustration of how it feels to be made redundant. This is powerful writing about a very timely topic, BB.

      • Barbara Burris

        Thanks for the compliment, Ann. This happened over twenty years ago, but I remember the feelings and happenings as though they were yesterday.

  6. Get laid off? Get laid. No, seriously I would sing; just lay my head back and wail for as long as it takes. Or until someone complains. Muy cathartic for me. Also I meditate, get inside and turn up the volume as Thaddeus Golas says in “The Lazy Man’s Guide To Enlightenment”. That’s where the answers are. Whatever you want wants you.

    • I always thought women were better wailers than men, but apparently that is a sexist remark. Good advice though. I’ll have to look into Mr. Golas.

  7. Typical. I bust a gut for years, then today I get told by some wet-behind-the-ears fresh-outa-college Ivy-Leaguer fast-tracked for the top that I’m not delivering what he needs to make himself look good to the board. Even had the gall to call me a ‘loser’. Okay, well if I’m outa here like seems pretty damn obvious, I’ll go out with a bang. I’ll show him who’s the loser. I’ll just upload all those pictures I took at the company Christmas party of him making-out in the board room with my wife.

  8. Why Men Who Live with Parrots Don’t Cry, or, The Other Side of Men Crying

    My husband and I were having one of those marital discussions that increase in volume and fury. When they reached their apex, I stomped into the bathroom, slammed the door, and started crying. There was silence from the other room until I heard the unmistakable sound of parrot wings in flight.

    I had forgotten Pablo was loose. I stopped crying immediately.

    A moment of silence and then, “OWWWW!!!.” More parrot wings in flight. Fearing for Pablo’s well-being, I exited the bathroom immediately and found my husband bleeding profusely from his ear lobe.

    I started laughing when I realized what had happened. Green Amazon parrots bond to one person and one only. Any other person is considered an interloper. Pablo thought my husband completely responsible for my distress and punished him the way parrots do.

    My husband also started laughing and that was the end of the argument. He was surprised when Pablo landed on his shoulder as the bird had never done so before. Pablo had the sense to depart that shoulder after he pierced my husband’s ear lobe.

    • Great story! Odd how some comic relief can shift the emotional gears so quickly.

      I’m relieved to hear from at least one other woman who has also ran to the bathroom to cry.

  9. Ps: I had to put Pablo in his cage before we could hug and apologize.

    • Barbara Burris

      Loved this one, Gullie! My sister has a yellow naped Amazon named Beethoven. He can be very protective of her, so I can just picture Pablo in action!

  10. Jake slumped into the Dew Drop Inn right after work. Connor was standing behind the bar doing his usual “serve, scan, stock” routine behind the bar as he spotted Jake. He broke out into a big smile, extended his right hand to him and called out in a thick Irish brogue, “Jaazez Jake, it’s great to see you man! It’s been ages since you entered my humble establishment, how have you been?” Jake accepted Connor’s out-stretched bear claw and the warm welcome seeped into him and cast a blanket of appreciation over Jake’s frustrated and weary frame. “What will it be Jake”, said Connor as he started to pour a pint of Harp for him. “The usual , replied Jake, “I see you are already at it”. Connor put the clear glass of amber liquid in front of Jake, and said, “Cheers old friend!, let’s have a drink together now “. He poured two shots of Jameson’s and slid one up against Jake’s glass of beer. Both men downed the whiskey and clanked their glasses down on the polished maple bar top. “You don’t seem yourself Jake, is everything ok?” said Connor. Jake cast his eyes down at the bar top and said, “Things could be better”.
    “What’s going on?” asked Connor
    Jake sighed deeply and said “I think I’m going to get shot next at work”
    “Why is that Jake?, we both know you do the work of two?
    “Revenue is down and the shareholders are looking for profits”, Jake replied, “so there will be another Reduction in Force”
    Connor asked ,“What makes you think you’re next Jake?”, as he refilled their shot glasses.
    Jake told his story, “I took on another role in the company in addition to all the work I was already doing. The guy who had the job before me was transferring to another department. At the time of the transfer he was working on a project to test a critical computer system to make sure it could be recovered in case of a disaster. Management got really focused on that after the Tsunami in Japan last year. Lots of businesses that did not have a way to recover computer systems went under. My boss, Joe Naser, told me that the guy running the project should just keep doing it and close it out instead of turning it over to me. He worked on the damn thing for eight months with no results. Long story short, his new team pulled him from the project and they dumped it on me. I got it done in 2 months, and was successful, but I had my review today and Joe was asking me why it took 10 months to finish. He flat out denied that the other guy was tasked with doing it. Joe gave me a “needs improvement” rating and we both know that puts a target directly on my back”
    “Holy Moses Jake”, Connor said, “It does sound like they are preparing to run you out of town, what are you going to do?”
    “First I’m going to finish this beer”, said Jake, “Then when I get home and I’ll update my resume. When I get to work tomorrow, I’ll make a copy of all my contact information in MS Outlook and taking it home. I’m also going to take copies of examples of my work, and look through my accomplishments to make sure that I’m not missing anything on my resume. Then I’m going to start looking for work while I still have a job”
    Sounds like a plan, said Connor.
    “I’m not done, said Jake, “After this drink I’m going to Victoria’s Secret and buying a red lacey bra and matching panties and garter belts, size XXL. After taking the tags off and mussing it up a bit, I’ll put it in an overnight delivery box addressed to my bosses surname only: Naser, and ship it from the address of the Dominatrix down the block. It will arrive at his house the day after tomorrow, where his curious wife will open it and read the following message:
    Bad boy Joe! What did I tell you about leaving your dirty clothes on the floor. You’re going to pay for this. Wink. Can’t wait until I sink my teeth into you again…”
    “Why that’s a grand plan” said Connor, “This calls for another shot”, as he refilled their glasses again.
    They raised their glasses once more and Jake felt empowered and appreciated as the warm liquid make its way down his throat. Revenge is a dish best served cold, he thought, but friendship deserves a drink served warm.

  11. Thanks Ann! It was a fun piece to write. I’m glad you enjoyed it.

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