When I arrived at work this morning, it was business as usual. I had to ask one of the supervisors (The Fly) a question, because he is the only individual who has the information at hand to be able to answer the question... nothing earth shattering, or difficult, or stressful; just a mundane question that had to be run past him.
Somewhat to my surprise, he completely came out of his tree. Over the top. He started screaming at the top of his lungs, face beet red, with veins popping out all over, and spit flying... his hands were like claws, and he backhanded his full cup of coffee off of the counter onto the floor, then ripped it off of the ground and slam-dunked it into the garbage can, spraying the vicinity with coffee....all the while screaming obscenities at me.
Now. I know it was early, and that these questions can be somewhat tedious, but this isn't what this was about. I have no earthly idea what it was about, but it had nothing to do with the question, and certainly nothing to do with me, (other than that he may simply not like me to begin with, which is fine with me... I don't particularly like him either... though I have to admit that that is like saying I don't like cardboard. It's just cardboard... what's to like or not to like??!!)
I had no reaction, either internal or external, to this tirade, other than to politely wait until he was quite done, and then to turn and go back to what I was doing before I received the telephone call that prompted the question.
Obviously, trying to figure this out is like trying to assemble a 1000 piece crossword puzzle with only 700 pieces; it doesn't really matter how skillful you are at it, you simply can't put a jigsaw puzzle together without all of the pieces. Period. I am confident that there are quite a few pieces left out of this puzzle.
As the day wore on, I turned this over in my mind, and began to wonder at everybody's response to the outburst. I had none whatsoever. Other folks in the vicinity, employees and customers alike, stood and looked, and waited for it to end in some way, and then they just went back to what they were doing. I could tell that everyone was uncomfortable, because I am extremely sensitive to what is going on in other people in that way... not so sensitive in some other ways, I can be downright dense, in fact, but in areas where I am observant and attentive, I don't miss much.. or, I have never received any information that would illustrate that I miss much at least.... everybody was uncomfortable for some time.
Mostly, once he regained control of himself, everyone basically acted as though nothing had happened, outwardly, but they were much more subdued than is usual, so I can tell that inwardly it was quite a different story.
This led me to muse over what we do when social rules break down, even temporarily. It's sort of odd if you think about it, but when our rules, whatever they may be, are breached, we generally act very strangely, and not at all in ways that we think we would act.
I have seen photos of people running for their lives from lava, tidal waves, or other threats, and many of them are laughing, or appear to be laughing. Some just stand there docilely and watch.
I had no reaction, other than my brain kicking in and poking at this from every angle for a while. Eventually, I simply let it go, other than as an interesting topic to write about (or perhaps not so interesting... my counter will let me know I suppose... sigh).
The Fly approached me about 45 minutes later and apologized for freaking out on me. I told him not to worry about it, and said that I was sure he had a lot going on.
It makes for an awkward day though....
I would like to hear what some of you do when faced with a situation that breaks all the rules. Did you react in a way that was surprising?? What happened?? What did you do?? Send me some comments.... I'm curious!