Everything passes. It has to. That's the beauty and tragedy of it.
A very interesting Japanese saying goes like this: Every person has three faces. One that we show to the world, one that our friends can see and one that is seen only by ourselves.
Once while talking to a colleague of mine I realized that we human beings are exceptionally good at deception. Or at least keeping many faces on us. Even the closest of our friends have a side of them that are hidden. We might say one thing, but in our minds want something entirely different.
So this colleague, right, she is a nice lady – kind, affectionate, funny, friendly, almost maternal. She is easy to get along with and makes friends easily. More importantly, she knows how to instill a sense of trust among people so that they walk up to her and unburden themselves unwittingly. (And, no before you think anything ominous, let me clarify – I am not going to do a U-turn and say, it was all a sham, this nature of hers, that she was really a conniving, back-stabbing b*#@h or some such…) Anyway, she is likeable and all that. She sometimes talks about a friend of hers – a colleague from her previous company who basically became her bff over time. For the sake of this story not getting any more complicated that it could get, let’s call my colleague “Mona” and her bff “Danny”.
Time and again, Mona would gush “Danny this, Danny that, we were this close, we finished off each other’s sentences, we did all this s#*t together, she is so much fun, she is a great worker, she knows how to get stuff done, she is basically my sister from another mother, I miss her so much, I wish she were here too…yada, yada, yada”. To the point that I felt I knew this Danny person was an invisible member of our group, lurking in the background whenever Mona got all reminisce-ey.
So the general impression one got was that they were close. Like super close. I hadn’t met Danny in person, but I had got to know her second-hand through Mona’s numerous recounts. A few times Mona had mentioned how alike Danny and I were in character – vivacious, driven, funny, impulsive, hot-tempered, takes-no-bullshit – all the things that made her think how people tend to choose the same kinds of friends within their circle. I must say, my interest was piqued about Danny.
Anyway, the other day when I had this so called epiphany of mine, we had found that we needed to hire someone in our team with a somewhat senior profile in corporate communications to temporarily replace Mona who was eight months pregnant and soon to go on her maternity leave. We were looking at suitable candidates with the right profile and experience, when it struck me that Mona’s friend Danny seemed like a good fit. Plus Mona had mentioned a couple of weeks earlier that Danny was looking to change her job.
I turned to Mona and said with what I thought to be my ‘Eureka’ smile. “Hey, you know what…we should check if your friend Danny might want to apply. She’d be a good fit, you know her, having worked with her earlier and you don’t have to do as much knowledge transfer! Plus we could get to be friends too! Win-win, huh!”
For a split second, her smile froze. There was a fleeting look in her eye that said she wasn’t quite comfortable with the idea. Perhaps she realized I had seen the crack in her armor. She covered it up with a lame excuse, laughing to sound plausible. “Oh-h…You mean Danny? She wouldn’t really fit the bill, you know. Plus she might not be interested…”
“Really? Well, I recall your saying last week you that she was on her notice period and was looking for a change. So she might be interested, don’t you think?” Perhaps I had imagined the whole reaction a second ago.
“No, no…I am sure. She has probably found a new job for all we know. And it would be too far a commute for her” Her discomfort quite evident now.
“Ok. Sure.” I let it pass, not thoroughly convinced with her explanation, but it wasn’t my decision anyway. Mona tried to sound sincere but I thought she was trying too hard, handing out every explanation she could. Not just one, which would have sounded plausible, but too many excuses all at once are a bit hard to digest.
I shrugged it off, but it got me thinking somehow. What if Mona is the one not willing to let her friend try out the job opening in our team? Danny was her best friend. And she was looking for a job. So what was holding Mona back?
Was it because of some latent professional rivalry? Was there some animosity of some sort? Were some of the stories that Mona had told us not quite the way they were presented, or somewhat embellished with retelling? May be they’d had some kind of falling out lately? What had Mona got to lose if her friend came on board and worked alongside her? Or maybe I was just overthinking things and Mona was telling the truth about her friend not being interested. I didn’t know her friend but I knew Mona and she wasn’t the sort to sabotage anyone’s chances at happiness, least of all her best friend’s.
But whatever her reasons, Mona had selected another candidate to close the position and was well on her road to motherhood.
About a couple of months later, I happened to meet Danny by chance in our office complex (We had connected on Facebook in the past like curious people do, having heard good stories about one another from our mutual friend. But only I was wondering if the stories Danny had heard about me all true or “Mona-ed up”?).
So Danny and I got talking about Mona like people with common friends invariably do to break the ice, each sizing the other up. She was quite like me, a kindred spirit. And we got along well fabulously. At least Mona had got that right!
I asked Danny how she came to be in my office complex and how was a job search going. She had recently got hired by a company adjacent to my office building and had been working there a week now. She liked it, but she wished she were in my office, instead, with her friend Mona.
Remembering my conversation with Mona, I exclaimed “But you should have applied! Mona would have helped you had she known you were interested!”
Danny gave me a quizzical look “But I had asked her. And she mentioned there were no openings at your place or in your team. So I didn’t push it” She shrugged, somewhat embarrassed.
“Uh huh” I replied, unsure of what to say.
“But hey, it’s all worked out fine, see…!” She chirped. “I like it here too. The work’s challenging, the people are amazing…And I am just in the next building. I can meet up with y’all quite often!”
“True!” I smiled at her joi-de-vivre and thought what a great addition she could have been to our team.
Well, people and their intentions and their stories and the choices they make – one never knows really, does one? There are faces, faces everywhere… And not much one can really fathom from the surface.