“Yo, MC Rydes! How you been?!” Read the familiar and yet novel text in my inbox. I almost laughed out loud as I read it. It could only be from one person on earth. Javier Alonso, my old buddy from elementary and then high school.

“Javi!!!” I responded, a big smile on my face. “I’ve been good! How about you?”

In reality, I had not been good. I’d been through a rough breakup and perpetual heart break. I hadn’t yet begun healing. That’s why I was so happy to hear from him. Javier could always cheer me up. He was hilarious. And he loved a good piece of gossip. I couldn’t wait to tell him about the past year I’d just had.

“I’m good, just thinking about our old Alps days.” He replied.

In high school, I’d gotten Javier a job at the rotisserie chicken restaurant I worked at. We ran the salad bar together. We’d have crazy food fights in the oversized chef outfits they’d make us wear. Every night was a blast.

“I miss them!” I half-lied. Though I missed the freedom of adolescence and the time spent with Javier, I did not miss working the lousy minimum wage job. I didn’t miss going home smelling like chicken every night.

“Me too, me too,” he replied. “What are you doing now? Are you working?”

“Yes!!” I typed. “I’m a teacher, I teach English.”

“Of course you do.” Javier mused. He’d sat beside me in our 12th grade Writer’s Craft class, with one of the school’s most notorious teachers. He’d read all my Seth Grady pieces. I’d edited all of his essays. It all made sense.

“What are you doing now?” I wondered. While I went straight to Shire University right after high school, Javi took a bridging program to make up for some missing credits. He’d started at Shire the year after me, majoring in Philosophy. It was around then, years after we’d both quit Alpsons that we’d started to drift apart. It actually happened so gradually, I almost hadn’t noticed.

“I’m doing so good, Lexi!!” He texted back. “I’m working at a bank.”

I frowned. He was working at a bank?! I couldn’t picture Javier all dressed up doing whatever bank workers do. But he sounded so happy. Which was great. Last I’d heard, his parents’ house around the corner from mine had been foreclosed. I never did get around to texting him to check in. It was nice to hear he was on his feet.

“That’s amazing, Javi! I’m so happy for you!” I replied earnestly. We’d come a long way from those horrible public bus rides across town we used to share because we both lived out of the school zone from our high school. We no longer had to shuffle into the local Subway sandwiches restaurant for warmth to draft our angry emails during a blizzard because the bus decided to just not show up for two hours. We were adults now.

“You have to come see my office!” He urged. I definitely couldn’t see Javi sitting behind a big ol’ desk in some office of his very own. My heart swelled with pride.

“Okay, sure!” I replied. Any other mysterious old friend coming out of the woodwork and inviting me to their office and my social anxiety would have kicked in. But this was Javier.

He was my best platonic straight male friend for such a long time. Our friendship had been so tight. At midnight on my 17th birthday he’d texted me, “go to your front door.”

When I opened it, I found a package labelled “Mc Rydes” containing a burnt CD with our 8 mutual favourite Eminem songs on it. He’d even made me a birthday card. He was like the brother I’d always wished I had.

When I pulled into the parking lot to go see Javier’s office, I was confused. I double checked the address he’d texted me. There was no bank here. It was just a business park with low rise office buildings. I guessed then that he didn’t work in a bank bank and blamed my ignorance on the industry for the confusion.

“I’m outside,” I texted Javier after I’d pulled into an open spot.

I scanned the parking lot for unit 141B when a small logo on the second floor caught my attention. CapitalCanada.

Wait a second.. I wondered, wasn’t that the name of that financial services company that was like a pyramid scheme that Michael had briefly been involved with? Maybe Javi was more like my actual brother than I’d realized.

I shook off the bad feeling. I was here to catch up with Javier and see his office and be happy for him and his successes. Even if he had gotten himself wrapped up in a pyramid scheme, who was I to judge. Maybe he could make it work for him. As long as he was happy, I’d be happy. Hopefully we could go for lunch. I had so much to tell him.

“Come on up,” he texted back.

I opened the clear black doors and climbed the flight of stairs to the second floor. As soon as I reached the landing there was a coat hook and two large planters on either side. To my left there was a spacious seating area with white chairs. I decided to take a seat as I waited for Javier to come get me. It was all so chic and fancy, I felt cool visiting someone at their office.

As I waited, a tall slender woman in a bright satin form fitting fuchsia dress walked past me and smiled when we made eye contact. The dress was stunning, but definitely more suited for a cocktail party than a bank, I thought. But obviously this wasn’t actually a bank. She disappeared into a meeting room.

My phone vibrated.

“Listen, I’m actually not in the office today.” Read the first text. My heart sank. Why had he made me come up?! The second text came in, “but my manager Virginia would love to meet with you.”

What?! Oh no. I sprang to my feet as realization set in. The fuchsia dress lady reappeared then, approaching me with a water bottle in her hand. Oh no oh no oh no. I considered just sprinting down the stairs and into my car and never looking back, but she had purposely positioned herself between the hallway and the stairwell. I’d been sequestered. Trapped. Like a fly tangled in a web with the spider coming head on.

“Hi, Alexis?” Virginia smiled broadly, exposing all of her perfect teeth. She held out the bottle of CapitalCanada water for me to take.

“Hi,” I squealed, failing to meet her tone. I took the water dejectedly. “I’m Javier’s friend.”

“Yes, he told me you were coming, and I’m so excited to meet you!” She explained, “I’ve set up a room for us so we can chat.”

Our chat lasted forever and centered around how I too should be working for CapitalCanada financial services. Since my friends and family desperately needed my help with their finances. And especially since I was a teacher with newcomer students that could use their services. Didn’t I want to help my students with their financial goals?!

I ended up signing up for the $60 kick-starter training course they offered the following Monday, half off. I left feeling like my wings had been plucked right off my back.

Javier texted me later that day to see how it went. Like it was no big deal. Like he hadn’t just pulled some dirty fucking shit. So I didn’t respond. Nor did I pick up the phone when Virginia called me on the Monday morning when I didn’t show up for training. Luckily, I hadn’t given them any money yet, and I never would.

Now I know to only meet friends to catch up far away from their offices.

2015

48 thoughts on “The Office

  1. Ugh. It makes me feel ill. The life coach I hired to help me switch careers pulled that crap on me as soon as I got my new job. I just spent months telling her how I valued free time and not money, and here she was telling me how much I could earn by selling vitamins in the side. It’s an easy way to lose respect for someone.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Wow.

    As soon as you used the words pyramid scheme, I’m thinking, oh no, he only wanted to catch up because he wants to recruit her into something. And then it made me mad when he wasn’t even there… pretty shady.

    I’ve had friends (many of whom only contact me when they need something, I should add) ask me if they’re interested in their business opportunities, and I always say no because I’m overwhelmed enough as it is with my regular job and just trying to keep my life together. Usually they respect that. I’ve never had anything like this happen, though. One friend kept trying to recruit me for this cult-like self improvement group and wouldn’t stop asking me things like what’s holding me back from improving my life… well, one thing holding me back is the several hundred dollars they want, and another thing is the fact that pushy people keep asking me. Also, you’ve turned into a totally different person once you started bugging all your friends to join this thing. That’s what’s stopping me. I know at least one other mutual friend of ours who went through the same thing with her.

    Now that I think about it, someone I met in early 1998 tried to recruit me for something, so I might have a story about this in DLTDGB someday, although I don’t remember if it happened before or after January 1, 2000, which was going to be my last episode of DLTDGB. If I run out of stories to tell in 1998 and 1999, I’ll pretend it happened then and tell it… haha.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh no. It reminds me of the people I knew who were in EST. They’d circle back and forth in front of me until they hit me with their pitch. I’m so sorry that your friend turned out to just be spamming you instead of truly reaching out to be a friend.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Werner Erhard started this training. It was very cult like, authoritarian, into getting everyone to divulge all their emotional baggage in front of others. I never got involved. I had grown up confronting so much BS, I didn’t need to pay to go to trainings to do the same. I preferred more one on one or small group nurturing supportive work for healing. But it was a huge movement and many people got involved with the trainings and “recruiting” others.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. My son went to an alternative school and the director and several of the staff were into it. I had another friend who was way into it. It was awful, although I know some people benefited from that authoritarian set up.

        I grew up with an extremely authoritarian Dad and a Mother cowed by it, so personally, I’d rather process my stuff in a loving, nurturing private environment. I’ve had enough conflict and confrontation and don’t heal via it.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Oh…I knew from the very first paragraph that it was going to be some kind of MLM/pyramid scheme act: I’ve heard horror stories about high-school classmates (especially those not even close to you) messaging out of the blue, buttering you up with the “how you’ve been?” before laying down the real message. It’s heart-breaking that, in your case, it was a good friend back then (not so much a good friend now, screw him). Good you were smart and didn’t get hooked into it– bullet dodged big time!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Definitely! I’ve heard lots of similar stories now too, of people pretending to want to catch up. But I definitely didn’t expect it at the time. It’s so, sleazy, I can’t believe so many people are okay doing it!

      Thanks for reading 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Ugh! I can’t even press the “like’ icon because I absolutely HATE that this post even had to be written! I’d like to meet this “former” friend of yours and give him a piece – perhaps several pieces – of my mind. Friends don’t throw friends under the bus like that! I’m glad you saw it for what it was and got away from it ASAP. Time to find a new friend!

    Liked by 3 people

  6. Ugh. How awful. We had that happen once when a teacher colleague of Ken’s invited us to have dinner at their house. The whole thing was an attempt to get us involved in a pyramid scheme for jewelry. When I told them I’d heard of the company and that it was a scam (cuz I don’t give a sh*t about being nice to people like that), they got very offended and never invited us back. Thank goodness.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ha! It’s hard to imagine the people trying to rope you in would be the ones to get offended. It’s crazy how these business set ups alter the way people involved see reality.

      Thanks for reading 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Didn’t want to “like” this post but what other choice does WordPress give me? We’ve seen this happen with good friends and even kids of good friends. They push products, donations, and investment schemes on us knowing they can guilt us into participating. The allure of big money leads to the sacrifice of friendships, and reclaiming those friendships is rare. Trust is lost forever. This one made me sad.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. An eternal optimist, I’d like to think that wasn’t really the person you thought, although the original message seemed too detailed not to be.
    I have received messages on social media allegedly from old friends, whose accounts have been hacked. There were a couple of times when I exchanged a few messages with them before they said how excited they were about a great “opportunity” they had and how much money they’d made, then I’d figure out what had happened.
    Now if I hear from an “old friend” I’ll ask right away “How’s Barbara?” when I know his wife’s name is Janice (or whatever). That will usually tell me whether the message is really from the person I know. (It never is.)

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I love that perspective! It happened to my mom, somehow someone messaged a cousin of mine through her Facebook messenger. It was pretty clear pretty quickly that it wasn’t her, and she was alerted right away, thankfully.

      Unfortunately in this case, it was definitely him. In fact, I’d almost forgotten this whole ordeal happened, until he reached out to me again on LinkedIn earlier this year. This time after the niceties, he asked me to proofread an article he had written. I guess some people never change, unfortunately.

      Thanks for reading 🙂

      Like

  9. It’s always been clear to me that there’s a big difference between who I knew so fondly in high school and how I view them today. It’s no longer measured by one’s peer pressure status.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I was equally shocked, upset and angry. I just couldn’t believe he didn’t even bother to show up! It still shocks me to think about. How can someone to do that to someone?!

      Thanks for reading 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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