Thursday, 31 May 2012


Warning: This is going to be a rant

I'm sure each and everyone of us has felt lonely at some point in our lives.  And I am willing to bet, that most of you have felt lonely in a sea of people? You know what I mean?  When you are surrounded by people everywhere, yet you feel unseen and unheard.
This happens to me sometimes.  And I will admit, it's probably tied to the kind of mood I am in at the time.  Normally, I am the kind of girl who will go into any room and start talking.  In crowds of people, it's usually me that's trying to crack jokes, who is laughing and who is having conversations with various people.  I can be loud and I can be giddy.  I usually am.  I am not afraid to meet new people and I am usually making a new friend every other day. 
So, when the day comes that I am standing there, and people are milling around me but I am quiet and feel like going to stand in the corner, it can be quite disconcerting.

Today has been a funny kind of day.  The day itself at the office was fine.  I was quite busy and my general attitude to the job was positive.  I didn't growl at too many people and was quite eager to help where I could and give a pep talk where it was needed.  The weather was crap though.  It has been a bit of a reality check after having almost 2 weeks of SUMMER in Manchester to wake up this morning to the grey and rain that is the bain of my life. By 10am this morning, my straightened hair was showing clear signs of waves, and by 2pm, curl melt-down had occurred.  On top of that, I had managed to get my shoes soaked through and cringed with disgust every time I had to put them back on. However, it was the 'bad news' after 'bad news' that I got today that seriously put a damper on things.

First, it was a text from hubby letting me know that his work van had been broken into.  A number of things had been taken, including a Satnav and his own personal CD's amongst other things. What made it worse for me was that his boss had blamed him and told him off about it. That is something I would never do.  I am sure you would feel gutted enough as it is and not need someone to hold you accountable for something so totally out of your control.

Next though, was the email I got from my mom.  Out of the blue she informs me that she has been in hospital for the last 4 days due to a very high sugar count and her diabetes has gone through the roof.  The only reason she was admitted in the first place was because she had complained to the doctor about back ache.  The back problem took a back seat the moment they checked her sugar levels and rushed her straight into hospital.  I can understand why she didn't tell me when she was first admitted.  Besides, there really isn't much I can do 5000 miles away, but I was still upset.  Not only because she is clearly not well, but because I AM 5000 miles away and helpless. 

I jumped on the phone after reading her email and called her. I needed to hear her voice and make sure she really was ok now.  And aside from sounding very tired, I believe that as long as she sticks to the diet they gave her, and injects the insulin as she has been instructed, she will be ok.  As for the back, well, it turned out to be something quite minor. 

Yet I felt my mood drop right through the floor.  Its been nearly 5 years since I have seen my parents.  Sure, I talk to my mom often, and we chat on Facebook as you do, but I haven't seen her in almost 5 years.  Each year we talk about going back to South Africa to see them, but that silly old issue with money keeps coming up.  You won't believe how much it costs now-a-days for 4 people to fly return to Johannesburg.  And then other, more affordable things come up - like trips to Greece, new car, citizenship, and trips out to the where-ever....and you think, next year.  I will go to SA next year.

Shortly after my talk with my mom I got another email from a very good friend and she was asking me how I was.  Of course, I told her about my mom, and the car and how sad I was at not having seen my mom or dad in so long and she pointed out a few obvious things I could do.  Saving money being one obvious one, but she also asked why I don't just go by myself. If only just for a week, to spend some time with them.  Admittedly, flight costs for me would be a lot cheaper, but I would feel selfish not taking the children with me and then there is hubby to think about too. So what to do? What to do?

This evening, I came home to find the CSI (yes, you read that correctly) parked outside my house, doing a thorough 'Crime Scene Investigation' on the work van. A little bit of action that would normally have had me giddy with excitement and I just ended up sitting on the couch bored with it all, looking at the take-away menu, wondering what to eat. I couldn't even decide on that.

Tonight, I went onto Twitter and after reading through a few tweets, marketing my new blog for contributors, felt totally lost and lonely.  All these people, tweeting, chatting and what have you, and I may as well have been invisible, because that is how I felt. I spotted people there, who were tweeting, who I tweeted yesterday and who hadn't replied to me, so I felt ignored by them.  My mood dropped even further, and the thought 'Lonely in a sea of people' came to mind.

So, here I am blogging about my feelings tonight and thinking to myself that the reader is probably thinking I need to get over myself.  The reader would be right in saying that too, because I do need to get over myself. As I type this I am thinking exactly that.  But, as I have said many times, there is nothing better, than writing my feelings down, for me to best express myself and get it all off my chest.  I usually walk away feeling better for it anyway and that is perhaps the quickest way for me to get over myself.  But every once in a while, we do have a down day don't we, and I personally think it's allowed. 

So, if you ever feel like you are alone amongst hundreds of people, be it Facebook or Twitter or whatever other social media or situation you are in, you are not alone.  There is probably always someone there who is just wishing someone would reach out to them and include them.  As for me, I will most likely be back to my usual loud/happy self tomorrow but for tonight, I'd like very much to feel sorry for myself thank you very much.

Miss you mom and dad xxxxxxx


Monday, 7 May 2012


It wasn't as if this was new to him, people looking through him as if he wasn't even there. The giggles he would hear coming from the young secretaries when they did happen to notice him. Sneers on the faces of the jocks, as he called them, and sometimes those very same men would punch and kick him when they knew no one would be looking. A typical day would involve Sam burying his head in paperwork or staring intently at his computer when he was at his desk, or hurrying through the corridors at work, eyes downcast, feet moving at great speed to get to where he needed to be.
Even at the lifts, nobody would ever hold the door open for him. No, he was much more inclined to see the doors slide shut as he hurried towards them, the occupant/s of the lift usually looking away, as if not wanting to see the defeatist look on his face as he tried, yet again unsuccessfully, to reach the lift in time.
This was a typical day in the life of a man who was tired, so very tired, of being misunderstood.

After the incident, nobody could quite say what was the snapping point? What was the ‘stressor’, if you happened to be listening to the FBI or ‘the straw that broke the camels back’, if it was the interview with his mother you were listening to. A lot of people had a lot of ideas, but nobody knew for sure. Only Sam knew and Sam wasn't saying.

The morning before it all happened started out like any other. Getting to work earlier than normal, Sam went to his desk and put down his bag. He was immediately concerned when he noticed that the pile of papers he had left on his desk had been moved. Furthermore, the hand-outs he had done, ready for the meeting at 9am this morning, were missing. After spending a few minutes going through ever single pile of paper on his desk, Sam realised that they were gone. Where the hand-outs had ended up, he could only guess, and he wondered if perhaps David had his hand in this, as David had been hanging around close to his desk yesterday evening when Sam had finally finished putting them all together. No matter, he thought, there were two things in his favour today. One - he was early in the office and two, the documents were all saved on his hard drive.
And so, Sam went about making another eight copies, printing and stapling them and had just finished the last one, when his co-workers started making their way into the office.
Sam peered up and looked at the clock on the wall. Ten minutes to nine it read. Desperate for a cup of coffee but not wanting to be caught out again, Sam put the newly printed hand-outs into his top desk drawer and made his way to the kitchen. Gretchen, his boss’s secretary was stood gossiping with Penny, the biggest gossip in the typing pool. When he came closer they both glanced up and looked at him. Gretchen rolled her eyes and Penny giggled, but neither one said a word while he hunted for his coffee mug. Sam felt his face begin to go red as he searched and searched, his coffee mug nowhere to be found. What made it worse was that neither Gretchen nor Penny spoke a word while he searched, but rather, just stared at him, irritation on their faces, as if they couldn't wait for him to get lost so they could continue talking, talking about him probably, he thought.

"You lost something loser boy?"
Sam peered out from behind the cupboard he was currently searching and saw David standing by the kitchen door, looking down at him.
"Erm, my coffee mug, I cannot find it."
"I am sure I saw the cleaner throw it out yesterday. She said something about it being the most disgusting mug she had ever seen" David replied, sneering and both Gretchen and Penny giggled.
Sam stood up. He knew at that moment that his coffee mug had probably been thrown out, but doubted very much it was the cleaner.
"Oh, OK, very well" he muttered and looked down at the floor.
"And don't even think about laying your prissy hands on any of my mugs" David said, moving towards Sam, the size of him enough to threaten, if not the fact that his body language was screaming that he would hit Sam at any minute.
Sam sidestepped David and made a hasty retreat out of the kitchen, but not quick enough so as not to hear all three of them laughing as he left. He pondered with the idea of going outside and getting a coffee from 'Cafe Nero' - a coffee shop just around the corner, but glancing at the clock again, realised that the meeting would begin in 2 minutes and that he had run out of time.

It wasn't unusual for Sam's boss to ask him to make coffee and tea for attendees of his meetings. Sam wondered why he didn't ask Gretchen, his secretary to do this, but normally, he would wave Sam over and instruct him to make a certain amount of cups of tea, and/or a certain amount of cups of coffee. Having made 5 cups of tea, 3 cups of coffee and having run downstairs and ordered a dozen croissants from a nearby bakery and depositing these on the table in the boardroom, Sam finally found himself back at his desk and opened up his email.

'Loser' was the title of an email in his inbox, sent at 5.43pm last night.  Clicking it, Sam noticed the email body was empty, but there was an attachment with it.  He double clicked this and finally saw what had happened to his hand-outs from the previous day.  In the picture was a set of hands holding his print-outs.  Sam was pretty sure it was Derek's hands - A guy who was so huge he appeared to be on steroids - that sat at the desk next to his, but  Sam couldn't be sure. The person who was holding the print-outs was in the process of feeding them through the shredding machine.  Sam looked over at the shredder and indeed, lying in the paper receptacle was his print-outs, shredded into a million coloured strips.
The sender of the email was '' but Sam knew that there was no point in reporting this.  The guys at IT treated him just as bad, if not worse than most of his co-workers. He sighed, deleted the email and moved onto the next one, so beginning his work day.

By lunch time, Sam had got through a significant amount of work and decided to take the book he was currently reading with him to the coffee shop around the corner.  He didn’t enjoy reading or eating at his desk, mostly because people would talk too loud, or tease him about the book he was reading or make fun of the sandwich his mom had prepared for him. At least at the coffee shop, he was almost guaranteed to get a good hour of relative peace while he read.  He bent down to retrieve his book from his satchel but found his bag was missing.  He heard a few titters around him.  People who had obviously been waiting all morning for him to discover the theft and felt the heat rush to his face as he blushed.  He looked to the left and the right of his desk. Gone.
His wallet was in the bag, his library card, and the keys to his home.  He felt the edge of panic and looked around the office; unable to help the look of pleading he was sure was all over his face.
"What you looking for Sam?" Gretchen asked, looking up from her computer, a mock look of concern on her face.
"My bag, it’s gone!"
"Bags are for girls, Gay boy" Derek retorted getting up from his desk and grabbing his coat.
"I'm sure I heard David say that he saw a bag in the men's room earlier." Sarah volunteered from the other side of the office without looking up from her computer, a trace of a smile on her face.

He knew it was a trap.  Of course it was a trap.  But there was nothing that Sam could do.  He desperately wanted to get it back, to know that he had all his things back again, to get his book and to escape from this wretched place and so, with trepidation, made his way to the men's room, the sound of sniggering and soft voices trailing behind him.

As always, the smell of stale urine assaulted his senses as the 'Men's Room' door swung closed behind him.  There, in the urinal, soaked through with what was obviously pee, lay his satchel.  David, Greg from the IT department and Derek were standing at the basin washing their hands.  
"Is that your girlie bag lying in the piss?' asked David looking at Sam through the reflection in the mirror.
Sam moved forward to retrieve it, his nose screwing up at the smell, disgust washing over him as he touched it and felt it was soaking wet.
"If you want to be a man, you should get yourself a briefcase and stop with the girlie bags, gay boy' Derek said, smoothing his almost-there moustache and grinning at his own reflection in the mirror.
"Look, please leave me alone.  I don't do anything to bother you." Sam said, feeling disgust at himself as he heard the pleading in his own voice.
Greg, moving quickly, was suddenly stood in front of him, blocking his escape route from the men's room.
"Are you going to take that ladies bag, all covered in piss with you?" Greg questioned him, the look of revulsion clear on his face.
"Please..." Sam heard himself beg
"You are a sick, messed up loser" Greg replied and pushed him hard.
Sam fell backwards, his back hitting the white tiled wall, but his feet slipped out from under him and he fell with a thud, landing in the urinal, the back of his pants immediately soaking through with piss and water.
David and Derek both laughed at him and shook their heads.  Greg, as if enraged even further by this, kicked Sam's satchel, sending it flying across the room, into one of the toilet stalls.
"You piece of shit, you make me sick" He snarled, the look of loathing all over his face.
"Chill Greg, he isn’t worth it." Said David, still grinning and he held the door open, waiting for Greg to follow him and Derek out of the restroom.

Mortified, Sam got up and retrieved his bag. His body was shaking - From fear? From anger? - He thought it was probably both.  The seat of his pants was wet through, the legs of his trousers wet in places and his satchel reeked of urine.  He opened the bag and dug inside and found his book too was soaked through.  Everything inside was wet and stank.  He felt tears prick his eyes.  He couldn't go back into the office now? Wet and smelling like this?  He couldn't go to the coffee shop either, not now that his book was virtually unreadable.  They had taken everything away from him.  His print-outs, his coffee mug, his bag, his book, but most importantly, now his pride.  Sam would put up with it no more.
Lifting his satchel up and throwing it over his shoulder, Sam wiped the one tear that had managed to escape and was making its way down his cheek.  He stood up and squared his shoulders and with all the determination he could muster, Sam headed out the door and headed for the lift.

People waved their hands in front of their noses and some made gagging noises as he walked past, but he no longer noticed.  Gretchen, on seeing Sam as he hurried past her, noticed he was wet from the waist down, wondered if he had pee'ed himself and for the first time, felt a small sense of disgust when she looked over at Derek and David, seeing them grinning and realised what had happened.  She shook her head softly from side to side but continued typing.
The doors to the lift were closing as he neared the lift, but this time, Sam stuck his hand in the way and doors opened again.  He stepped inside and not a sound was uttered by any of the 4 occupants as they travelled the 12 floors down. Even if someone had said something, it's doubtful that Sam would have heard, the buzzing in his ears was too loud, the anger too acute.

Sam didn't stop at Cafe Nero's that lunch time. No, for the first time since he had started working in the city, Sam hailed a cab and gave the driver the address to his home.  He took no notice of the questioning look on the taxi driver’s face, nor did he notice when the driver rolled down his window to allow fresh air in the cab.  When the taxi cab pulled to a stop outside the home that Sam shared with his mother, he asked the cab driver to wait and without waiting for a reply, or paying the driver, Sam fished in his bag for his key and entered his home.
Throwing his satchel to the ground and pulling his wet pants off, Sam threw them into the corner of the room. Next, Sam removed his underpants and his shirt.  He walked over to the washing basket and dug out his old sweatpants and a t-shirt. Then, replacing his office shoes with loafers, he dug out a clean, dry bag from his cupboard.  Finally, Sam headed over to his grandfathers safe. Long dead now, the safe was where his mother kept her father's things. His papers, the deed to the property they lived in, a few sentimental items and his gun with a few boxes of bullets.  Sam packed the gun and all the bullets into the bag, swung it over his shoulder and headed out the door, back to the waiting taxi.

The taxi driver smiled to himself, pleased that his fare had bothered to change out of those reeking clothes and wasn't surprised when his passenger told him to head back to the office block he had picked him up from not 15 minutes earlier.


Standing, outside the building, Gretchen was almost hysterical with not knowing what was going on.  There must have been 15 police cars and at least 4 ambulances all converged outside her office building and she was surrounded with weeping and bleeding people.  She didn’t spot a single one of her co-workers and the news that was filtering through to her wasn’t good. A gunman, someone said they thought his name was Sam, had apparently gone into the building and began shooting everyone. 
“I need to get inside, please!” she begged the tenth police officer that ran past her, but like all the others, this one only shook his head. “I’m terribly sorry ma’am, nobody is going in and only the injured and the dead are being brought out at this time.”

Somewhere deep inside of her, realisation finally hit and Gretchen fell down to the ground on her knees, screaming out in anguish, tearing at her hair and thanking God that she had left the office to run the errand that her boss had given her.  She screamed and screamed, and even though there was no blood on her, paramedics ran over to her and swiftly loaded her into a waiting ambulance and sped away with the hysterical woman.