My husband used to temp with this guy who’d cry two or three times a day. He’d go to the loo or for a fag break, my husband, and come back to find him hunched over his desk bawling his eyes out, or typing away while tears streamed down his cheeks and dripped onto his shirt.

The first few times it happened, Gavin asked whether he was okay, what’s wrong, but eventually he gave up. It happened. That was all. No one talked about it or knew why he did it, least of all this guy and, anyway, his supervisor said it didn’t affect his work. He was a crier. That was it. Like some people have bad BO or dandruff or an ability to follow simple instructions.

Sometimes Gavin would go out for drinks with him after work, and he’d be talking away about his favourite condiment or something like that, and the next minute tears were rushing down his face and jumping gleefully off his chin. He’d cry and cry, but he treated it like it was nothing. He’d sniffle up his snot, wipe his face and carry on. Everyone in the office knew, and no one cared or took the piss, until this new temp started who didn’t leave him alone.

Her name was Rachel – for some reason Gavin remembers her name but not that guy’s, go figure – and she couldn’t understand why no one took his crying seriously. It wasn’t normal. People don’t just cry. Gavin tried to explain it to her, but she told him he was being naive or in denial, some pop-psycho stuff anyway. There was something wrong. There had to be. Maybe no one could see it. Maybe the guy couldn’t either, because he’d been doing it so long. But there had to be a cause, and she was going to help him find out what it was.

The next day she sat next to him and asked him question after question, and when he started crying she asked why that question had started him off. He said he didn’t know. He didn’t think the question had anything to do with it, but she wouldn’t let it go, until eventually she told him she thought it was the job.

Gavin had no idea how she reached that conclusion. The questions that brought on the tears had been random – where’s that file he was talking about? Do you know where the nearest pharmacy is? Can you sub me a fiver for lunch? He cried in the pub too, but she was convinced she was right and told him to quit. He was only a temp. He could get something else. Something that would make him happy. Not data entry anyway. He should go on holiday at least. When was the last time he did that?

So he agreed and booked a flight to Istanbul. Then he cried. He’d never been. He’d always wanted to. It would be good.

While he was away Gavin told me he thought he’d given in more to get her off his back for a week – maybe she’d be gone by the time he got back, she was a temp too – than because he was deeply unhappy. But when he came back (Rachel had left) the crying had stopped. He sat down on his first day back, and entered data without a single tear squeezing itself out of his tear ducts. He wasn’t happy. He wasn’t smiling. But he wasn’t crying either. He was blank, focused, productive.

At the end of the week, Gavin took him out for a beer and asked what had happened, no tears all week, what was so special about Istanbul? He’d gone to the Hagia Sophia, the Blue Mosque, taken a trip down the Bosphorus and looked at the Black Sea. The usual tourist stuff. Nothing special. But he hadn’t cried the whole week. The wind had been pretty biting too, but no tears.

On the plane out, he said, he’d sat next to this huge bloke from Zimbabwe. He was wearing a massive leather jacket, and the moment he sat down he began reading this little pink paperback called Hot Sex! (and how to have it!). He had a smile on his face the whole time, and when they passed over the Alps he put the book down and began cooing out the window at the snow. It was amazing. He’d never seen it before. It was so bright, so white, so pure.

After that they started talking. The guy from Zimbabwe said he was going to Istanbul for a Human Rights convention. He’d never been on a plane before. Then he asked why our guy was going and immediately he began to cry.

The Zimbabwean asked what was wrong and he said: nothing, I just cry sometimes for no reason. At least for no reason I know about. Then he said: I’m going to Istanbul for a holiday, that’s all.

The Zimbabwean said, you must be crying because you’re so happy then, and our guy, he wiped off his snot and tears and said he was probably right. Yeah, thanks.

When the plane landed they shook hands, said have a good time, the usual stuff, and didn’t see each other again.

The week after he came back he didn’t come into work, and Gavin never saw him again. When he mentions him now, which is not that often, he always says he’s probably off somewhere now, you know, crying with joy. Lucky sod.


11 thoughts on “The Crier

  1. Don’t tell anyone, – seriously, I got a reputation to think about – but I found myself crying a few days ago, not a lot, just a little, whilst watching Cool Runnings. Cool fucking Runnings! Yep, the film about the Jamaican bobsleigh team! It was the scene where they carry their sled over the line. How does anyone cry at Cool Runnings??!!

    Um, I should probably add that I was on a comedown though.

    Great story as usual, mate.

  2. Pingback: The Crier | TechyTrickster

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