Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Trust, 2.0

I don't really know why this story came into my mind today.

Maybe because I was researching (work) stuff online and it reminded me how easy it is to find out pretty much anything, these days. We are, after all, the google generation.

So, long long ago, before the internet and the tyranny of the inbox, I worked for an events company and it was fun, but hard work and I had close relationships with my colleagues. I had a lot of fun. But I was younger: I could drink more and faster back then.

A couple of years later, I was going for a job that related to a sector that Frederick, one of my colleagues, had done a lot of work in. Nowadays, if you want to find something out, you just google, but back in 1994, or whenever it was, research and filing were much-prized skills. So I called him - we were both in different jobs, and said, "hey, Fred, remember that project you worked on? Could you send me the brochure?"

And a week or so later, in the post, it arrived. And he'd scrawled his signature across every single page of it, in six inch high letters.

Because, he clearly didn't trust me.

Now, I just wanted to remind myself about the subject, because I hadn't done that much work in that sector, and wanted to have some keywords to mention in the interview. Until his pre-scrawled brochure arrived, the thought of passing his work off as mine had not even crossed my mind.

See, he's a bloke who I was at university with. Except I was mostly in the union and he was mostly in the bar, so Fred and I didn't hang out that much.

Coming to London, he moved in with his girlfriend in Golders Green (he wasn't Jewish, he just had a thing about Vovlos) and they made magical music together. Then he had an affair with someone at work, dumped girlfriend A for new woman B, and moved into the house she'd got in her divorce. Through guilt, he carried on paying the rent on girlfriend A's flat in Golders Green. And the car payments.

I went to Fred and woman B's wedding in Surrey: it was lovely and English. I got lost because (at that stage) South London and its environs were a long way to me. A month or so later, they came to dinner, and things felt strained. A month after that he left her for... someone he'd met at work.

Sense a pattern emerging?

Anyway, we lost touch, partly because I couldn't totally handle his behaviour, and I hadn't seem him for years. A few months ago, I was in Madrid airport, and there'd been a huge tradeshow, and it was heaving. And there he was: flanked by a bevvy of adminstrators, clearly the show director, or something, by now. His boyish youthfulness had sallowed to a thirty-something sleaziness. I so didn't want to fall into conversation with him, that I turned away and found myself deeply interested in the bookshop.


It's a thing.

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