love your enemies

I’d never met him before, yet here he was, in front of me. I’d never even heard his name until earlier in the day, but there he stood, waiting to report a work-related injury to HR. As the HR gatekeeper, I was always responsible for dealing with employees who really needed to talk to someone else; I just had to fill in until that person could be found or roused from whatever they were doing.

This time, though, instead of simply documenting his injury and getting back to work, the man asked me to hold out my hand. I did, because we were waiting for my boss and it would have been awkward not to and I wasn’t sure what else to do.

He looked at my hand, this man I’d never seen before, let alone met, and told me about myself. According to my hand, he said, I’m a nitpicker, I love chaos, I’m argumentative and I like to debate. He said I try to be a “hardnosed bitch” but really can’t do it. It’s not as though any of those are unique traits; lots of people like to argue or thrive in chaos. But all of them together, plus the idea of trying to be a hardnosed bitch and failing, made me think he was onto something.

A few of the things he said remain to be seen – will I really have just one child (perhaps, since that’s what I’ve always said) and live until my 90s? Do I really have bad knees (yes) and an arthritic left hand (not currently)?

And then he told me I need a man I can raise my head to. He demonstrated this in such a way that I thought he meant a tall man, which didn’t make a ton of sense. I’m 5’1 – why would I need someone so tall? I started to inquire, but he finished his sentence with “because why would you want someone less than you?”

That was the moment it hit me that, as much as I don’t believe in fortune-telling and palm-reading, he was probably right-on. I’d spent a lot of time feeling inferior to men I dated, yet knowing that as much as I hated the feeling, I also didn’t want to be with someone I considered “less than” me. In fact, it was a big thing in my life at the time, that this person could never have known.

When he walked out of the office after telling me the story of my life, his parting words were “Love your enemies.”

I probably spoke with him another two or three times during the course of my role with that company. One of those times involved him reciting some sort of spoken-word poetry to me at my desk, something about dreams. I think he eventually left, and I certainly did, but that encounter sticks with me even years later. I don’t know why, other than it still fascinates me.

I’m participating in The Scintilla Project. Today’s prompt was “write about a chance meeting that has stayed with you ever since.”

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