Posted by: emjb | February 27, 2008

Cries from Belly of the Beast

During my semester abroad sophomore year, I knew a guy named Amos* who it was impossible to hate. He was a hard-drinking, partying sardonic type, smart but mostly funny in an extremely bitter way that I’ve always found attractive. We all partied because we were all giddy at being legal and away from home, and because English beer was actually tasty. (some of it…). But Amos got a little drunk every day, and blind-drunk at least once a week. During a school-sponsored boat tour, he got so out of control that the bobbies were called and he was escorted off the boat to dry out. When he went with a bunch of others to Amsterdam during fall break for the obvious reasons, he apparently narrowly escaped a knife fight. None of which seemed to faze him.

A few years ago, my school’s alumni magazine came my way, and I was surprised to see that Amos had become an insurance underwriter.

As you may know, I work for a Giant Insurance Company (That You’ve Heard Of), in the marketing department. And I had forgotten all about Amos until a week or so ago when I had to talk to a guy in our underwriting department. GICTYHO is so big that I barely know the people on my floor, much less the ones across the complex, so I had never met any of the people I emailed all day. I hardly ever call people, because I hate talking on the phone, and because I am paranoid about getting things in writing when it comes to work. Anyway, I had to call Underwriter Guy to demand he send me something, and instead of being a gruff, actuarial sort, he sounded…friendly. Goofy, eager, and most sad, desperate to talk to someone. I could not get him off the phone, without finally pulling the “wellthanksgottagobye” routine.

Huh, I thought. Weird.

And then today, with a different Underwriter Guy…same thing. Desperate attempts to spin out small talk into smaller talk, anything to keep me from hanging up. And while I do, indeed, have a sexy voice, that wasn’t it. They weren’t asking me for my cell number. They just didn’t want to be alone.

And now I have this vision of the underwriting department as some dim hellish place where no one talks to anyone and life is grim beyond description. So much so that talking to a gruff writer from Marketing is like manna from heaven. And I thought of poor Amos, and realized that he’d either found another job by now, or drunk himself to death.

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