“It Can’t Be You” said the man and I smiled at him. I was getting used to this. My debut novel, a psychological thriller called ” It Can’t Be You” had just been published. I was happy it was doing very well. I had come in for a fair bit of good natured ribbing about the title. In fact I changed my Twitter profile to say “Thriller Writer. My friends say ‘It Can’t Be You”! A few days later the same person met me and said “I am very interested in your book. I want to meet you and buy a copy. In fact I want to write a book, too. Can I drop in some time and chat with you?” I said “Sure, anytime. I would be glad to help”. Each time we met after that, he said “It Can’t Be You”. It was fun the first few times but subsequently it began to jar on me. Perhaps I was more annoyed because the same man had once asked me “What time is your book launch today? I must attend and buy your book”. He didn’t show up but I didn’t particularly mind because many others did and they bought the book.
Ever since then, for reasons best known to him, whenever he sees me he says “It Can’t Be You”. Always a bit short-tempered, my blood boils and I feel like snapping at him because it is no longer a joke. For Christ’s sake, we aren’t school kids now. We are grandfathers! The other day when again he said “It Can’t Be You” I almost lost it but managed to control myself. I merely said “You seem to have made this some form of greeting, just as others say “Good Morning” or “Good Evening!”. He gave a sheepish smile but didn’t say anything.
Whether it’s his sense of humor (would you call it that?) or his insensitivity or plain cussedness, it angers me no end. I think I enjoy a joke as much as anyone else but this has gone beyond childish baiting. I told my wife “I think if I don’t react he will continue to bug me. It’s the story of the old school bully all over again. Let me talk to him and tell him straight that I find this behaviour unacceptable”. “He doesn’t work for you” said my wife. “He isn’t some one in your organization you can lecture to. If you react he will tell every one that you made a mountain of a mole hill. He will say it was a harmless joke. Relax and don’t make a scene.” “Do I do nothing then? Do I still quietly while he has his fun at my expense?” I asked, getting hot under the collar. “ I never said you shouldn’t react” said my wife. “I said don’t get visibly angry and pick up a scrap. Just ignore him. Act as if he doesn’t exist. Don’t even look at him”.
Much against my will, I listened to my wife. By the way, I listen to her most of the time! She was right once again. The next time I saw that man, I walked past looking somewhere else. On another occasion, I looked at my cell phone and avoided eye contact.
It seems to have worked. At least for the last two occasions when I have seen him, he has not said “It Can’t Be You”. I must remember to thank my wife for this lesson in Managing – A for Anger.