An open-door policy

The few competent bosses I've worked for all had one thing in common — an open-door policy.

They'd sit in their private offices, while we workers sat in the cubicle farm, but unless they were in a meeting or something, the boss at least left his/her door open. It was an invitation to wander in whenever you want, with a question, a complaint, or even a laugh.

Lesser bosses keep their doors closed, signaling just as clearly that they don't want to hear from the rabble.

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That's at work, though. At home, it works best the other way around: Keep your door closed, please.

The door to my flatmate Dean's room is open whenever he's home, as if to say, come on in and let me talk at you. I'm sure he'd say it's friendly. I'd say it's damned intrusive.

When I come home, I can't get to the kitchen or go into my own bedroom without walking past Dean's open door. And the furniture in his room is arranged so that if the door's open, he sees anyone/everyone passing by toward the kitchen.

Usually he lets me pass uninterrupted, giving me only a smile or a wave. I don't want even a smile or a wave, though. I want to get from Point A to Point B with no detours, not even a conversation. Not even a wave.

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Well, one fine day a few fine days ago, I came into the house and walked past Dean's open door, got the wave I didn't want, but also heard, "Hey, Doug."

Not "Hi, Doug," but "Hey, Doug," because he wanted to snag me for a conversation. Me not wanting to be snagged, I kept walking, unlocked my door, and stepped to solitude behind it, without saying even a word to my ever-annoying flatmate. 

If I'd said anything, it only would've been a rerun of things I've said to him before:

Dean, dude, we live in the same house, and that gives you plenty of opportunities to annoy me, but you gotta at least trap me when we're both in the kitchen, or when one of us is going into the john and the other is coming out. You don't get to detain me like a cop, with your open-door version of a speed-trap, shouting "Hey," and thinking I'll pull on over to the side of the road.

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A few mornings ago, I invited myself to breakfast alone at the diner. I put pants on, grabbed my senior bus pass, and darted out the door — or tried to, but Dean was in the kitchen.

As I sprinted toward the front door, he gave me thirty seconds of tedium about what he'd be cooking for dinner that night — fabulous seafood stew, he said, with fish and clams and oysters — and our other flatmates Robert and even the mysterious 'L' were joining him, and wouldn't I like a plate, so we could make it a dinner for the whole household?

My reply was silence and then disappearance out the front door. I walked across the street and the next street, to the bus stop, softly fuming all the way.

I'd been in a chipper and cheerful frame of mind, until I'd opened my bedroom door and seen Dean in the kitchen. Now, though, no chipper, no cheerful, only Fuck that guy.

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Waiting at the bus stop and then riding the bus as it rattled and rolled toward the restaurant, five minutes were spent scribbling notes to myself about what Dean had said in the kitchen, and how much it had annoyed me, and why.

At breakfast, I remembered a few further ways he annoys me, and added those to my notes.

Later in the day and even the next day, other aspects of Dean's awfulness flashed across my mind in wide-screen, and went into my notebook.

Three days later, I'm typing it all up, and from Dean's half a minute of haranguing me, notes filled two and a half pages. I've spent half an hour writing this, and I'll probably spend ten more minutes re-reading and editing before finally flushing it all away by publishing this page.

Why, though? I don't like seeing Dean's face and abhor hearing him talk, but it was only thirty seconds of my morning. And in his warped way, he'd only been trying to be nice. He'd invited me to dinner, is all.

Yeah, I sometimes second-guess my hatred for Dean. He's an extrovert off the scale, a wee bit unbalanced, and he never says anything that isn't about his unequaled and astounding cheffing abilities.

But you know what else? He's never mean, and he's not trying to ruin my day. To do that, he needs my help.

Soon as I hear his voice I'm ready to scream, but the feeling is not mutual. There's never been anything I've said, or anything I could say, that would bother Dean even a teensy-weensy bit. He's always chipper and cheerful.

I'm an introvert, and in a room full of introverts I'd be the last to speak. He's an extreme extrovert. I never want him to start talking, and he never wants to stop.

We're opposites, neither of us mentally well, and it takes both of us working together to drive me outta my mind. 

It's impossible to stop Dean from doing the things he does, but maybe if I can laugh at it instead of screaming, the things he does might stop driving me nuts?



  1. To use a bad word, I've always thought that people like this were retarded. Like, nobody with an ounce of intelligence can possibly act like this.

    1. Is "mentally disabled" the term we're supposed to use? My assessment, not an insult, is that he possesses a double-digit IQ.


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