“My Story… ” Monday: Asif

(I love telling stories. It might be my favorite “style” of writing. It is, without a doubt, the stuff that most of my readers best respond to. This year, I want to tell you some stories about my past– about people who’ve made me who I am today. Some will be happy, some will be sad. Some you will find encouraging, some you will find maddening. But they all have one thing in common. They are all: People Who’ve Made Me Who I Am Today.)

 

When I was twenty-three years old, I was dating my now-husband. We lived down in South Florida and we both worked in banking. We actually worked for the same company, but in different banking centers.

 

I worked at the largest office in our region, located in Boca Raton. I was the Customer Service Specialist there, and I worked with a huge staff of bankers and tellers.

 

He worked at a tiny office a few towns away. His co-workers consisted of two other men– both significantly older, married, and with children.

 

Needless to say, I’m the one who found a little social circle for us. :)

 

There were several young men and women in their early twenties at my office and we became friends with  them. Not super-close, but the kind of friends you go out with on a Friday night. The kind of friends with whom you have a Christmas party. The kind of friends who hang at an amusement park with you on a Saturday afternoon.

 

One of these friends was a very tall Indian boy (man?) named Asif. He was two years younger than me and was dating a woman in her early thirties when I first met him. That seemed darn-near scandalous at the time! Anyway, he and John were both peak-time tellers at my banking center in addition to being college students. They were nice and funny and fun and we all had some good times together.

 

Of the two, I would say John was the flirty one. He was the one with the smooth lines and the one who could smile and make girls sigh a bit. He never seemed to have a girlfriend, but always had someone calling him. It’s just who he was. He made no apologies and, remarkably, never seemed to leave hard feelings in his wake.

 

As I mentioned before, Asif had a girlfriend when I met him. I knew her, but we were never good friends. She was older and more sophisticated than I was, if I’m being honest.

 

Eventually, they broke up and she fell out of the circle. We continued to hang out with John and Asif in small group settings– not all the time, but here and there.

 

I never thought anything of it.

 

That February, I got engaged and, mere weeks later, was transferred to a different banking center. I waved my goodbyes and made (empty) promises that we would all see each other all.the.time even though I was leaving.

 

In truth, I met new people and was busy learning the new responsibilities of being a teller manager, and I didn’t maintain too much contact with our old social buddies. The occasional phone call or night out happened, but it was extremely infrequent.

 

I was working one afternoon at my new quaint little Boca office and it was so quiet in there. Our mornings were slammin’ busy, but our afternoons saw very little customer activity. I was chatting with a couple of the tellers when a tall frame filled the door.

 

It was Asif!

 

And I was truly excited to see him. I ran across the office and wrapped him in an enthusiastic hug. He looked down at me and said, “I brought you coffee– black, just how you like it. And these chocolate-covered blueberries, because they just seemed like something you would like.”

 

I thanked him, showed him my new office, and then said my goodbyes when we got some customers.

 

After the mini-rush, an older teller looked at me and asked, “So how long has he had a crush on you?”

My eyes grew wide, “Asif? Don’t be crazy! There’s nothing between Asif and me. He’s just my friend!”

 

She grinned, “I didn’t say YOU had a crush on HIM. Do you really not see how he looks at you?”

 

“You’re ridiculous, Donna,” I laughed. “You’re just trying to make a soap opera out of this.”

 

She just shook her head and went back to counting her twenties.

 

I told my fiance about Asif visiting, but not about Donna’s words. He didn’t seem bothered or concerned, so I let it go.

 

Over the next few weeks, Asif would call me, more and more. It didn’t matter that I would constantly turn the conversation to talk of my impending wedding, he still called. He stopped by my office one other time and I begged my customer service manager to try to read the situation.

 

She took me out for a glass of wine that night and dropped the bomb: “He’s stuck on you, JL. You can see it in his eyes.”

 

I went home, defeated, and faced my guy that night, “Donna says that Asif has a crush on me…”

 

Mmm hmm?” he responded.

 

“Well… isn’t that crazy? I mean, don’t you think that’s just her imagination?”

 

He gave me a wry grin, “You do?”

 

“Well… I did. I don’t know. Traci agrees with her. I just… I don’t know.”

 

“He does. They’re right,” he said.

 

“But… but, why didn’t you TELL me? Why didn’t you ever say anything??” I demanded.

 

“Would you have believed me?” he asked.

 

And he was right. I would have laughed him off the same way I laughed Donna off.

 

As it turned out, I had been totally blind to that situation spiraling out of control. I missed all the cues and signals and let this young man get caught up in what was truly hopeless for him. 

 

Ultimately, I stopped taking Asif’s calls and declined any invitations to get together. Eventually, he started dating another girl and that was pretty much the end of all that.

 

I’d love to tell you all that I learned my lesson from this– that I became more acutely aware of signals from men and could more accurately gauge what was happening. Unfortunately, I must admit that I’m still horribly naive and frequently think someone’s just having a great conversation with me, only to be blindsided when they say or suggest something wildly inappropriate.

 

I’m getting better. And I’ve never gotten caught up in it. I’m just not very good at reading people in these situations.

 

Asif was the first one to show me how bad I am at picking up on signals. It’s something I’ll likely always have to work on…

 

 

 

Other people who’ve made me who I am:

Mrs. JohnsonMoneThe Guy in StarbucksKeithMr. Dorfman, Jay, Hannah, Reno, Dr. Y., Jessica G., The Reading Sub, Peach

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