When You Have A Crush On Someone Who Really HATES You
I faced quite a dilemma with my last job.
I shared an office — an entire building in fact — with a female co-worker who I absolutely fell for. She was articulate, beautiful, and brilliant— and she hated my guts!
Odd story, but I’ll start from the beginning.
I got a job at a local events center in July 2018. My co-worker — we’ll call her Emma —was a young, experienced veteran of the tourism industry. We bumped into each other here or there in previous years, but we were on good terms up to that point.
After my first week of training, Emma and I ended the latter half of our days talking the hours away. Worktime gave way to long discussions about World War Two, of all the things. Turns out, she had an affinity for history, current events, and guns — like me!
We clicked. We clicked really well. Granted, she was a co-worker but it seemed as if I had found the perfect match, someone who had a musical voice and a love for Full Metal Jacket. I assumed, and hoped, this friendship might blossom into something special.
Then things changed — and all because of a damn parking spot.
Our events center naturally came with a wide parking lot for conventions and weddings. On a normal day, it was just my Saturn and her Jeep side-by-side. In mid-August 2018, she informed me how she’s very particular about her parking spot. No one should park there, except her.
Fine and dandy, except I didn’t find out the full extent of her stinginess until I parked in that very spot. I also snapped a picture and texted it to her with the words “Lol” written in the message.
The next day, she was unusually cold. No discussion, no small talk, no questions about the weekend.
Me: “Good morning!”
Me: “How was your weekend?”
A bad morning, I figured. A few bad mornings later, I got a phone call from a local women’s group wanting to know if we had an American flag to use for an upcoming convention. I took a note and asked Emma about it.
Me: “Emma, do we have an American flag to use?”
Emma: “I’ll take care of it…”
Me: “Is there something in the back?”
Emma: “I’LL TAKE CARE OF IT!”
She stared daggers at me like never before. Must’ve been an absolutely sh*tty day for her.
A few weeks later (her attitude had not changed), she was out on a weekend vacation. She left me a note to NOT touch a stack of folders on her desk. As with her parking spot, I snapped a photo of my finger on her folders — a simple photo in what was supposed to be harmless co-worker humor.
On the day of her return, I noticed her attitude had suddenly gotten worse. Her breaths came in huffs and she spoke in grunts. Then…
Me: “Are you okay?”
Emma: “Yeah! I REALLY did not appreciate your text! I was out on vacation and that was NOT what I needed! Oh, and I did not appreciate your text about MY PARKING SPACE either! Got it!”
From that point forward, I may as well have been the bane of Emma’s existence.
On most days, she wouldn’t even say a word to me. When she did, it was usually in the form of a nasty email insisting that I was messing up her “process,” screwing up paperwork, and just being an overall nuisance — with my supervisor and H.R. CC’d in on it, respectively.
Bear in mind, we only sat five feet away from each other.
Talking with a superior later (we would have many discussions about Emma in my time there), I learned that none of this was new. Emma had this dilemma with one co-worker after the next. I just happened to be another one on the receiving end of her tantrums.
So here I was stuck in an office with an affluent little brat who wanted me to resign on the spot. Worst of all — I had developed feelings for her.
I’d hear love songs, read romance novels, watch rom coms and think of a future — never to be — of us hand-in-hand. I even dreamt about us sitting on a bench with my arm around her and a content smile on her face.
I woke up and realized that I had a crush on Emma, and I was f*cked.
I didn’t disclose this to my boss, or anyone else. I went to work every day with the hopes that I could improve my standing with her. Obviously, we had our differences, but the lessons I learned would make it all worth it.
Using The Opportunity To Grow
Our time together was a chance for me to mature. I had entered my 30’s but was still behaving like a horny 20-something-year-old.
My antics (with the parking spot and her folder) stemmed from a childish desire to make her laugh. It didn’t work, no matter how many times I tried.
Ultimately, I had to hold back and let the chips fall into place. Here or there, I would say something, and Emma would either giggle or laugh off-to-the-side. There was no effort on my part, but that might have been the key — I wasn’t trying as hard as I was before.
It really paid more to just “be myself,” as they say. She didn’t seem to care either way, but it certainly felt better.
Accepting The Differences
With the exception of “Hello,” “See you tomorrow,” and, “Have a good weekend,” most days with Emma would be consumed by bitter silence.
As I learned to hold back, I learned to accept that Emma was just not into my approach to life — nor was I into hers. There’s nothing wrong with being friendly, but you certainly cannot be friends with everyone.
I hoped, and even prayed, that Emma would liven up and see me as a potential match — or at least a friend — one day. Instead, all I could do was accept things the way they were. I saw her as Aphrodite, she saw me as Borat.
We all interact with each other for a reason, and sometimes our polar opposites are there to remind us about the ups and downs to life. I saw life as a whimsical farce whereas Emma saw it as a tragedy needing a bittersweet outcome. In this light, I learned to take life a little more seriously.
Enjoying The Good Times While They Last
I’d be lying if I said it was all bad. It wasn’t.
For her most recent birthday, I gave Emma a copy of Born On The Fourth Of July, as we were both Nam buffs.
Emma: “I f*cking HATE Tom Cruise!”
Me: “So do I…but it has Willem Dafoe in it.”
Emma: “I f*cking LOVE Willem Dafoe!”
My time with Emma was a never-ending thunderstorm, but here or there, we found ourselves in an impromptu discussion. Those little moments were quick and temporary, but I came to cherish them — along with so many others outside the office.
Moving (The F*ck) On
Despite my efforts to resemble something of a man in her eyes, the best thing I could do was to go on my way— and I did.
In February of 2020, I accepted a new job as a route driver. Our last days together were uneventful, but that was a feat. I wasn’t pulling silly jokes on her, nor was I acting like a horny 20-something-year-old trying to get attention.
I had grown while she had not, which may have been inevitable.
My long-awaited last day finally came, and I’m sure I still pissed her off more than ever.
In the past, she had mentioned that her favorite movie was Casablanca. Definitely a classic and a favorite of mine too. In our final minutes together, I threw my shoulders back and made my feelings known.
Me: “I hope this doesn’t ruin the movie, but…Here’s to looking at you kid.”
I reached my arms out for our first, last, and only hug to date.
Emma: “…oh my god…”
It was the most half-assed, dispassionate embrace I ever received — but it was worth it. At least she didn’t hate me enough to refuse.
Our problems stemmed from the fact that we were just totally different people. We meshed well with our interests, but otherwise, we were like peanut butter and battery acid.
In place of bitterness though, there’s sympathy. I didn’t learn much about Emma in our time together, but it was obvious something heavy weighed on her shoulders which kept her in a dark place. It was never anything I could remedy, no matter how hard I tried. She had her journey, and I had mine.
Recently, in my route van, I pulled into a parking space next to a four-way stop. Emma just happened to pull up and look my way. I smiled and waved, showing her that I was alive and well. She promptly drove away with her nose turned up in the style of Nurse Ratched, Curella DeVille, and Joan Crawford — and still oddly beautiful as ever.
She didn’t look back, but I kept smiling — still my happy, bubbly self.
Thanks for everything, Emma! :)