Quippishness Aside

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love what you do, love who you are

Tommeka Semien

 Recently, I bumped into a former co-worker.  When I offered a jolly “Hey, how’s it going?”, the gentlemen looked right through me as if  perhaps I was invisible or, worse, insignificant.  Not faltering, I continued on, reminding him of how we knew each other (from the 90’s) .  He gave me the quick “up and down” and said, “Oh goodness, I hardly recognized you.  You look so different.”

As luck would have it, I was standing in front of a mirror.  I looked at him, then gave myself a side glance.  I thought, “Well, it’s not as tight as it was twenty years ago.  He’s probably right.  I guess I do look different.”  Then I looked at him and thought, “Whatever.  You are a man with junk in your trunk.”

Pressing on (because I apparently have a dang problem), I asked about his family…  “fine.”  I asked about life in general…  “fine.”  Then, I asked about work.  Before I knew it, the conversation had flipped to me…  “Where are you?  Still at the same place?  It’s a shame, you were so smart.  I thought that you could have made something of yourself.  Didn’t you want to do something, anything else?”

My response, “Uhm…”   Meanwhile, words continued to flow from this dude’s mouth (word vomit).  Though he had no memory of me, he apparently remembered everyone else who had worked at the same time.  “Marty is still not bright but doing well…  Connie is happy, on her third husband and fifth child, not to mention the step children..    Do you remember Becky with the good hair?  Me neither.”

With each mention of a former co-worker, there was a complement and then a quip.   A quip…  a remark that is meant to be funny and offensive at the same time.  A quip…  a joke made in perhaps poor taste.  A quip…  an insult, a dig, a wisecrack, a put down.   Each quip was rattled off with a smile on his face and enthusiasm in his voice.



Once I escaped the quip-tosser, I felt a little deflated.  I questioned myself and my life.  Did I make bad choices?  Did I miss an opportunity or so along the way?   Have I wasted my life?  Could I have been more than what I am today?  Am I a big disappointment?  Do people feel sorry for me?

As I mentally relived the word vomit, I accepted that the answer to all of my questions was a resounding “YES”.  I have definitely strolled on the dark side, skipped past my pot of gold, and sat on my azz sometimes.  I have probably disappointed my family and friends; my skin has burned from pity-filled stares; and I most certainly could have chosen a different path or two.

And so it goes…  The word vomit dude can just fly away!  I love my life—crazy man, nutty kids,  close-knit family, awesome friends, baggage and skeletons (bygones).   I love my job—fast-paced, stressful, and filled with challenges that tug at my mind and heart.  I love me—an emotionally charged problem solver who’s angry and happy all at the same time.

After the quip-tossing, word vomit strewn encounter with my former co-worker, I had to remind myself of few things that have helped me on my personal journey.  These are things that I remind my co-workers and my kids of often.  First, know your worth—never let someone else determine it.  Second, life is a journey—most days, you should work a little harder than the day before.  Third, “comfortable” is a dirty word—strive to leave your safety net sometimes.  Finally, be nice or be quiet—enough said!



Tommeka Semien is a non-profit professional, mom of three and two extras.


Online editor for Hers magazine.

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