No Filter

by Ree Miller…

Have you ever wondered what it would be like if you said what you were really thinking? Rather than filtering yourself the way we all do?

At work today, I found out.

“Good morning, Ree,” the always pleasant receptionist said as I entered the lobby. “How are you today?”

I intended to respond in the same way I always do; something like, “I’m good, Patty, how about yourself?” But instead I said, “Would be a shitload better if I didn’t have to be here.”

While I was slightly horrified and very confused by what I said, Patty just nodded
sympathetically.

I spent the next few hours in my office, not talking to anyone. By the time I headed to a noon meeting, I had almost forgotten my odd exchange with Patty.

I was the first to arrive in the small airless conference room and waited for the others, relishing the silence.

My boss Amy walked in. “Just you and me? Sorry I’m late, but it looks like Jack and Nicole are going to be late as well,” she said, smiling. Amy is all our boss.

I started to say, No worries, but was suddenly afraid of what might come out.

“No worries,” I said.

Whew.

Jack arrived. As usual, he was carrying a sandwich. For reasons not essential to this story, I hate him and he hates me.

“Hi, Amy,” he said, ignoring me. “Do you mind if I eat?” He was already unwrapping his sandwich, a sausage/pepper/onion abomination.

“No, not at all,” Amy said. “It smells great. Don’t you think so, Ree?” Amy knew that Jack and I hated each other and sometimes tried to get us to exchange pleasantries.

I intended to say, It looks good, if you like that sort of thing. (Even when my filter is in place, I tend to be direct.)  But what I actually said was, “It stinks. It’s going to choke us all out. So fucking rude, Jack.”

My words stunned me, but neither Amy nor Jack reacted as if I had said anything out of character.

The kiss-up, Nicole, entered the conference room and sat down.

“Hi, Nicole,” Amy and Jack said in unison.

“Hey, guys. Hey, Ree.”

“Hey,” I said, digging my nails into my palm.

“Can we get started?” Nicole asked. “I’m really busy today.”

“Good idea, Nicole,” Amy said.

You’re the one who was late, I thought but didn’t say. It seemed I could stay quiet if I wanted to; it was only when I spoke that I lost control.

“So,” Nicole said, addressing Amy. “I know we’re here to discuss Ree’s idea on how to deal with Bev.”

Bev is a client who is giving us fits.

“Personally, I don’t think it holds water; but I want to hear what you and Jack think.”

“Hmm,” Amy said. “What do you think, Ree?”

On any other day, I would have said something like I think it’s a sound idea, but certainly, let’s discuss it. I’m open to all ideas. Today, however, I knew that when I opened my mouth, something else entirely was going to come out.

“Jesus, Nicole, it’s an idea, not a fucking camel.”

Nicole sighed. “Oh Ree, you’re always so defensive.”

I looked at Jack, who was focused on opening a bag of chips. I looked at Amy, who was looking at her shoes.

I thought I should apologize for being so brusque, but what I said instead was, “You might be defensive too, if you ever came up an idea worth defending.”

Jack was about to take a bite from his sandwich, but put it down instead. “That’s harsh,” he said. “but kind of true.”

“What?” Nicole said.

“You do have a habit of shooting other people’s ideas down without offering any of your own,” he said.

I thought for a moment that maybe I would stop hating him, but then he said, “Not that I think Ree’s idea is any good.”

I looked at Amy and said, “You need to say something. You’re our boss. Take a stand for a change. Any stand, for fuck’s sake.”

I held my breath. You don’t talk to your boss that way, even one who is as low-key as Amy.

She sat silently for a few seconds; then said, “You’re right, Ree. I should take a stand. But I won’t. I don’t want to be in the middle of anything or be the boss of anyone. I’ve been thinking about quitting. I have a friend who’s buying a flower shop. She’s looking for a partner. I’m going to invest. That’s what I want to do.”

She got up, standing straight. “Thank you,” she said. “You really helped me. I’m going to go write my resignation letter.” She was beaming.

Is my filter ever coming back? Hard to say. I’m going to see my mother after work today. Guess we’ll find out.

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About the Author
After spending a long and painful career in corporate America, Ree Miller decided to write about what she knows best: sitting on her butt. Since then, she has written two novels: Butts in the Seat, and her other passion, Butts on the Bar Stool. Find out more about Ree Miller at mmcwordsetc.wordpress.com.


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