Time and Chance

Time and Chance

It was late and I was in the office. I might have been working hard … or hardly working.
Maybe just idling while the “file” completed downloading unto my external drive which was going to crash dramatically later that same night taking away with it lots of important documents – but that is another story.
I took an incoming call, spoke for some minutes and hung up. The gentleman came in at about that moment. He had been just about waiting at the doorway for me to end my call.

“Good evening. Apologies Sir. Sorry to disturb you. I heard your voice and couldn’t but help coming in.”

He walked towards my seat but he was more interested in the inanimate objects on the table.
He gestured at a few dirty cups around the office.

“Please can I take these?”

I said yes. I remembered I had seen him earlier in the office kitchenette when he had helped me wash a teaspoon while I waited at the door. For some reason I had taken off my shoes and went there in my socks. The office and the hallways were carpeted but the kitchenette had a tiled floor which was a little wet in parts when I got there. I had assumed he was one of the office assistants even though I was seeing him for the first time. But he was more than willing to help and I said thanks and went my way.

“You see. Google across the hall is having a programme and we need all the tea cups and spoons for tomorrow.”

“Yes. I noticed there were quite a lot of people there in the afternoon.”

By then he was at the door.

“Thanks again for this.” he said gesturing at the cups and spoons in his hands.

“Hey, why don’t you come over and check out what we are doing with the place?” he was all smiles.

I hesitated a little. I wasn’t particularly curious. Also I had looked in briefly the previous Friday when they were moving in. Also that afternoon during or after their “session” or so, they had left the door open for some time and I had seen parts of the interior on my way to my office.

But he insisted.

So I got up and crossed into the other office.

“What do you think?”

Looked nice and not quite like a formal office. I guess this is one of those perks Google is known for: some section of the office space to make staff and guests really feel at home.

“I am setting up the place now. By tomorrow it will be totally different.” He spoke in terms that sounded as if he was one of the “proper” Google staff. That sounds unkind I know, but if you want to know, I have colleagues that can tell you a thing or two about how precarious even the position of so-called full employees are in such companies.

He showed me the refreshment table by the door. “You see this is why I needed all the cups and spoons.” Nicely laid out were several rows of porcelain white tea cups, teaspoons and saucers. He literally beamed at them.

“By tomorrow this place will be hustling and bustling. So the place has to be ready.”

I looked around some more, not really moving too much since it was one big colorful room and I could see the whole place from just inside the doorway where I was.
I thanked him and retreated into the hall separating the two offices.

“My name is E. P. What is yours?” He spoke well and with confidence.


“Wow! That was my father’s name. He was the first Surveyor General of this country.”

I nodded my head and let it show on my face that I was impressed.
I don’t want to slander him but I thought I had caught a whiff of something stronger than deodorant on him while he had been in my office. Especially since at some point, he was standing next to my table while talking to me. I would also have sworn under oath that he was just imperceptibly unsteady on his feet. Then there was the fact that he was too “friendly” for someone who hardly knew me and had more or less invaded our office space by literally inviting himself in.
A few more pleasantries. He thanked me a few more times and I went back into my office and he into the Google-verse.
I would take a wild guess that he came from a reasonably affluent background especially given his command of English and his confidence and possibly the position he claimed his dad had occupied long ago. At least he was doing an honest job. But I couldn’t quite shake the feeling that several years back when he was younger, he might have been running around some impressive household while other waited on him, and there he was that night picking up late after the Google invitees (they made me feel old 🙂 and their hosts had left. Setting the place in order for their return the following morning.

I could of course be completely wrong about him.

But then time and chance happens to us all. And what those two don’t cover, there is always the thing the Yorubas call “A fo wo fa.” to even things out rather unsatisfactorily for all concerned. Otherwise Adam wouldn’t have discovered that there was such a feeling as regret (and the modern world we live in is proof that it all went south from there onwards).

“And God was walking in the garden in the cool of the evening. And Adam was hiding crouched over in the bushes biting his nails with gut-wrenching regret.”

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Ecclesiastes 9:11-12
“I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.
For man also knoweth not his time: as the fishes that are taken in an evil net, and as the birds that are caught in the snare; so are the sons of men snared in an evil time, when it falleth suddenly upon them.”