What Wasn't Said

We mistake what for why—and how! And it's almost certainly easier to see that fact when the who doing the mistaking is you and not me. What am I talking about?

I've been thinking about this little episode since it happened last Friday after work:

"Can I still get out this door?" I asked the security guard. "Just quick?"

Cordon blue
It was just after 6 pm and that meant the security guard was installing a cordon to prevent people from using that side door to get out of the building. I was tired, I was carrying loaded bicycle panniers, I was questioning how I overlooked a potential danger at work, and all that emotional chop mean I didn't really want to walk around the building to get to the bike cage, which was just on the other side of the barred door.

"Sorry, no," he said with a kind of slow-motion, toothless smile.

I knew that was coming. I turned around, but then turned back and asked: "Why not? Why can't I just quickly scootch under?"

"Unfortunately, we have to limit access to the building after hours," he returned.

I thought you think it's unfortunate? No you don't. It's not unfortunate. You don't think it's unfortunate. But I didn't say anything.

He clearly wasn't intending to say anything more. I had asked why I couldn't go out and he told me what he was doing. But I didn't point that out either. Instead, I answered the question myself. Maybe because I wanted to point out that I had asked why? Maybe because I wanted to have the last word? Maybe because I was suddenly talking only to myself, and that I was troubled by my unheard attack triggered by the thin adverb?

"Right, I get it. Other people could come in as I was leaving and that's not what you want."

He smiled. And I walked around the building to get to my bicycle.

And I used a key to open the cage. And then flicked on my bike lights.



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