please don’t say he’s going to hug me

19 Apr

There I was starting a new teaching assignment, teaching ESL (English as a Second Language) to Spanish-speaking employees at a large company in the Bronx.

Everything was going swimmingly until the Big Bad Boss (BBB) of the company (presiding over some 600 employees) marched in and in tones of great pomposity and self-importance, preceded to give a speech to the hundreds of gathered minions about the importance of improving their English communication skills.

Only problem was there were only around 15 people in the room – me and my students – so we were all rendered deafened and stunned into submission within about ten seconds of the start of this roaring message of bountifulness.

Everything was larger than life and glistening on the BBB – his tremendous stature, his starched white shirt pulled tight over his bulging midriff,  his gleaming whiter than white fangs, the luminescent orangey-brown fake tan on his chubby cheeks, the slicked-back shiny locks on his head, the large buckled belt buoying up said midriff from below. And surely that wasn’t a pair of gleaming cowboy-style boots I could see peeping out below his trousers?

I thought I’d seen the worst of it as the speech drew to a close. But boy was I in for a treat. The BBB then fixed his shiny beady gaze on me, the teacher providing this great service to his underlings. He strode majestically over towards me as he thanked me for my services.

All meek European me could do was start shying away as he came thundering ever closer.

To no avail.

I brandished my paw hurriedly so as to stem his relentless progress towards me. He robustly shook my hand – and the rest of my 5″7 being in the process.

And then.

He came closer still.

I backed away.

And then.

I ran out of backing-into space as I hit the furthermost wall.

And then.

The BBB took me in his hairy paws and gripped me in a giant grappling bear hug.

I cringed, I froze, I blushed from the upper-most roots of my hair to the lower-most toes on my feet.

My students asked me afterwards why I had looked so terrified.

I told them that not in all my years working in the cold-blooded metropolises of London and Paris, would any boss have ever, in a million years, done more than shake my hand on the first day of a new job. Personal space is something we take very seriously in the Old World workplace.

They needed to know that bear hugs were most definitely a phenomenon exclusive to the New World where they, and I, were now residing.


6 Responses to “please don’t say he’s going to hug me”

  1. Abigail April 19, 2010 at 17:16 #

    BRILLIANT RED!!!! Admit it- u are so Englisher through and through hah ha haaaaaa!!!

  2. Carmith April 19, 2010 at 21:27 #

    “not in all my years working in the cold-blooded metropolises of London and Paris, would any boss have ever, in a million years, done more than shake my hand” ahahahahhhhahhh love this line!

    you should watch THE OFFICE – US Version!

  3. Daniella June 30, 2010 at 17:05 #

    Hilarious Hag, was cracking up. Can just hear you saying this and can totally picture the scene. hysterical! x

  4. barks July 1, 2010 at 07:24 #

    ha ha Rebs, remember NOT to forward to the BBB – he might not appreciate the buoying up of said midriff and shiny locks…I think its cute that you have ‘bonded’. My boss shakes my hand EVERY morning – the French haven’t got it right either!


  1. My top ten New York moments of 2010 « rebeccainspace - January 19, 2011

    […] 5) The cringeworthy hug moment at work, when the big bad stentorian shiny plastic-coated American boss gripped me in a huge inescapable bear-hug to welcome me into his company. (click here for related post, “Please don’t say he’s going to hug me”). […]

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