Monday, April 02, 2007

British stand-off

The idea of a ‘Mexican stand-off’ is pretty well-known: two (or more) people have guns pointed at each other and cannot back down for fear of being shot, nor can they fire for fear of being shot. It’s not a concept that reflects too well on Mexico, I have to say.

Over here, we’re a bit more genteel about such battles of will.

To get the meeting room I was going to this morning, I had to go through door A and then door B in quick succession – they’re in walls at right angles to each other, both next to the same corner.

As I opened door A, another guy coming in the opposite direction opened door B. We stepped most of the way through our respective doors and then held them open.

“After you.”
“No, after you.”
“No, no, I insist.”

A tumbleweed blew along the corridor. A low, sinister, harmonica phrase carried on the wind from who knew where. My eyes narrowed. He darted a glance at the arm I was using to hold open my door, judging his reach against mine.

I knew that the only way to get out of this alive was to play it smart, so I turned my opponent’s strength against him:

“That’s very kind of you; if you want me to go first, I’ll be happy to oblige.”

He seemed pleased. We passed, and it was only as both doors were swinging closed behind us that he realised I’d gained the upper hand by converting his polite offer into a personal desire that needed a generous favour from me. But by then it was too late, as his blood seeped into the dusty office carpet tiles. The first vultures started circling. Soon, de rigueur mortis would set in.

I was the better man. And it felt awfully nice.

No comments: