Person - a time I had it all wrong

I first 'met' a guy, we'll call him Paul, at work by email. It was a routine note asking about status of a stalled project but the note was not written in the casual style of most emails. It had a full, formal greeting, a cogent body of strictly correct grammar, impeccable sentence and paragraph structure, and a formal closing. I answered his note and didn't think much about it until a few months later when I got another email similar to the first. Embarrassed that the project had not advanced, I decided to call him instead of emailing in order to explain the context and circumstances of the effort. His phone demeanor was every bit as formal as his writing but the call went reasonably well enough.


6 Months later, I found myself reassigned to the part of the organization where Paul worked, in fact, on the same team. He looked every bit like I had imagined. White guy, grey hair, 60s, thin, kinda severe features, wire glasses. I learned that he was retired military. Straight from central casting when the director wanted to convey a 2-dimensional, stick-up-the-butt conservative foil for the fun-loving, lovable main character. He was professional and seemed to keep pretty much to himself. He *always* took copious notes in meetings, and would frequently refer back to dates and times 12-18 months in the past (seemingly from memory) to remind the group of what someone had said or done. "Well, in an email from Jan 16th, 2019, Ms. VanVlack told us to stand down from preparations for phase ii ....". My radar was suggesting 'stay clear', so I did.


6 months more go by and our management rearranged the teams including seating changes. I was given a desk right next to Paul. Further I was made team lead with Paul as my co-lead. It wasn't exactly like the Odd Couple, but it was close. Within a couple hours of that first day in our new positions, I began to see him in a very different light.


Wow, does he like to kibitz ! And wow could he spin a yarn ! Old times growing up in his home town, old times in his military career, stories since his retirement, stories of his kids growing up and today, stories of his grand kids' exploits, on and on. He is funny too. I really became charmed by him and our working relationship flourished. I learned that he does wonderful volunteer work supporting the immigrant community in his neighborhood that inspired me to begin doing the same in mine. I consider him a friend now and miss being with him during the work day now that we are no longer working in the office for social distancing. I'm so glad that it turned out that I had it completely wrong.

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