Pushing back as hard as I can, I still find myself drawn inexorably inwards by his greater strength. My outstretched hand hits his chest first, then slides up as I can’t hold the distance between us. When he finally stops pulling me towards him, my right hand is up under his chin, forcing his head back.
It happens so fast that I have no time to consider whether to resist or not. Grabbed, I am just in reaction mode from the get-go. As everything comes to a standstill, I realize that the others in the room are laughing.
Others? Laughing? Well, yes.
Our project team’s core group is joined occasionally by people from other companies. This is such an occasion: a senior sales rep from one of our partners has shown up in town for a few days to do what he fondly believes is work. He’s not my favourite, but I’ve made some effort to see that he doesn’t know that. A big, hearty, how-the-hell-are-ya guy, as he comes into the room he makes a big fuss when he sees me.
Playing along reluctantly, I get up.
And I hold out my right hand.
Genius of subtle social cues that he is, it all goes south from there.
I think of this 25-year-old interaction from time to time: most recently on 21 Jun when my calendar of “life’s little instructions” offered me this wisdom:
If a woman offers you a handshake,
she’s not wanting a hug.
I couldn’t have put it any more clearly myself.