It was a heavy and exciting time for me. I had just fielded a huge position on a software engineering team. The company was growing and we kept adding on talent. I met new people every day and built up my network of great friends. A new employee sat down in the cubicle next to me. We’ll call him Lou. Although I didn’t care for the smell of Lou’s foods he brought into the office, we hit it off after a few discussions about music and development techniques.
After a couple of weeks, Lou and I would have lunch together almost every day. We would even sneak out for a late afternoon coffee break to talk most days. Things built up to a point where I even asked him to be a part of my wedding. Little did I know that I had let a cancer in that would soon get out of control.
The conversations between Lou and I got deeper into our personal lives. We had double-dates and I met the woman he had been living with for several years. Let’s call her Kate. Kate was a sweet woman who my wife and I enjoyed talking with a lot. Which made it difficult to later learn that my new friend had decided he wanted to be with another woman. A woman (we’ll call her Summer) who was already engaged to another one of Lou’s friends.
You read that corectly! My new friend Lou revealed to me he had cheated on his girlfriend of several years with his friend’s fiance. Lou then told me he would be leaving Kate in an effort to persue his friend’s fiance, Summer.
Can you say red flag? This signal’s went off “This is a cancerous person! Get away!” It wasn’t that easy since this guy was deeply engrained in my circle of friends and worked in the company and department I worked in. While this news seemed to turn off Lou’s other friends to the point of them cutting ties completely, I tried to make sense of it. Lou made me feel sorry for him. He’d take me out to lunch and get to the point of almost tears when talking about what he had done to Kate.
I had decided to stick around for Lou. I’d be there for him and see how things worked out. After a few weeks, Lou got his wish, and Summer had left her fiance for him. But something had changed in Lou. He had become so much more negative to be around. He complained constantly about friends and co-workers. One time he tried to get a couple of developers fired, developers who were a part of our frindship tribe. In the same day he would sit and smile at them like he was the best of friends with these guys. The next, he was trying to cause them to lose their livelihood.
I started to wonder about Lou. Does he talk smack about me behind my back like he does all of these other people? No way! I mean he has told me some deep stuff about his life. We’re besties! It’s different with us. It’s still not a good character trait to talk behind your friend and co-worker’s backs. I wanted to cut off our friendship. So I started talking to Lou less.
One day Lou came to my desk looking as sad as anybody could. He then revealed to me that Summer had decided she needed to think some things through. He needed somebody to talk to. I lended him my ear at the local bar. He shared all the secrets he had about Summer and him. He was bummed. But I thought maybe this would be the kick in the pants he needed to not be such a jerk. I shared some of my jerky moments from my life in an effort to relate to him. Just like that, I was pulled back into Lou’s world.
Summer eventually decided to come back though. And that’s when I got to experience the true cancer Lou was. Lou had decided to stop talking to me as much. I only started seeing Lou at large group lunches when other people happened to invite me. Lou had cut me out. On top of that, I noticed that others in our group started to not talk to me as much. I got less smiles from them. What was going on?
I noticed that I had been unfriended by a few friends on Facebook. Friends I didn’t expect to be unfriended by. OK, I guess friends come and go right? But I started to get a strange vibe from many of the people around me. Something wasn’t right. I just suddently didn’t feel as loved as I used to. My fears were realized when I went to a local code camp and came across an old friend who had run in the same circles as Lou and I. He was a bit silent with me, which was unlike him. I asked him what was up, and after some pressing, he broke. He told me everything Lou had said about me and why he didn’t want to speak with me anymore.
I was floored! This guy was mad at me for things I had never even said. Lou had painted me as a complete jerk. He used some of the personal details I shared with him against me, and even better, said things about me to others that actually applied to him. He had convinced others I was a problem, and was trying to get people fired. I even found out he even told one person that I was trying to steal his wife (Lou was the one actually trying to steal his wife).
The cancer had spread throughout my network. All the info I provided through deep conversation with Lou was used against me. I still don’t know where al the cancer is so that I can get rid of it. I’m sure Lou’s cancer has reached friends in my life and I may never know it.
Had I eradicated the cancer when I first learned of it when I realized Lou was willing to leave his woman for his friend’s finance, it was the signal, a beacon telling me “Run! Don’t let this person in your life anymore!”.
Thankfully, Lou is no longer around. He moved about 700 miles away to live with Summer. But the cancer he left behind will take years for the people he affected to clean up.