Being honest, I hated that nickname,
feared how degrading it would be
if the man at the end of the break table
knew how it was passed around,
but I’d also be lying if I said
he didn’t earn it to some degree.

It would be wholly unfair of me
to list grievances where he can’t defend;
just know that I have never known a man
whose behavior was so off-putting
in every single way
that everyone around could shut him out.

The women at the table
didn’t even want to look in his direction
so he ate his food staring blankly ahead.
And every so often, when we did try to talk,
he met questions and comments
with silence, staring blankly ahead.

It was hard for me in a different way.
He sat with us because he knew me.
We had met several times before
at church events, no less,
where I recognized some quirks but otherwise thought
he was a decent and intelligent man.

Now I can’t presume what was happening
within that head of his,
whether some disorder disrupted him
or he just never learned self-perception,
but there was hardly ever an effort made
to make himself more likeable.

We were all relieved at his moving on,
the burden at the end of the table lifted.
Maybe we were happier than we had a right to be
but it’s hard to say.
We had all tried at first.
All human beings just have their limits.

As for me, I can only hope
that his new future is better suited for him.
At the same time, I pray I did enough
to share God’s love with this man.
It’s just, what can you do when that man
won’t try sharing God’s love with himself?