Virtually without fail, every day I go to work, there's this little scene that plays out.
I'll be walking down the hall, someone will catch sight of me, they will gasp with unspeakable horror, sometimes scream with alarm, often clutch at their chest, and then, after a bit of nervous laughter while I give an increasingly half-hearted and insincere apology for frightening them ("Yes, yes, I know. I am a being of inconceivable horror and the sight of me is a sure portent of doom and destruction for those unfortunate enough to gaze upon my grim visage," I will say), they will go about their business.
I have long since come to accept this as the reality of my workplace experience, and to a lesser extent other social activities. Some months ago, I was hanging out with my friend Ray and his then-new girlfriend. The day was spent amiably enough, with nothing but casual and friendly conversation, I thought, but when I asked Ray about it afterwards, he reported back to me that she was apparently scared of me. I berated him for dating a woman of such weak character and timid bearings, and then accepted his apologies on the basis that she's soft and she smells nice.
Indeed, to a certain extent, I suppose I've come to embrace it; there is some wisdom, after all, to playing to one's strengths. I acknowledge that I am a huge and looming figure, towering over and dwarfing all around me. I realize that I am a black-clad mountain, with a long mane of hair like a barbarian chieftain of old. I suppose that I have even come to live within that role; stealthing through the corridors like the spectre of death, with a bearing of stern and silent condemnation of all the works of mankind upon my mighty brow.
And yet, even in light of this, last night there was an occasion which even I felt was in some sense beyond the pale.
I was standing in the elevator, arms crossed upon my mighty chest, waiting patiently to get to where I was going. A young asian woman was standing outside, and as the doors opened up, she immediately yelped with fear, clutching at her chest as she visibly jumped backwards in alarm. At this, some measure of my composure slipped.
"Oh, come on!" I demanded, "I'm just standing here! I get it when people are horrified when I come looming around a corner or savaging a corpse or something, something, but I'm just standing here! What in the world is so scary about that?"
She offered no coherent response, and for all I know that may have just been a product of lackluster English language skills. It could as easily be the case, though, that I had so traumatized her by my mere presence that I had destroyed her capacity for verbalization, reverting her to a state of atavistic, lizard-brained horror. I choose, in fact, to embrace this latter as being the better version of the story to tell.
I begin to suspect that I have leveled up my intimidation statistic entirely too much, and it is now beginning to become a hindrance rather than a merit.