Old Friends

Chiang got his start in the industry when Johnson hired him. They shared an office for five years, sitting directly across from one another, each hardly able to avoid the other's gaze.

The two were perfect opposites in nearly every way. Chiang stood a skinny five foot five, his ankles and wrists famously small. One could easily lose sight of him in a crowded room. Johnson's bulky six foot four frame towered over him as did his overbearing, often condescending presence. They worked together seamlessly. Johnson the face and voice of the enterprise, always on the phone and animated in their shared office, his temperament jumping from jovial to bellicose at a moment's notice. Chiang the quiet guy behind the scenes researching their next moves, analyzing data, uncovering new leads and passing them on to Johnson. Johnson at the bar having a few too many with their suppliers and customers. Chiang at home awake into the wee hours taking notes. Everything was peaches until Chiang got a little too comfortable for Johnson's liking. It didn't have a chance of lasting long thereafter, and when Chiang told Johnson he'd be moving to Hong Kong and taking over his uncle's trading company, Johnson felt relief that he wouldn't have to fire his daytime roommate.

Ten years removed from Chiang's decision to leave Johnson, as Johnson's business relationships teetered on the edge of dissolution, the two encountered each other at a tradeshow in Shanghai. Johnson didn't recognize Chiang at first – he'd gained significant weight. They spoke briefly and went their separate ways. Chiang displayed a confidence Johnson had never observed in him before, but Johnson sensed a falseness about his old friend, a deep insecurity beneath the surface. Johnson smiled when he thought of Chiang's rotund figure, his bulging belly hanging over a hidden belt. He laughed before suddenly feeling angry, equating Chiang's obesity with success he must've experienced since their split.

The industry had room for the both of them: their cunning, their rationalizations, their whispered conversations with others like them around the globe. But whether the world would have room for the industry, that was another question entirely, one it would answer in time.

4 comments:

  1. Ah the world and its ever declining industry..........

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  2. Interesting piece. What exactly was the industry? I suppose it doesn't really matter though, as it's about their friendship not the business. :)

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  3. This sounds like it was ripped from the pages of corporate life. The user lost his tool, and perhaps the tool became a user?

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  4. Sounds like they're both soon to be outdated!

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