Tearing a hole in your heart at the coffee cart

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October 6, 2003 // UPDATED 11:05 am - April 30, 2007
By: Julie Swenson
Julie Swenson

Breaking up is hard to do, if you work in the same building

I used to think that Downtown was the best place to be when nursing a broken heart. There are no happy, stroller-pushing mommies on the Nicollet Mall because they'd get hit by a bus. No one is dumb enough to slink along hand-in-hand through the skyways at lunch hour because you'd get mowed over by the oncoming foot traffic.

Downtown during the day is all about finding parking, getting work done, collecting a paycheck and, if you are lucky, having a little fun while you do it. Happy couples don't fit into the mix. In fact, you're more likely to see scruffy, rushed people who look like you feel; exhausted and stressed out.

I just figured out that this theory only works if you work Downtown and the one who "needs space" works in Blaine. You are free to refer to him openly by his real, full name in the middle of a lunch because no one in earshot could possibly know him. If someone hanging around does know him, he/she is probably lost and needs you to show him/her the way back to I-694.

However, what's a girl to do if her freshly minted ex works in the same building she does? (Not in the same company; I'm not even going near that train wreck.) Co-worker breakups require professional skills they never taught me in art school. I only ask the question: How do you handle walking in and out of the same doors everyday, riding the same elevators and frequenting the same Caribou Coffee cart as the guy who just tore a hole in your heart?

The preparation starts well before you get to work. Make sure you wear your sexiest shoes every day for the next year. Higher heels make for higher self-esteem, and no matter how bad your mascara looks from a spontaneous crying jag during your drive in, your shoes will look great. Better yet, forget mascara for at least the next week.

Next, load up your car with the right music and pay special attention to the last song you hear before you leave the sanctity of your vehicle for the day. My standbys: the black T-shirt song on Ben Folds Five's "Forever and Ever Amen" and the 45-minute extended dance version of Whitney Houston's "It's Not Right, But It's OK." Feeling more deflated and regretful than angry? Pop in Joe Jackson asking if she's really going out with him or the latest Beck album. Whatever you choose; walk in to the building of doom humming it to yourself for instant reinforcement in case of a morning ambush.

Once inside, keep your sunglasses on while you scan the lobby. If he's there, just breeze by as if you didn't see him because you still had your dark glasses on. Then let out a major sigh of relief. Since you already saw him once today, the karmic law of the perpetual broken heart will not allow you to run into him twice in one day.

Head through the lobby to the elevator like any other day. If you are stuck with him for 35 floors, rely on the Polite Brush-Off technique: 1. Take in half a breath while smiling half a smile. 2. Say "good morning," or "what a lovely fall day." 3. Keep smiling and look up, you physically can't cry if your eyeballs are looking up. 4. Smile again. 5. Under no circumstances are you to look into his gorgeous, smiling eyes that got you in this mess in the first place. 6. Get off the elevator. 7. Don't look back.

Wherever you run into him, treat him like the stranger he is to you now. You are showing him that you have already gotten busy forgetting who he was and why you liked him so much. Yes, you are totally faking it, but it's a good way to keep it together until he realizes what he's lost or you really do forget his name.

Julie Swenson occasionally sports a broken heart but owns a together p.r. company. She can be reached at Julie@abbaspr.com.