It's been a while, with lockdown and all, but after many months I have seen the ringleader of the big TN exclusion campaign again. This evidently took place in an environment where we have no choice but to collaborate. I wasn't looking forward to it! But as this was a regulated environment, he was not free to engage in boycotting or any of that sort of stuff here.
I wasn't sure what to expect; initially I expected him to pretend nothing had happened. Just try that and see if I would go along with that. However, in spring he had been suspiciously uncollaborative via email, so that had made me suspicious he was getting carried away. If his boycott had been successful underground, maybe he thought he could try it elsewhere too? And back in December he had been all smiles in person, and all being unpleasant by email, so it wouldn't be too far-fetched to expect that here too. So I kept the option open he would indeed try another exclusion campaign from a distance. A risky approach! One is not always at liberty to be uncollaborative, by email or otherwise. And it had made me a bit wary; would I have to go into full war mode against a bully? If that's what it takes I'll do it, but I prefer not to have to. But there was not enough data to see a clear pattern; this behaviour could have been a coincidence. And it would make sense to keep the (metaphoric) smiling, sincere or otherwise, consistent in all communications when in regulated environments. They're regulated, after all.
When we did finally meet he was all smiles again. Lots of them! A bit sickeningly sweet, but tolerable. It’ll do. Maybe his funny behaviour in spring had indeed been coincidental. And I was quite able to be civil. I have no problems discussing non-personal things such as the influence of the pandemic on the region with him. We even laughed about something. Nobody would have noticed anything unusual about us there.
With Corona restrictions (albeit loosened) being far from over, I don't think I'll be seeing much more of him any time soon. So this may be the new (meta-)equilibrium. Unless this very post changes things again; I know he'd prefer not to feature on this blog at all, but that happens to be my call. He can't make requests (or bark emailed commands, as may be) on the basis of goodwill as he has none left. If he would want to have this option he would first have to reopen the dialogue that he has closed in December. I'd still be open to peace negotiations. And if he wants influence without goodwill, he would need to enforce. And that would be interesting; you can't file some complaint or lawsuit or suchlike without offering your arguments up to scrutiny. I would be interested to see what he'd come up with! Anyway; if he takes offence at this then maybe the smiles will go, but I don't need the smiles. He would still have to be collaborative. That's enough.