I was going to write about something funny today but I’m not feeling terribly humorous at the moment. I finally took care of something that I’ve been avoiding for a while now, and now the finality of it all is really beginning to sink in. I went to my former workplace and I retrieved my old nameplate. I’ve had it for at least twenty years and whenever I start somewhere new, I bring it with me. It’s like an old familiar friend. And where it has stood for the last (nearly) 5 years, is no more. It no longer has a purpose so it is back in my possession (at home), at least for now. I thought it would feel good to finally bring it home, to sever the last tie to my former place of employment, but that’s not how I’m feeling right now. I am feeling rudderless, directionless, lost and definitely not good. I am back in that ‘place’. The place where I struggle. The place where I become plagued with questions, the primary one being, “Where do I go from here?”
All of the uncertainty, it is overwhelming. But I made this decision, so now I have to live with it. My boss is open to having me back. He told me when I talked to him today that he hoped I would return ‘some day’. ‘Some day’ hinges on one major event, the business reopening. And no one has the slightest inkling when that will be. When I first got laid off, I thought it’d only be for around 3 months (at most). It has now been 9 months and there’s still no end in sight. I had every intention of returning, but right around month ‘6’, I started to question that decision. “Do I really want to go back to being a receptionist? Did the position truly ‘challenge’ me? Am I capable of ‘more’? Did the good outweigh the bad?” My answers? No, no, yes, not sure (but probably a solid ‘no’ if you give me a chance to seriously think it over). NO, I don’t want to go back to being a receptionist. You deal with the good, the bad and ‘the ugly’ when you work the front desk. It is a literal ‘catch all’.
If someone’s unhappy, guess who they’re going to unload on? If a toilet in the women’s restroom is clogged, guess who has to run and put an ‘out of order’ sign on the stall and then contact the director? If a homeless person is sleeping in the dumpster, you are the one that gets to notify the police. Did the position really ‘challenge’ me? NO, it didn’t. Not to pick on monkeys, but any trained monkey could have done the job. The bulk of the job entailed greeting people, making lunch reservations, signing people up for trips and a handful of other duties. There was a lot of ‘idle’ time and I don’t do ‘idle’ very well. I need to be working and earning my paycheck. As a result, I asked for more things to do, a wish my boss gladly granted. Before too long, I was maintaining the website, editing the newsletter, putting together trivia contests, recreating or updating most of the documents, refurbishing cell phones for resale, making all new signage for the building, and so on and so forth.
I’m not complaining! I was always relieved to have something to work on, even if it was just reformatting the Board of Directors’ Packet (which was always a hot mess) along with correcting all of the spelling errors. Am I capable of ‘more’? YES, without a doubt. But the real question is, do I want to do ‘more’? If I am being 100% honest, I don’t think I do. Since my transplant surgery, I’ve been reevaluating my life and what I want from it. ‘More work and a more demanding job’ don’t really factor in. I’m getting older not younger. I don’t have the stamina that I used to. I have a pretty good grip on technology, but at the rate it’s advancing, it won’t be long before even I find it utterly confounding. And as far as the ability to do ‘more’ as far as what I was already doing as the receptionist (along with all of the other stuff I agreed to do), I think I had exhausted all of the available options. Did the good outweigh the bad? That’s the question I ask myself when none of the other questions help me determine an answer. The answer? Initially, yes. The good far outweighed the bad.
I felt useful. I felt appreciated. I felt content. But! Yep, there’s always a ‘but’. Something changed after my surgery. A lot of the things that I used to let ‘slide’ started to get on my last nerve. Not only that, but one of the women that worked there (that has always been one of my least favorite people because she’s fake and two-faced), started to really ‘work me’ over. She seemed to have the uncanny ability to know ‘every button’ I had and ‘push’ every single one of them. And I had actually reached the point where I was starting to document some of the B.S. she used to say to me. She was always making off-handed remarks and accusations that made me go, “HUH? What the Hell?!!” And maybe if I only had to deal with her, maybe it wouldn’t have been so bad, but then my boss hired a new part-time receptionist that worked at a snail’s pace. I kid you not! Nicest lady in the world, but my God, imagine someone trying to swim through peanut butter. Yes, she was THAT slow!
My shift always started at 11:30am sharp. Because it started at 11:30, I usually arrived around 11:20 or 11:25. She would see me walk in and greet me and then she’d tell me that she just had to wrap things up and we could switch out. Twenty to twenty-five minutes later, she’d finally get her keister out of the chair. You read that right! It took her twenty to twenty-five minutes, no matter what! And while she puttered away, trying to ‘wrap things up’, I would slowly start to unravel. After 5 minutes, I’d start to get anxious. After 10-15, I’d start to get frustrated. After 20-25, I was pissed! My face would turn bright red and my heart would race and once she was finally done, after turning off the space heater under the desk and shutting off the computer speakers, collecting her purse and her water bottle and her phone and her lunch, and oh-so-carefully step down from the reception area, ACK!! I could hardly stand to look at her. I wanted to throttle her! It almost felt deliberate, like she got her jollies watching me get all worked up.
Whether intentional or not, I just cannot work with someone that moves at such a ridiculously slow pace (she also talks A LOT). And between her and the other lady that continually pushed all of my buttons, and all of the other nonsense I had to deal with at the front desk (the grumpy Bridge lady, the perverted old men trying to hit on me all the time, people leaving sh*t all over the bathroom, the folks that were angry because their birthdays weren’t included in the newsletter, the ‘Moochers’), the ‘bad’ definitely started to outweigh the ‘good’. When that happens? That’s my signal for ‘it is time to go’. And I apply that logic to a lot of things, work, relationships, cars, you name it! And since I’ve had a chance to think it over and I am no longer riding the fence, there is no doubt. NO, the ‘good’ does not outweigh the ‘bad’. Not anymore. Sh*t! Now what do I do? It is now all so final. And so strange. To ‘officially leave’ without a formal send off, without a cake, without a card. All the people in the past (that left voluntarily) got a party. I stopped by and retrieved my nameplate. That was my ‘official’ goodbye.
At least the two women that I’m not fans of were both out of the office today. There is some gratification in knowing I didn’t have to deal with either of them the last time I stepped foot in the place. I won’t lose any sleep if I never see them again. They both gave me heartburn and I already have my fair share from eating pizza, fish and chips, hamburgers, chili and Chinese food on a regular basis. But now I sit here once again, facing the ‘great unknown’. What is to become of my life? Will I work again? Would anyone else take a chance on me if I applied? Am I even capable of working an 8-hour day at this point? When I think about the last time I was in this predicament, I remember going into a really dark place for a very long time. So much rejection! And I imagine this time around is going to be much worse. There are a lot more of ‘us’ out there. ‘Us’ meaning ‘people without jobs’. It’s going to be even more competitive to find suitable work for decent pay. I don’t know about you, but this is all making me feel so warm and fuzzy inside (NOT).
I’m not a fresh-faced young lady any longer, straight out of college, diploma in hand, with boundless energy. But this ol’ gray mare still has some life left in her. How much life? One only knows! Fate intervened the last time I went job hunting. The last job I got was because I went in the wrong door. Hopefully, fate will intervene again. At least, I have a supportive husband at my side. He told me if I don’t want to work again, that I don’t have to. But I’m a realist, and his pension doesn’t cover all of the bills so if I cannot get a book deal or find another way to earn money from my writing, I’m going to have to get a job. Like it or not. Sigh. I guess I’ll leave you with that today. It’s all I’ve got. Oh, hang on! I’ve got a little anxiety, as well. Would you like some of that, too? No? I don’t blame you. Anyway, I probably should go. I need to get my ol’ tired hide upstairs and into bed. And whatever you choose to do during the rest of your waking hours, I’ll leave you to it. Enjoy your day and I’ll be back tomorrow. Hasta luego, my friends!