Beginning the Tuesday Slice of Life the day after the March challenge ends reminds me of the country song “How Can I Miss You if You Won’t Go Away?” But honestly, this makes weaning off the daily challenge just a little bit easier.
On my way to the office this early morning, traveling through the bowels of our office building, I ran into a recent retiree. When I say retiree, what I really mean is an older lady who screwed up, was let go, but allowed a graceful exit. Unfortunately, “M” has not taken the separation well, as is evidenced not only by her frequent visits back to the office, but by the vitreous things she has to say about the company that employed her for many years.
My most frequent encounters with “M” have been at our company swap meets. In case you’re not familiar with the concept, staff members bring their crap in to the office in the morning, display it on tables in the back of our cafeteria, and other staffers come by and, if all goes according to plan, take other people’s crap home with them. It’s part of a sustainability initiative with the idea being we all have stuff we don’t use. Why not make good use of it. (AKA One man’s crap is another man’s treasure.)
As part of an employee sustainability committee, I am frequently called upon to work at these swap meets – usually for just an hour in the morning. And they are an amazing slice of life to witness. The employees who work in the cafeteria are usually the first shoppers to arrive. Some of these ladies have been known to get pretty feisty if there’s nothing good laid out first thing in the morning. I have heard a lot of rumbling and ranting from these gals, and I feel it’s my responsibility to remind them that more crap is coming. There’s always more crap.
By far, the most frequent shopper at the swap meets was “M.” She was the first to arrive in the morning and after filling her arms with crap she’d return to her office only to come back 15 minutes later to see if there was any new crap. And lest the people volunteering at the swap meet might think ill of her, “M” felt it necessary to describe the intended use of each item. She would also make her own contributions, which were nearly always give-aways from insurance vendors who had come to our building to promote their services. So at each swap meet, “M” would leave 5 Blue Cross Blue Shield lens cleaners, or 5-10 Aetna i.d. badge lanyards, or some custom imprinted dental floss.
I started counting how many times “M” came to the swap meet during my one hour shift – usually 4 or 5 times. Each time leaving with more and more crap. The vacant look in her eyes as she shopped was fascinating. It was as though she was in some sort of catatonic state. Other swap meet volunteers began to notice the frequency and intensity of her visits, and we came to the conclusion that we were witnessing a real life hoarder. This was further emphasized by her physical resemblance to a house mouse.
I had hoped that in her retirement, “M” would find some peace from her dissatisfaction with her employer, and perhaps some time to clear out what must be a packed-to-the-rafters house. But this morning’s tirade was evidence that she has still not found it. I myself was feeling pretty disgruntled as I came to work this morning. Some organizational changes have left me with a job at which I cannot succeed, in an unwelcoming and awkward off-campus environment. I think running into “M” this morning was a good lesson of how NOT to react to my own dissatisfaction. Everybody’s got crap.