Monday, June 16, 2014

In which I learn a few things

I had an interesting day at work on Friday, if by "interesting" you mean "kind of shitty." Maybe because it was a full moon AND Friday the 13, not that I put any stock in that superstitious nonsense, except it's all totally true.

Ah, it started out so iffy: Johanna was on the couch, clouds and rain looming, a general feeling of bereavement because another year has gone by and now I have a sophomore and a fourth grader, which is insane and I don't even want to think about, to be honest.

But then it rebounded: Johanna got up off that couch through sheer will and went to school, I practiced yoga and was feeling quite relaxed, I spent a good deal of time reading my new book, and I even got myself a vanilla latte before heading to work.

So six minutes into my four-hour shift, this smallish old dude with a French accent comes into the office, radiating displeasure. Well, that happens quite often, so no biggie. But then he asks for me personally, and, though I didn't think it was a very good idea to actually identify myself, I did.

And he went bat-shit crazy. So much for being a hit with the geriatric crowd.

I had spelled a word wrong in my last feature about windsurfing--I said "baton" instead of "batten"--and he ripped me a new one because that's so high school drop out amateurish. I pointed out that spell check did not flag "baton" as wrong, and that kind of shut him up, but then he was off again, about how he felt like he should have his 75-cents back because this kind of mistake made him SO MAD and if he was the guy I'd written about, he'd be SO UPSET.

Paraphrasing. He used slightly more colorful words.

So, as he's taking a breath, I tell him that actually, the guy I'd written about had been quite complementary about the article and had said he'd gotten a lot of good feedback from it, and old dude's eyes kind of bugged out like he couldn't believe that could possibly be true because I am SO DUMB.

More angry words then, and I was getting kind of tired, so I asked at that point if he wanted to talk to someone higher up, you know, like our publisher or general manager, and of course he didn't. He didn't want to leave his name, either. He left in a huff, shaking his head.

I let out the breath I was holding as I watched him walk to his truck, and burst into tears. Steve had made his way to the front counter when the guy started getting loud, and he was so damn nice, telling me the guy was a jerk and where did he get off because everyone makes mistakes and how everyone still loves me. Then he flagged our general  manager Chelsea over, and she was horrified because she'd been in the back and hadn't been able to help me, and told me I'm too sweet to let that guy ruin my day. And said that my article was beautiful so whatever, old dude.

I had to actually go in the back to compose myself, which was so embarrassing because A) I'm not even a crier and 2) I didn't want to admit this man had hurt me so badly. I got myself together and then darling Esther talks to me about how one time some nurse called and went off on her about some quote she'd put in an article about a cancer patient, and how she knew just how I felt because that lady had made her feel so worthless. And I was like, yes! That's how I feel! I couldn't figure out the name for that, and then I was crying again.

I did finally manage to get my shit together, but I think that's because the shock of being spoken to like that was finally wearing off, plus everyone in the office totally rallied around me. It didn't even matter to them that I was actually wrong (I mean, I did misspell the word, at least syntactically)--they picked me up and dusted me off and polished my ego. I so appreciated that kindness. Just... I don't know, the comraderie of it all. We've all made mistakes, and it's not like we feel great when that happens anyway, but usually the response is in line with the error--i.e., nobody comes unglued just because you misspelled one stinkin' word.

Anyway, I'm not even sure what the moral is of this whole sad tale, except that I so, so love my office. They took it harder than I did, and the support I felt was absolutely as radiant as the hate I'd just experienced. I didn't expect that.

They're the best.

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