I work with a woman that I’m pretty sure has no life outside of her employment. She is about 50 years old, unmarried with no children and no significant other. She comes from a small town in Louisiana and is one of the younger offspring in a line of 13 siblings. This is a woman that can go from a good day to a bad day in 8 work hours.
She’s been working in this position as executive secretary/bookkeeper for over 10 years. Her whole world revolves around what she does here. She lives and breathes this job. I figure she has nothing else in her life. How do I know? Oftentimes she comes to me in the mornings with a “solution” to an issue we had dealt with the previous workday. During our work day, she sits at her computer and thinks about my job and how I can do things differently/better and will share her pearls of wisdom with me. Her favorite phrase is “I was just curious …” when she wants to know about my work process. She supervises and monitors the administrative staff, even though she is not required to as per her job description. She arrives at the office early and stays late.
Our offices are situated right next to each other. We share a thermostat, which is located in her office, much to my chagrin. She wants it cold because she is menopausal; I want it warm because I am not. I’ve even gone so far as to move my desk away from the air vent, so that the cold air doesn’t blast on me. In her own defense, she has come to me and let me know that she doesn’t mean to upset me with the temperature setting, but obviously she can’t take off more clothes to accommodate her hot flashes, so please could I just put a sweater on. I comply because I don’t want to see her naked body sashaying up and down the halls.
She loves going to her doctors’ appointments. I bet she has at least 3-5 appointments every month but usually it’s more. I’m not kidding! She has year-round allergies, which cause sneezing and coughing. Her stress levels cause her to sigh loudly and cuss to herself all day long (I don’t think she realizes I can hear her). She recently tore the muscle in her bicep, which gave her the perfect reason to have to go to physical therapy weekly. She goes to the bathroom a lot (sorry, I didn’t mean to notice), perhaps due to some sort of bladder issue? I attribute her focus on her own health as a result of not having anyone else to look out for her.
She has tried the dating scene. She joined a singles club and the gym once in hopes of meeting someone but to no avail. She attends church. Nothing. Her alternative is to stick to the things she knows: she goes on trips with her siblings or drives 6 hours to visit her momma in Louisiana when she’s on “vacation.”
She is what I call a “finicky eater.” She won’t eat anything directly off the menu. She always makes a special request. She wants her food prepared the way she wants it or she’s not going to eat it. I guess I’m not that hard to please. I will almost always enjoy the dish that is served to me, as is. And if my dish happens to come with something I don’t want on it, I just pick it off.
My point is that this woman’s life could be so much easier and enjoyable if she were more flexible. She may even have a better chance at meeting someone to share her time with. It boggles my mind when I think a person can get so stuck in their ways that it’s impossible to deviate from how they do things, often to the disadvantage of themselves and/or to others. I suppose this is something that takes years to develop and I’m sure it takes a committed effort to be more open and to embrace the ways of others. Mind you, all the things I’ve described above are not bad in and of themselves. It’s the whole package that frustrates me and my vision for how things could be for her if she could adapt more easily. Alas, it is not my business, but I thought it might be interesting to write about it here.
After work today, I am attending a fun party with my mama friends and their kids. There will be lots of yummy things to eat and drink and good company. The kids will have a blast, I’m sure. This is what life can be and I hope that my colleague will find some happiness in her future life as well.