Ponder this:

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Sweet Relief of Saturday

The quote for today in that little gadget up there is: "Change before you have to." I'm putting it into the body of this post because, automatically generated, tomorrow's will be different.  Since that Jack Welch quote piqued my interest, I checked out some others of his, and read a short bio. Brilliant man, captain of capitalism and industry, tough businessman, big deal in General Electric. His function was to increase industrial productivity, and that's reflected in many of his quotes. His brilliance acknowledges the human element as well.

Change before you have to.
Well, I'd like to, but I don't think I'm capable of that kind of self-discipline. I fight change with every fiber of my physical and mental being, until I am crushed against the wall of impossibility of escape or avoidance. I fold, and at last crumpled boneless, find that the wall is not solid stone, but ocean water through which I can pass buoyed by its mass. Maybe what's called for is not, in fact, self-discipline, but an easier go-with-the-flow attitude. Sometimes I have that and sometimes I don't.  I know from whence my resistance comes and it doesn't matter. It just is.  I dislike hearing people say, "That's just the way I am," but in this, it is the way I am. I expect never to be otherwise without determined application of tools, coping skills, that are not thoroughly ingrained.

I clawed my way through this last week, climbing the sheer rock face of a mountain on which I could neither stop nor descend, but only progress upward or sideways at whatever pace I could manage.

I go to drop off my jacket in the Afternoon Office and find it in complete upheaval. The department will be moved to a different room by 12/15; the Power That Be has begun moving out my files to the new location, and has moved everything that is left to different and oddly angled positions. The coat rack is gone. I leave my jacket on the back of my Afternoon Desk Chair and return to the Morning Office.
End of the month stuff. Every total must match. Fearsome.
My every total does not match; I need help to find my mistake of a transposition of numbers.
In addition, two payrolls to do, one regular, one hitherto unexperienced end-of-fiscal-year payroll process. I overlook two employees' special payments and thereby turn the two payrolls into three. Rattled by that failure, and aware of the clock edging toward the end of my time to complete my tasks, I hurry through the regular payroll and create a one cent deficit. Hours of time invested in checking figures, checking figures, and failing to find the penny. All the while my heart pounding and my thoughts scattering, reading numbers (in size 2 font) that aren't there.
Morning Boss asks if I am upset over the Afternoon Office upheaval or if it's something else.
Jack Welch: "Be candid with everyone."
"I'm less upset than I am terrified," I tell her.

Still checking those payroll numbers in the morning, complete ongoing upheaval in the Afternoon Office. So much has been moved that the room echoes.  Unable to get enough of a grip on myself to adequately perform the Morning Job, and deprived of the tools I need to do the Afternoon Job, I slip into a vortex of frustration and fear, exchange words with the Afternoon Boss. Morning Boss calls, reminds me I've forgotten to do a monthly billing. Toes dragging, tears welling, I return to the Morning Office and mindlessly follow written instructions to do the neglected billing. Peripheral coworker asks if I want her to stuff the envelopes for me. "No. I need to do something I know how to do. I know how to fold paper and stuff envelopes."

Morning Boss finds the penny, on which I had not yet quite given up.
"Show me!" I cry. "What did I do to make that happen?" She enlightens me, gently.
Jack Welch: "I've learned that mistakes can often be as good a teacher as success."
Maybe I'll remember it next time, but with these full moon nerves, I can't be sure.
That's the worst thing about fear: it disables me.

Morning Boss talks while we work, catches herself. "Am I talking too much?"
"No. I feel better when you talk than when you don't."
"When I don't talk it isn't about you, you know."
"My brain knows that; it's my nervous system that doesn't get it."

I am worn thin, a stick figure going from one task to the next sans enjoyment or triumph or, thank God, fear.  I tell Morning Boss, "It's very embarrassing never doing anything right."
She replies with fine irony, "I don't know how you could make these mistakes in this working atmosphere! What the hell's wrong with you?"
A comfort, that response: acceptance, compassion, forgiveness.
Jack Welch:  "Giving people self-confidence is by far the most important thing that I can do. Because then they will act."
I leave work early, come home and sleep. And sleep. And sleep.  Thursday evening, Afternoon Boss phones from the hospital to which he has been admitted through the ER with chest pain and attendant cardiac symptoms.

Power That Be asks me if I know about Afternoon Boss being in the hospital.
"Yes," I say.
"Did we do it to him?" he asks me, "Or did he do it to himself?  Does he feel he has to help move the office?  I told him he didn't need to, that I would get other people."
Morning Boss, nearby, speaks up: "Of course he felt he had to. We all feel that way because we're afraid we'll lose our jobs!"
I speak with Trusted Friend after my workday is over. Trusted Friend makes of himself a blank canvas against which I throw events and my reactions.  He takes it all in, summarizes it for me. The painful emotion recedes, a watercolor wash that enhances the clarity of the bold print headlines of actual events:  I see how things really are. 

Jack Welch:  "Face reality as it is, not as it was or as you wish it to be."
Speaking from this Great Relief of Saturday, The End of the Week From Hell, I would amend that to, "Face reality as it is, not as it was or as you wish it to be, or as it appears to you through a veil of emotion."

I am left with feelings of great gratitude for people who, with contributions of compassion, kindness and humor, helped me climb through the week. It's times like this that I realize the truth of "Whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger."

Returning to add: I don't know why the last part of this post is in minuscule font...I have fiddled and fiddled with it and can't fix it. Like the penny, it is a riddle that is beyond my capabilities.


Lord Wellbourne said...

Dear, Sweet June, what a horrid week you've had!! Come now, have a warm coze by the soapstone wood stove and let me fix you a cup of Eight O'clock. It's about to snow and we can sit and reminisce about snow forts past.

Mary said...

If I had a week like that, I would be staring at the wall today. I, too, resist change until I have no choice.

Tigerbi said...

Oh, I hope, as I write, that you and LW are having fun comparing snow forts !

I love your use of Mr Welch's quotes to further express your feelings ( Not that you need any help, dear June !)

Wanda..... said...

Oh the Stress! Well, you have the weekend to destress June!

The small font mystery thing happened to me last week in the middle of leaving someone a comment, but then it just as mysteriously corrected itself. Blogger!

Bonnie Zieman, M.Ed. said...

No wonder Saturday is such a relief - what a difficult week!! Hope you are able to rest and restore yourself . . . All you can do is your best, then whatever is, is. You certainly found some pithy quotes from Jack Welch that matched your week's experiences.

Joe Todd said...

I would say you had a lot of "switchbacks" that week. Sometimes it is tough to "accept the things I can not change." |Here is to a better week ahead

Barb said...

Hi June, You will be able to "change before you have to" when you are retired and not dealing with everyone else's expectations plus your own (high) standards. Your Morning Boss is astute - keep her. By the way - I thought your small font was intentional to convey your pain and stress! (Too bad Blogger didn't realize you had one of those weeks and didn't need further problems!)


Susan said...

What a stressful week. I hope you can retire and move to Tennessee (or Virginia). It would be wonderful for your spirit. Remember that you have folks that are sending good thoughts and prayers for more stress-less weeks ahead.