Not to sound too melodramatic, but my workplace is being invaded by hostile forces and they threaten my very peaceful existence.
I know I’ve mentioned before that the travel is beginning to take a toll on me with work and how relieved I am that we are looking to hire more people in my department so I can spend more time at home. But I didn’t know that meant that they had already found someone and that she starts…wait, what…yesterday?!
Yep. My boss failed to mention that the new hire, a former manager of one of our travel agencies, was already here. Did I greet this news with elation and gratitude? Was I overcome with feelings of relief and joy? No. I very quickly realized that what I was looking at was the main threat to my otherwise agreeable arrangements.
When I’m on the road it is certainly very difficult to maintain some semblance of a normal routine. I lack the rigidity and uniformity that allows me to thrive on consistency and rely on expectations for the next day. I don’t get to go to practice as often as I’d like, I spend more time eating and drinking out, my sleep pattern is shot, and I am often isolated for long stretches of time in the afternoon and evening. But on the bright side…I am often isolated for long stretches of time in the afternoon and evening. It’s a tough life but for someone who needs to be alone in order to recharge it can be…very Zen. And it gives me plenty of time to reflect on the day and formulate my writing better.
What I wanted in a new addition was someone to assume some of the burden and load of travel, but assume that mantle on their own. I was not anticipating that my boss would decide that she would still need to shadow me in this respect. I had no guidance when I started. There was no mentor, no book, no protocol. I walked into stores very unassuming and timid but have learned to command with my presence, share my knowledge, and establish urgency and necessity in their compliance. So what if I choose to reward myself for driving the distances and spending the long hours and repeating the same lessons over and over with you know…say…a work day that ends at 4 and an afternoon movie. It was one of the pleasures of setting your own schedule and traveling of your own accord with very little overhead.
But next week I find myself mentor, guide, and chauffeur for our new hire. I am to pick her up from our headquarters and transport us from here to Connecticut to Boston Airport, fly us to Buffalo, then continue to drive us from Buffalo to Amherst and then Syracuse and then back. Along the way I am now responsible for showing her the ropes, shuffling her from store to store to hotel to airport to store to store to hotel to store to store to hotel to store to home, and bringing her…oh lordy…to dinner. We’re going to Buffalo. BUFFALO, NY. Do you know what’s in Buffalo? Yeah, that’s right. BUFFALO WINGS. As in, Anchor Bar, the origin of the buffalo wing. I wanted to go there. I recommended it. I requested it. ‘You know there are better and classier places in Niagara Falls to go to. I’m a foodie.’
God I hate that word. I don’t use it, by the way. I would never refer to myself as one.
‘Okay…uh…what do you recommend.’
‘Oh I usually eat at the Hard Rock Cafe or the Planet Hollywood.’
I wanted less travel. Not group travel! Oh god. What do I do. I’ll be very British about it. I’ll grin and bear it. Chin up old chap and all that. All because of the promise that after this, she’ll be ready to go on her own, I’ll be on my own, and everything will return to normal only with less travel. But if she starts staying in stores longer than I do…she’s gonna make me look bad.
Now that we’ve tackled the foreign invasion, let’s talk about the homefront.
Do you know what I do when I’m at headquarters?
I’ll admit it. Nothing. Hahah. I call consultants when they need help. I answer emails to put out fires. My boss has me do some reports, check in with some stores, do a few Skype sessions. Otherwise I’m at the company bar or playing arcade games or walking around or writing. My most productive writing has always been during work! Since I work on a laptop I get to be highly mobile and move around the building. My boss is used to this and knows this so she never really quite knows just what all my busy work amounts to. Hey, being on the road is tough. The rare times I am grounded are a luxury.
As we are not traveling as of yet, I find my solitude threatened by her constant presence. She ‘shadows’ me as I furtively try to write in secret. She observes how I spend most of my time in our leisure deck. She laughs and smiles and says she finds it amusing and refreshing but I do not know this woman. I do not know what she is thinking. I do not know if she is threatening this arrangement. It doesn’t help that she doesn’t have a laptop or phone yet. That would at least tie her to her desk. But what would it say if I’m not right there as well. Should I be concerned that she is able to relate more easily and readily with my boss. Whereas I could only casually ask about how her son is doing and how school is, they are sharing mother stories of girlfriends and high school shenanigans and the difference between the eldest and the youngest. We are creatures admittedly of consistency and habit and change does not come easy and this is certainly the biggest change in my work so far.
I know how I sound right now. I’m not proud of it. I don’t like having a new coworker. I don’t like not having the distinction of being ‘the only person in my department’ as I would often half-complain half-brag to friends and family. I don’t want a travel companion from work (don’t get me wrong I’d loooove a travel companion in my personal life). I don’t want people to find out how good I’ve got it back at headquarters. She threatens all these things. But if I’m not too harsh, she does represent a lightening of the travel load. She represents the possibility of the same amount of work being done by two people and thus less for both. But god I hope my boss doesn’t see how much free time we have.
It’s okay. I got this. I can handle this. I’ll train her, she’ll go on her way, I’ll go back on mine. I can do this.
Man: 48 Lonelines: 17
WAIT WHAT?! SHE’S HIRING A THIRD PERSON IN TWO WEEKS?!