I looked down at my hands as they rested on the keys of my work PC, squinted my eyes into a vicious glare and seethed.
“I applied for your job,” Fred offered last week. I glanced up from the monitor and blinked at him as I paused from our data collection. He’s 15 or so years older than I am, bright and very friendly. Considering his greater experience, I wasn’t sure how to respond to such a statement.
I settled on, “Oh?”
“I didn’t get it, obviously,” he noted and I nodded. He’s a level below my position on the organizational chart, though we are on different branches. Given that I often feel inadequate, I cocked my head and asked if he knew why he hadn't been offered my spot. “I’m too laid back,” he replied.
“I am intense,” I noted thoughtfully.
“I’m sorry to ruin your meeting,” Elegant noted when she stopped by my office, perfectly curled hair swinging about her shoulders.
“You didn’t,” I assured her, swiveling to face her when she arranged herself in one of my chairs.
“But this whole situation is ridiculous,” she sighed, tapping the toe of one fabulous boot. I frowned with envy and tucked my feet, clad in sensible flats, under my chair. “This project has to be done and it wouldn’t take long and he,” she aimed a glare toward Adam’s office, “won’t make them work on it!”
“I know,” I nodded sympathetically.
“You stayed calm,” she said almost accusingly, for I’m usually in complete agreement with her complaints, chiming in while we both gesture wildly and rail against the establishment.
“If my project doesn’t get in,” I said with a smile, “there will be tantrums unlike you’ve ever seen.” She nodded approvingly and we moved to fetch tea to soothe our nerves.
“My head hurts,” I noted as we walked, having been shaking tablets out of the bottle in my desk drawer every four hours to cope. She agreed and we discussed the merits of Excedrin versus Tylenol.
“We care too much,” she decided as we pondered mint versus…well, non-mint. (I always drink mint - I'm not even sure what's in the bins that aren't green.) When I looked at her with my inquisitive expression, she elaborated. “People who don’t mind disappointing people, who don’t really follow up, who are relaxed about the job when they go home – they don’t get headaches. They don’t work 16 hour days. But we suffer.”
“Passionate,” Fred agreed with my assessment.
“I suppose we all are,” I declared after a moment’s thought. Adam enjoys dramatic gestures and is entertained by my frequent rants. He encourages disagreements and fighting over resources. While we get along very well as a group, we also care. It’s not infrequent to say goodnight to a colleague as it nears 9PM. I’m not surprised to get immediate replies to emails I send at 5:30AM. We finished a call to Asia – all of us gathered around Adam’s desk – at 7:30 the other evening, each of us sagging in our chairs as we took notes and assigned tasks to support that team.
So while I would like to physically hurt anyone who writes emails to me with ‘demands’ in all capital letters, I took deep breaths and forced myself not to respond to the bothersome email. I complained bitterly to a friend, cleaned a bit and returned to my laptop. When someone complains about my performance when I’ve put considerable time and effort into being helpful – forsaking other tasks to do so – I’m not mildly annoyed. I’m viciously furious.
In the end though, I love my job. I value my colleagues and am already doggedly loyal to Industry. So I wrote a civil email indicated that email-sender was ‘unbearably condescending and should carefully consider the tone of future correspondence.’ Then I went to work and focused on refining and revising the information he sought.
I considered the intensity of my moods as I slowly moved across the parking lot toward my car, the clicking of my heels on the pavement the only sound I heard. For now, I can’t quite tell how effective I am. But I do know it matters.