I paused in my swimming to ask the newcomer to the pool how she was doing. We have swum at the same time many times before and have a loose, friendly, fellow-swimmer relationship. But that night, her face crumpled and she replied, “Not well. Not well at all.”
She’s articulate and has an unnervingly accurate memory, these things I know about her.
I asked her why, and the story spilled out. She’s been at the same job for seventeen years. She loves what she does, is good at what she does. Last year, she took some time off to take care of her mom who was ill, and ultimately ended up passing away. I remember that, she was heartbroken then, too. Last September, after she returned to work, she transferred to another department in her company or they transferred “him” to hers, I’m not real clear on that part, but whatever transfer happened, “he” is not a good boss. He makes it his goal to undermine and devalue the people under him, and picks on someone in particular until that person either quits or transfers out. If that person tries to talk to him to set things right, he yells at them until they leave his office in tears and humiliated, everyone looking on and watching. These are the things I gathered from what she told me. Right now, she’s his target and has been since last September.
I felt so bad for her and mostly just listened, until she said she didn’t know what to do, that she’s making herself sick over it, can’t sleep, and she started to cry. The song and dance I know all too well. And that’s when I offered her some small thoughts I had — people like that, you can’t talk to them, you have to have a third-party come in and mediate. Or leave. She doesn’t want to leave.
The worst part of it for her, I think, is that her mom was her best friend. Her mom was who she could have and would have turned to at 3 AM when she couldn’t sleep. Her mom would have known just the right words to soothe her daughter’s heart. For the daughter, it’s the combination of the perfect words and the mother’s voice that makes you feel as if everything’s going to be OK. Everything will be alright enough to at least set things aside for a few hours while you sleep. It was a year ago that she lost her mom.
We both swam our laps for 30 minutes and then paddled back and forth talking for another 13 minutes. Since it was her conversation, I let her choose when she was done talking… she eventually did and thanked me for listening.
Sometimes that’s all people need… is someone to listen. It was the easiest thing in the world for me to do and all it took was just a little bit of my time. No matter where else I may fall short, I felt like that was something I could do.
I went home feeling at peace for having helped her a little bit. I also felt immensely grateful… I really do have a good boss and job. And I have a wonderful, living mom who arrived safely in the states yesterday and I will get to see on Friday.
For now, this moment in time, I’m good. Things could change tomorrow, but I’m optimistic enough that I’ll take this moment and be happy.
6 responses to “Her Troubles.”
you are such an awesome friend and a great listener. it was nice that you were able to take a few minutes out of your busy day to listen to her. it probably helped her out more than you even realize. 🙂
i’m so glad your mom is in town safely. 🙂
have a great trip to SF and see you when you get back! 🙂
Re: great friend and listener — it takes one to know one. 🙂 She seemed calmer when she left, but if she’s anything like me, that calm prolly lasted about 10 minutes. heh.
Well, technically my mom is in the states (Sacramento), she’ll be in town (the OC) on Sunday. Like I said, “technically”… 😀
“Filed under: Mermaid Envy” made me smile. Thanks.
🙂 I was gonna call that category “I wish I were a Mermaid” …
“Mermaid Envy” is just as good, tho. 🙂
It is always good to help someone even though all you did was listen…..I can’t wait for this weekend, we are going to have a relaxing good time. silly sweetie, XXOXXOXO
Relaxing??? We are??? 😛
That definately sounds like an issue to take up the chain, either to the boss’ boss or HR. Not a good position to be in.
We should have more people around like you, just willing to listen and be empathetic. It goes a long way.
Being good for today is all we can ask for. Leave tomorrow’s worries for tomorrow.
I agree with you on that… she said she brought it to the attention of the H.R. person above him, the problem is (she thinks), they’ll believe him over her because she’s been labeled a “problem” thanks to him.
I’ve heard it said that often times people who are hurting don’t necessarily need someone to talk to them, they just need someone they can talk to. It makes sense.
Good for today. God gives us grace to get through the day, not tomorrow, just today. We get our tomorrow allotment of grace tomorrow.
Perspective. I know it is important to see the good things about what one is dealing with and to value what is workable, etc.
I feel for that young woman too….It is terribly painful to lose your Mom and especially if she was your BEST Friend. It is awful that she is experiencing such hard times at her job…..You were very dear to listen and be there for her, Jammie. And you are right. Sometimes that is the most important thing you can give someone—To Listen. You have such a tender heart, my dear.
Perspective is hard to find sometimes, and it usually isn’t found at 3 AM on a sleep-starved, fearful, hurt brain… this I know for sure!
I hope I gave her some ideas to work with, just kind of brainstorming, you know?
Tender heart… (sigh) sometimes too tender.
i’m glad you were there for this lady …
and then your own heart was blessed cause of what her situation revealed to you…
i still haven’t gone swimming … the water here may be in the high 60’s now? maybe?
You’re quite right… blessed to be a blessing, I guess. 🙂
If you go swimming, you’ll have to tell me how much shorter in stature you are afterward. Shrinkage, you know? tee hee