Busy Season

I’ve been quiet on the Singlestream for a few weeks well.  I’m not dead, and not any less committed to clogging my followers’ inboxes with my stuff.  It’s just Busy Season.

As this blog stretches past the first year and hopefully into many more you will be able to set your calendar by my silence or my dependence on uplifting or nonsensical music videos.  But today I woke up to rainfall outside my window and a little more personal head-space for reflection on the things going on around me – on Busy Season itself:

  1. People are hilarious.  Or maybe it’s just MY people.  But when they are busy they don’t waste energy on hiding their quirks.  And so they pick their noses at their desks without realizing it and don’t butter up the things that slip out of their mouths.  Like “NO.  I don’t have time to scratch my ass… (pause) I mean…(gulp) I’m sorry boss… (terrified smile) I mean, can this wait?”
  2. Busy season is rudely interrupted by rainy season.  You know the April Showers, May Rains and June Floods?  That stuff perfectly describes my workload.  I’d like to have a talk with the Creator right about now.  Can we re-write this script please?  Can you send the rain in about July, when it’s really hot and we really need it?  Because I can’t afford time in traffic when I’ve got 390 renewal contracts to spit out.
  3. Blue tooth ROCKS!  Cops can’t tell when I’m on a conference call until I pull out a pen at 50 miles per hour to take a “quick note” of something I’m gonna have to remember for later.
  4. FACT: It is NOT a good idea to redecorate the house in Busy Season.  What the hell was I thinking?!
  5. Busy Season can make you realize your true feelings.  Either you hate or love your job.  I’m one of the lucky ones – even when I have 28 hours of work to do and everything is due in 24, I know that this “Day from hell” is from a far more acceptable hell than the best day on the job I used to do before.
  6. Water is important.  And so is fibre.  Something often forgotten in Busy Season.  Nuff said.
  7. Busy Season is not something you are ever prepared for.  Every time you spend the months before preparing for the volume, something BIG breaks.  Like the phone system.  Or the printer in the middle of a big contract run.
  8. There are certain things you need to do in the morning to make sure that your co-workers don’t grow to hate you.  Like brushing your teeth.  Or putting on deodorant.  They are not too busy to notice THAT stuff.  Brushing your hair is advisable but not strictly necessary.  These things are best managed with the use of a checklist.  This list should go somewhere where you are sure not to miss it.  Like on the coffee pot.  Bringing backup supplies like deodorant, mirror and toothpaste to work can also help in the inevitable case that you will forget.
  9. An important (but not strictly necessary) thing to remember is that other people have feelings and not just job functions that your job, in turn, depends on.  If you choose to forget or simply do not have the time “to scratch your ass”, please put an appointment in your calendar for the day following the end of busy season to buy cupcakes or donuts for the whole office and sign “I’m sorry I’ve been a bitch” cards for each member of your team.  Please be sure to not go through this apology campaign until AFTER Busy Season is over.  You simply cannot spend the time on it.
  10. Alcohol makes you cranky.  Or should I say MORE cranky.  If, of course, that is possible.  More importantly, it makes you slow.  You being slow, in turn, makes everyone else cranky.  And might drive them to drink.  And then they will come into work cranky and slow.  You see how you are responsible for this?  Therefore, avoid alcohol until after Busy Season.

This post is dedicated to my team.  The deodorant is now in my top drawer, I have put a family-size bottle of Metamucil in the kitchen, and to my PA Mel, please take the petty cash and buy the cards in advance.  Cupcakes July 2.  Mel, please put that as an appointment in my calendar so I don’t forget!

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3. The Power in the Ladies Room

Place of Power, Room of Rest - The Ladies Room

Standing up suddenly from my desk I caught the chair just in time before it clattered to the floor.  Fury and humiliation exploded together to drive me out the door.  I knew from the burning that my face was beet-red and my eyes smarted.  Law is a profession that eats its young and I was assigned to an especially hungry bigot.  Every day I started with a reminder to myself to just survive the insults, keep my mouth shut and not take it on board.  But today my tolerance cup was full and overflowing and there was no more space left.  I was tired of being called Island Royalty (because after all, Bushlings, you can read and write) and sick of the slurs cast at my womanhood, my race, my person.

I made it to the Ladies Room with no time to spare.  The salt water had already begun to leak down my cheeks.  As I crashed in through the swinging door past the universal sign of a stick woman in a skirt I was too blind to find the cubicle handle.  Two gentle hands seized my shoulders from behind and pushed me in the door.  “Lock it” were her only words, harsh yet gentle at the same time.  For several minutes I stood, back against the wall, face in hand, shoulders shaking in silent sobs.

When the worst had passed I looked down at my hand to find a tissue there, hastily pressed into my palm as I had been pressed into the cubicle.  Sensing the end of my waterworks she said to me “Here is some more” and I found a fistful of tissue waiting under the door.  I gratefully accepted and blew my nose.

Through ringing ears I heard her say “OK, I’m going now.  You stay in there as long as it takes to pull it together.  And baby girl, never, ever let them see you cry.”

The rebuke shot like a rod giving straightness to my backbone.  Her soft slippered tread could be heard on the cold tile out the door until it whispered shut behind her.  I resolved right then and there to be untouchable, always outside the reach of my little turd of a supervisor.

It never happened again.

Another day in the same ladies room I came to wash my face and was met by the sound of sniffling.  Reaching for the tissue I intended to pass under the cubicle door I was stopped sharply by the sound of violent retching.  Wordlessly I slipped to the kitchen, grabbed a glass of water and pushed my shoulder back through the door.  She was kneeling at the bowl when the tissue and cup were slid under the door.  Maybe I imagined it, but I remember hearing a strangled thanks.  Quickly I splashed cold water over my face, dabbed it with paper towels, and returned to my desk.  Several months later four ladies announced their pregnancies in my firm.  I can only guess at which one of them I had found weeping and scared on her knees that day.

The Ladies’ Room is the seat of power in that place and all like it.  Good news is shrieked out in giggles, gossip whispered, and mascara applied under bright lights in front of the mirror.  Lunch hours and happy hours and hours of need alike are prepared for in front of that mirror.  Nature calls a lady in but she also comes on her own power when in shock, in distress, or for private moments to wash the boredom from her face when she is bogged down with an especially mind-numbing task.  Engagement rings and newly pregnant bellies are flashed and makeup bags litter the counter.

Every woman that has entered the corporate arena has fought her way into the territory of man.  Many of us have struggled, many have sacrificed pieces of ourselves, and many of us have scars from battles lost and battles won.  We have assumed our positions, lifted our arms, and fought our way forward.  Our power has grown and spread from its traditional place in the home and into the global world of commerce and trade.

But even as we worked to conquer this hostile new ground there is one place that has always been truly ours.  That place is the Ladies Room.