Monday, July 30, 2007

Dear Crazy Cat Lady

Here's the thing: by the time someone reaches the age of...oh, let's say 50 since it's a nice round number...after a lifetime of living primarily in a very small, Midwestern town, shouldn't s/he have a faint clue about financial realities like "savings accounts are not good retirement investments" and "buying a house, having a (mostly unused) credit card--these are important ways of determining your solvency in today's economy?" Here's another one: just because you have a driver's license that you've kept current, does NOT mean that you know how to drive a fucking car anymore if you haven't done so more than five times in the past fifteen years!!

And yet another: paying nearly $175,000 in cash for a condo...after twenty-plus years of paying rent...uhm, makes some people want to hit you about the face, neck and shoulders. Not me, I'm pretty much 'only' green with envy. But other people who are up to their necks in mortgages, doctor fees for their kids, college tuition payments, and unemployment paperwork...yeah, they don't want to hear about any theories that listing a condo for $180,000 in this area is "highway robbery." Hint: most townhouses and condos in our lovely city are running over the $200,000 mark for a newish one in a decent part of town.

Leaving that aside for now, here's the other thing: when someone on a small staff like we have where I work gets sick or has family emergencies crop up, the rest of the staff needs to be willing to be a little flexible. Last week was, apparently, the week to a) go on vacation, b) have a sick family member take a turn towards 'terminal' (and I don't mean an airport), or c) have one of those annoying minor emergenies (car trouble, minor illness, etc.). There simply were not enough people around to cover hours some days. Yes, we all know that the library is obliged to give us a half-hour for lunch and two breaks over the course of the day (which we've all ended up doing as an hour-long lunch because otherwise it's just too complicated to schedule the damn breaks). Yes, I know that it's easy for me to skip a lunch break and just eat at my desk in the workroom. All ducky for me then, right?

But here's the real deal:

When you call in sick, we all cover. When you go home sick, we all cover. When you have emergencies, we all cover. We switch our schedules around--and have for YEARS!!--to work the hours that you can't manage to be here, because you are "owed" time off.

Turnabout: one of the rest of us gets sick/goes on vacation/has a family emergency. If the our time away happens to fall on days you are already here, you'll cover. If it means working extra hours, or coming in on short notice (from where you live two blocks away), FUCK NO! If there is a library emergency--like a loss of power or a roof leak--even though you've been here two decades, we never call you. Why? Because you won't/can't come and help. Instead, we end up calling people who live several miles away, or in another zip code, to handle things. Those people have families, mortgages, social lives, and other commitments. You have...uhm...checking...NONE OF THE ABOVE! NONE of the FREAKIN' ABOVE: no life, no friends, no commitments: you have elderly parents that drive you around, and a cat. Yeah, and cats are that dependent, too.

I guess, just once, I'd like you to pull your head out and look around. Notice that when the schedule crashes and burns, most people drop what we were doing and scramble to rethink it. When someone gets hurt outside the building, most people don't stand around flapping their hands and squealing: someone calls 911, someone else stands with the injured person, someone else documents the situation, and someone else (several, really) keeps the library running smoothly. With one exception besides you, no one expects to be 'comped' time, no one freaks out because they have to be home right at 5, not 5:10.... Dear God!

The whole situation makes me want to cry. As someone said to me last month, I wish I could feel the joy of "I told you so" when everything we've been saying about your life crashing down comes true, but it's just so pathetic. What a waste. What a freakin' waste. My teenage son has more on the ball than you do--not much, mind you, but he's 14. You are...several decades older than that. The 90-something-year-old on staff is busier, more active, more aware of what's going on around her than you are, by leaps and bounds. And she's several decades older than you! Even my mom--who is just about as clueless as one can be about an awful lot of stuff--still has enough sense to make decisions that take you FUCKIN' WEEKS to mull over! And my mom can't chew her own food or walk to the bathroom anymore, so where the hell does that leave you?!

You know that line that The Who wrote forty years ago? They were writing about YOU!!! I, also, hope I die before I get to be as old, and stupid, as you. My patience with you? Gone. My sympathetic ear? Deaf. Find someone else to talk to. This office is hereby closed.


That's the post I wanted to write Tuesday. And Friday. Words completely failed me.

This weekend was a wonderful tonic to last week. I am a little concerned that it will all commence again tomorrow when I get to work, but maybe not: the boss will be there, so perhaps there will be less "yabbada-yabbada" and more actual work being done.

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