I might – maybe, perhaps, possibly – be seeing something very interesting happen in the cubicle beside mine.
I don’t spend as much of my day watching those around me as I used to. Fact is, I don’t have time to do so anymore. I have a relatively full plate, and enough code monkey work to keep me pounding the keys most of the time. I try not to hone in with my ears to the things happening around me either. Trouble, and possibly madness, lie that way.
So, I remain blissfully unaware of things going on in our business group most of the time. Tension, drama, pressure…I avoid almost all of it in lieu of my own, sometimes self-generated versions of the same. Most of the time.
Lately, though, I’ve been noticing something going on.
There are rumblings and rumors of departure regarding a long-standing, and valued, team member. She’s our Quality Coordinator, doing our Authorization to Return requests and handling customer service on that level for us, in a variety of ways. She’s also the Buyer/Planner for our group. She does a lot of warehouse work for us, and is the only other person in our group qualified and certified to run the fork lift for us.
Several months ago, she started seeing someone long distance. It coincided with our manager’s decaying attitude and the ability for the rest of his staff to communicate with and get attention from him. There is some consensus among the staff (there are four of us) the two of them probably had more than a passing or professional relationship with each other. So, when she started dating someone, and his attitude became touchy and unpredictable, it looked for all the world like the break-up wasn’t a clean one.
Of course, we could be wrong about that, and it’s not important anyway. Even to this post.
But now, with this person getting serious, the details begin to matter.
For one thing, he’s got children from a previous (and possibly still-current) marriage. I have heard he’s “going through” a divorce, but don’t know whether or not that’s final yet. But the children make things interesting on her end.
She – and let’s call her J for reference – doesn’t have kids. She has a couple of pets and has, on numerous occasions, used them as excuses to get out of after-work things. She’s also used them as reason(s) to rush home immediately after work. But now, the pets seem less of an obstacle.
She spoke openly recently to someone before one of at least two trips to visit him – and let’s call him C for convenience – and said the hardest thing will be (note the tense used here) leaving her mom.
She’s never had a relationship with her father. She’s been a mommy’s girl her whole life. I’ve sat next to her over a short cubicle wall now for two years and some, and she’s never been overheard speaking to her mother before. She’s always been quiet. Some might say sneaky. (I don’t, but others might.) She’s gone running at her mother’s beckoning before…more than once. And she’s always been a person who loved being here and said so. But things change.
Now, J’s taking her vacation in big chunks. Blocks of time which she’s earned to be sure, but didn’t take in big pieces before. She’s gone to the state where C lives but it turned out to be “business related” because she took her laptop and actually worked online (which was a minor miracle in itself). J’s on her cellphone a lot. A LOT. She’s texting, she’s Facebooking, she’s talking in hushed tones…and sometimes not so hushed ones. Sometimes I can hear it’s C by the way she’s talking. Other times a close friend.
But now, there’s concern from the boss – who is much better in attitude now than before, and seems to be beyond whatever garbage he had going on before – that she’s going to live with him there, in that distant state, because he has kids and won’t leave them. She was overheard by a reliable source (for me, at least) telling someone she wouldn’t ask him to leave them and it’s easier for her to go. But the hard part would be leaving her mother. She’s never been far from mom for more than a short time.
Now I hear her on the phone. She’s yelling (for her, anyway). She’s being harsh, almost mean. She’s cold, snappy, angry-ish. And she’s talking to her mother.
Why the attitude shift? Why the sudden chaffing?
I think she’s prepping. I think she’s mentally, maybe subconsciously, trying to put some distance between her and her mother. I think J is starting to take emotional steps toward leaving her mother behind, and doesn’t know how – in her late 30s – to do that.
I’m perfectly able to be wrong her. I don’t know J or her mom. I don’t know their relationship. I know only what I’ve observed, and as I qualified early on, I don’t observe as well as I used to, and probably not as well as I ought. So I could be way, way, way off base. I could be dead wrong. I could be flat dumb. I’m willing to accept any and all the above as true.
I just happened to notice. It’s not been one or two times. It’s been almost EVERY time J speaks with her mom now. And I wonder…just wonder, is all.
It’s an interesting place, the world.