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Saturday, August 29, 2009


There's a woman, and I won't diagnose her exact impairment because I don't know for sure (I've suspected MR and schizophrenia, but what do I know?), who comes in my work from time to time. Most of the time, she has something she wants laminated or copied, or occasionally she wants something from the internet printed off when her home computer isn't fully functioning. No big.

Sometimes she's combative, which isn't so much fun. She also has a tendency to assume the things she's saying are perfectly clear when they are definitely not, and when she's cranky a lack of instant comprehension on the listener's part will really set her off.

Today she was in rare form. And I was intensely busy with several extra-tight deadlines. Phones were ringing, other customers were coming in, and this woman I'll call Alice wanted help writing an 'index.' This is not something we normally do in the printing business. Index whatever you want, we'll make copies, bind stuff, whatever. We'll fax stuff for you, print your index lovingly in thermography, whatever. But we're not really a copy writing service.

As near as I can figure, this 'index' was to a set of correspondence she's hoping will get her readmitted (on a second appeal) to a community college she was apparently kicked out of. Given how disruptive I've known Alice to be in my limited experience, I can't fathom what crime a teacher could commit that would warrant that teacher having to put up with Alice for a whole semester.

So here's the rub. I really wanted to tell Alice, "Look, I don't have time for your delusional bullshit, and I really don't know what you'd 'call' a letter from your grade school teacher abut what a model student you can be...' But besides being totally unprofessional, I can't allow myself to be mean to Alice. I don't know how independently Mo will ever live, her autism is pretty severe. But, say, she's living with me and her mother as an adult, or in a group home, if I find out the guy down at the print shop was an asshole to her, I'll break his legs. Alice has a different set of impairments, and not nearly as sweet a disposition, but still.

Alice was just the last thing I needed today. As I say, if it wasn't for rush jobs, I wouldn't have no jobs at all. And with the economy like it's been, I don't want anyone to think their rush job wasn't rushed. Whatever their expectations are, I want to exceed them, even if those expectations are unrealistic. That'd even be true for Alice if she wasn't one for picking a fight if you try to charge her anything for your trouble.

Don't get me wrong, Alice wasn't my big problem today. My big problem was me. Maybe rushing too fast to try and exceed those deadline expectations, or maybe I just had some flakey moments, but three times this week jobs have had to be redone because of stupid mistakes made by yours truly. What's worse, all three jobs were expensive jobs, sold by my boss. You only get paid once for a job, that's true no matter the economy, but fuck the dog on three big orders? If I was the boss, I'd say that's unacceptable, so I can't expect my boss to accept it.

And I can't entirely explain it, though the thought crossed my mind, that maybe, just maybe, if Alice wasn't in my cubicle trying to rewrite her goddamn index right now, I might not be making the next big careless error.

So the gravy on this big plate of shit? On the way home from work, I had a blowout. Gotta hit the Stuff-Mart automotive when it opens in a few hours and buy a new tire. I have big, exciting plans for tomorrow, hopefully they all work out and provide me with a delightful contrast to today...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

That sounds like a bad day, man. Sorry!