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Boy, Was My Face Red

Posted Jan 02 2013 5:07pm

On this day 16 years ago (!!), I started a new job.  I was terrified, I’m not ashamed to admit, as I sat on the visitor’s couch waiting for my new boss to come out to the reception area to claim me.  It was my first full-time job since 1990; after my kids were born, I had switched to part-time hours at the place I worked previous.  I was rusty anyway, whether full- or part-time, because I’d been staying home for the past two years after my youngest was born.  I had dropped my kids off with their new daycare lady, and that alone was nerve-wracking.  (Would they hate it?  Did they miss me?)  I wasn’t sure I could even do the job I’d been hired for, but providing for the family was solely my responsibility; I was new to the single mom gig as of the past couple months.  I had to make this work.

After waiting a while, I heard a brisk clack-clack-clack from down the hall, and saw my new boss rounding the corner.  I stood up and smiled as she came to a stop in front of me and demanded, “Why are you here?”

To say that it wasn’t the greeting I expected would be a gross understatement.  I was horrified and embarrassed, to say nothing of confused.  What had I done wrong?

It turns out she wasn’t expecting me on that day; in fact, I got the impression she didn’t feel she had actually given me the job.  She just seemed completely stunned that I was there, and I couldn’t tell whether I had shown up on the wrong day or if I had somehow seriously misunderstood and she just plain didn’t want me there.  I mean, she had called in December to offer me the job, told me the starting salary, we agreed on my starting date…it was all just very bizarre.  To this day I still don’t know what the problem was; the only thing I could think of was that perhaps I misheard her on the phone and she said January 7th, not January 2nd.

I didn’t know what to do, so I asked if she wanted me to leave.  She shook her head, all irritated and rushed, and said, “No…I mean, you had to arrange daycare for today, right?  Just wait, let me see what I can do.”  So I sat back down, really embarrassed now as the receptionist watched with a look of pity in her eyes, and my new boss rushed away.

Eventually she came back with my welcome packet and a nicer attitude, and the day improved from there.  I ended up working at that company for five years, until my administrative assistant position was eliminated and my boss (the same lady from day one) went on extended medical leave.

This year could mark a career change for me, and in the back of my mind I’m always considering possible jobs or entrepreneur opportunities.  When I think about how scary it is to re-enter the job market after working for myself for so long, I just have to remember that day 16 years ago; if I could survive something that uncomfortable and come out okay, I can probably handle whatever gets thrown at me now.  :)


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