I was alone at work on Friday. Well, that's not entirely true. There were people in the building, I was just the only one in the office. I knew in the first hour - when the phone wasn't ringing and the door wasn't opening to let in customers - that it was going to be a long day.
I'm not sure what it is these days, maybe it's this, but I'm running terribly short tempered. I've been unable to keep my cool in the face of even a slight amount of irritation. It's unlike me to immediately jump to The Defensive or The Bitchy, at least this consistently. I am woman, and we are known for our mood swings...But at work, I'm a different animal entirely. I have a keen ability to be friendly and firm at the same time, and a fairly impressive knack for being a kind, smiling, perpetually nice person when it comes to customers. My voice is always cheery when I answer the phone, my attitude is always pleasant when customers come in to visit. But, when I'm in a mood like this, I see every phone call, every opening of the front door as an intrusion. An annoyance. Aggravation. And you would think that I'd welcome something to do, someone to talk to. But, instead, I have to fight to keep the irritation off of my face.
Earlier in the week, a customer of ours came in with his girlfriend and his girlfriend's son. Our customer, we'll call him Phil, introduced his girlfriend to my boss and me, and then said "And this is her son, Patrick." He put his hand protectively on the kid's head of sandy hair, then turned his attention to the child. "Patrick, go over there and hang out with Laurie."
This is not the first time this has happened. In fact, it happens all the time. And, at the risk of offending any parents out there, I just don't get it. What makes them think I want their kid to come over and hang out with me? Do they even care that the last thing I want to do is shoot the shit with a six year old? Why do they think it's perfectly acceptable to stick me with their offspring? I know that the very fact that they're there, in my office, implies that they have something to do or go over while there, and they don't want to be bothered watching their kid while they do what needs to get done. But I have things to get done, too, and I've never seen Babysitter on my list of responsibilities. And even if I don't have anything to do, I still don't want spend my time keeping a six year old entertained; I can think of a million things I'd rather do. I guess it's not the hanging out with the kids that bothers me most (but, yes, that does bother me), it's the audacity of the parent to think it's okay to shove them onto me. I wonder if it's because I'm a twenty-something, unmarried woman; perhaps they look at me and think Look at her, unmarried, no kids. I bet her biological clock is ticking like mad. She probably welcomes any chance to play with children. I bet she loves kids.
Hey. You know what? I don't. I don't love kids. In fact, I'm not even comfortable saying I like them. And, unless I have some sort of tie to them by blood or love, I don't want to spend any more than a minute or two with them. They make me uncomfortable, they make me feel weird, and they make me feel like I sound stupid. I can't relate to them, I don't have any patience for them, and pretty much anything sounds better than having to hang out with them. Particularly in an OFFICE setting, which isn't really conducive to child-like activities. They want to play on my computer, stand behind my desk, open my drawers, and color with my highlighters. Well, I'm sorry. My computer is my own, and I don't want some kid putting his grubby paws all over it, nor do I wish to take the risk that he could hit a button and fuck something up. I don't like anyone standing behind my desk and I don't want anyone in my drawers, due in large part to the fact that I just don't want anyone - child or adult - that close to me, sucking up my personal space. I particularly dislike children opening my drawers because they see letter openers and my fancy white-out and my hidden stash of chocolate, and a million colored pens and they want to touch or play with or eat everything they see. Which brings me to the highlighters. I'm so particular - possibly even OCD - about my writing utensils. I like specific pens, I like my highlighters to stay clean and maintain their sharp, perfect-for-highlighting points. Kids don't understand that.
So when Phil unleashed his kid on me, the kid did just as he was told: He came over and stood right next to me. And Phil and his girlfriend went off with my boss to finish up their work together. And they left me with the kid. For an hour. I would be lying if I said it didn't irritate the shit out of me.
Additionally, to round out my week of crap, I had fights with our vendors, audibly losing my cool over the phone when a certain guy wanted me to fax him the same invoice for the fifth time because he couldn't find it due to his desk being a mess. The fax machine jammed twice when I attempted to send it, and he called each time he didn't receive the whole fax to tell me that he did not, in fact, receive the whole fax. This was at 4:42. I leave at 4:30. I had plans for the evening. And they did not include fighting with a fax machine OR an incompetent, messy ass.
I was told by customers how our business works. Nothing, nothing, makes me angrier than being told something I already know. Yesterday, I said to a complaining customer that I was the only person here - because my boss is on a small vacation, and my other coworker is on her honeymoon - but that I would gladly have my boss give her a call, if, of course, he called in while he was out on his vacation. "Yes, well, he always calls in when he's not in the office," she said, as though that very day was my first time ever in the office without him. Apparently, it hasn't been me fielding his phone calls in his absence, giving him the status updates when he calls in from the road. It's been her. Silly me. And here I thought I've been working here all this time. Clearly she knows so much more than I do. Clearly. And another customer just explained to me that, even though I didn't see it there, I should have the key to his house somewhere in my office. He explained to me why I should have his key. "I understand that," I said, doing my best to measure my voice so that it came out steady, and not in a scream, "but there still aren't any keys for you here. When and if I am able to speak with my boss, I'll see if he knows anything about it."
"Well," the customer said, "you should have my keys."
By 9:30, I was ready to go home.
In a drastic turn of events, today, I was actually quite busy. And, in between answering the phones and making calls and paying bills and balancing the bohemoth of a checkbook I keep there, before I knew it, it was quittin' time. I'm cautiously optimistic that the rest of my week will follow suit.
As long as no one sticks me with their kid.