|My little corner of the universe
It is Wednesday and I am again in my office with silence, my old friend, punctuated occasionally by the sound of my typing.
Yesterday I spent the entire day like this. I saw no one and no one saw me.
Today is much the same. There is no communication, except by email (rare) and telephone (even rarer).
I could walk down the hall but I have nothing to say to them and, in fact, I am doing my best not to say anything at all unless it is work-related. I’m not sure they want to say much to me either. I’m saving us both the embarrassment of making useless small talk.
I should not be surprised that no one has come down to knock on my door. Since the reprimand came down on Wednesday, coupled with my email to my supervisor saying I would, at the advice of my union representative, attend no more employee social functions, the word has apparently got around: he has isolated himself from us.
People I see, weary of me
Showing my good side
I can see how people look down
I’m on the outside
This was not my choice but my idea, enthusiastically pushed by my union rep. I felt I had no other choice.
An email needed to be re-sent for some information I need for a report. The original email, to a former co-worker, had been sent five days ago. She responded back to day, curtly, with one sentence and no greeting.
Previously, I had requested leave from my supervisor and had to remind her five days later for approval.
I listened in on the staff meeting held yesterday by phone conference. My supervisor recalled none of my projects including one very important one that necessitated her meeting with the Director. That was a week ago and she said she would get back to me. I’m still waiting.
I could have jumped in to the phone conference and reminded her but I wanted to see if my work was important enough to be remembered. It was not.
Crazy I know, places I go
Make me feel so tired
I can see how people look down
I’m on the outside
She is at the other campus, perhaps for the entire week.
It has been five working days since the reprimand was proposed. After five days, unless a response for appeal is made, the reprimand becomes official and is placed in my personnel file for three years. I did the paperwork with the union rep last Wednesday. I have heard nothing. I sent her an email this morning asking where we stand. I am still waiting.
I am a natural paranoiac, but I sense that something is up. Either that, or I have, again, been ‘rubber-roomed.’ I’m left to figure it out for myself.
Yesterday, I called the number for the Employee Assistance Program (EAP). I did not want to do it but I figured it was free and added a layer, however thin, of protection for me. Since I was no longer seeing a counselor, there was no real issue in having two.
I was treated politely and put through to an intake counselor to whom I apologized for telling such a long story. I had to repeat myself several times since she kept getting the sequence of events out of order, even after I had specifically told her the dates and times.
She then found a local psychologist and connected me with her office voice mail, which I left my name, phone number and intake number, provided by EAP so the counselor would know who would be paying her.
It wasn’t until I got home that I had the chance to look her up. After checking, I was very surprised this person was an EAP counselor and equally sure she would not call me. She’s a media darling, a book author and a marketer of . . .well, herself. I left a message at 5 p.m. and. . . I’m still waiting.
(PS: Oh EAP called – I didn’t hear the phone but I got an email. Wanted to know how things were going with my appointed shrink. I emailed back and said ‘I don’t think she’ll be calling little old me’ and attached one of the Star Shrink’s webpage URLs. Suggested we wait 24 and then try someone else. I got a response back just now (430) that went like this: I’m sorry I’m not permitted to consult further via email, but I know that we can offer other options if you would like to call back to the XXXXXX number.
Ah, there’s help out there. All you have to do is pick up the phone. . .
I can’t stress enough how quiet it is in this otherwise deserted wing of our office floor. Occasionally the silence is punctuated by someone going down the stairs, a scrap or two of conversation, but otherwise the only noise is the quiet hum of the air circulation system.
It is the kind of quiet in which all kinds of thoughts present themselves. It may sound pretentious, but I think to myself that I have lost all usefulness not only to this office, but in general. I had a good run, but it ends here, again, not with a bang but a whimper. I did things in my career I had dreamed of as a child but I always had this nagging feeling that after some close calls, my need for security and mental quirkiness would box me in somewhere where I would sit in silence and contemplate what was and what might have been.
I dealt with my issues as best I could, fighting an enemy I didn’t understand. Perhaps making it this far was an accomplishment.
Most of the time I am tired, I think probably because this whole 18 month ordeal has worn me down.
It’s funny, if I ever meet Robert DeNiro, I could tell him that mimicking his quote from The Untouchableswas the final stupid thing I said that led to the deluge.
But the only thing I ever really wanted to say
Was wrong, was wrong, was wrong
All I ever wanted was to be relevant in some way to some greater cause. And to have real friends I could trust that I could be myself around. And because of my illness, I could and did have those things, but only for a short time.
I don’t want to believe this is the end of my usefulness.
But in the silence, I can’t help but think that perhaps I have played my last hand.
It’s that little souvenir of a colorful year
Which makes me smile inside
So I cynically, cynically say the world is that way
Surprise, surprise, surprise, surprise, surprise
Lyrics: ‘Here’s Where the Story Ends,’ by The Sundays (1990)