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I earned my therapist merit badge today. Chaos continues to be the theme of the week. I wish I was playing baseball so I could say, "There's no crying in baseball." I've always said that a large percent of my job is actually that of a therapist, calming people down but today I took it to a whole new level.

One of my coworkers who can get quite emotional had a total meltdown over broken fonts, well actually there was a lot more going on but the font issue was the straw that broke the waterworks damn.

I came walking out of the bathroom and was heading back to my office when I saw her waiting for the elevator. I knew instantly I was about to be tested. Her eyes were already beginning to to fill. The receptionist was on the phone and she flashed me a look that said "Honey, look out, danger ahead!" I didn't understand the first two sentences she said because she was trying to fight back the tears and was squeaking and sucking in air. I needed to get her out of the reception area. The first thing she said that I understood was that she had left her PowerBook on my desk, so I herded her back to my office and I could tell she was loosing the battle. Her fingers were in the dam but it was only a matter of time before it broke.

My office mate who hates noise with a passion and is quite possibly the grumpiest person I have ever met was on the phone. I knew I had to get her out of my office before she lost it. I don't want to have to deal with two upset people, and my office mate would be extra grumpy for the rest of the day. I grabbed her machine and told her we should head back to her desk. I tried to calm her, then I sternly tell her to calm down, things aren't that bad. I'm sure there is a bit of annoyance in my voice, but I wasn't ready for this. By the time we were back at the elevators I was able to translate her sobs to understand her boss had yelled at her and she had requested things from her that she is unable to do since the font was broken. The elevators doors open and we get on.

The doors close and the damn breaks. Tears are running down her cheeks and flying to the elevator's floor. She lets out a wale, saying something about how it's not her fault. Her boss had called her stupid, lazy, and uncreative- none of this is true. Her boss has been lashing out at people all day. I got my lashing from her already, but I can take it. I know what's going on. Her mother just died, she shouldn't be here, she is upset with the world and taking it out on her coworkers.

"It's going to be Ok, I'll fix it, you're going to be OK," I say to her. I have a moment of worry that I am crossing the line of professionalism as I give her a hug. Her face is in her hands and she is sobbing so loud I take the time to hope that there are no people outside the elevators because there is no way they couldn't hear her. I grab her shoulder and say, "You are going to be OK, this isn't a big deal, we aren't on a crashing plane." The elevator doors open. There isn't anyone waiting to get on.

She looks up at me and I know there is no way she is going to calm down for while. I don't want her to make a scene in front of all her coworkers. I don't want to walk all the way back to her desk, past all the prairie dogs who are watching the train of tears pass by. I decide that we should jump into one of the empty meeting rooms that is closest to the elevator and calm her down. Things got worse before they got better but eventually I got her calmed down. It's amazing how well listening to someone and reaffirming them can help. The situation hasn't changed but their feeling have been validated so it's easier to take. I got her computer problems fixed and tears cleaned up. Of the time I spent with her less than a quarter of it was spent fixing the computer. I was glad I could calm her down. I hope she makes it through the rest of the day.

Comments

( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
southernpm
Jul. 29th, 2005 09:50 pm (UTC)
I loved the doozers.

Sorry to hear you were therapist and waterworks manager. You are a pretty great person.
itsolivia
Jul. 29th, 2005 10:40 pm (UTC)
i feel for you eric. poor thing. i feel for her.
also...did she (m) really say that to jenny???? that honestly doesnt sound like her at all.
trevorizing
Jul. 30th, 2005 02:25 am (UTC)
Aww, you're so sweet. It's okay, if someone is totally breaking down in tears, I think you're okay to cross the "professionalism" line and give them a big hug. Sexual harassment has made people so afraid to show any kind of emotions or affections in some workplaces, that it's gone a bit too far. I mean, you're gay! How could you possibly be hitting on her! :)

You can cheer me up anytime, BTW. :D
sisyphus238
Jul. 30th, 2005 04:46 am (UTC)
She's lucky you work there.
ewe_2
Aug. 1st, 2005 02:48 pm (UTC)
You are one wonderful person. I know what you mean about crossing the line. A younger guy who works for me lost it a few months ago. He was raised by his grand parents and his 92 year old grandfather got ill. Reality hit him when they wanted some one to sign the DNR forms. He broke down and started sobbing uncontrollably. So I gave him a hug and told him it was going to be ok. Didn't know what else to do. He's been fine with it.

:-)

D
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )