When I was working, taking time off was, well, confusing. Sometimes you had to fill out a form, but not all the times. And sometimes you could take time off even if your co-worker was also gone, but other times you couldn't. And sometimes it was okay to take time off to take your kid to physical therapy, but other times you were told to schedule that kind of stuff after hours. Sometimes I could leave at four o'clock to go to my grief counselor, but other times I had to cancel at the last minute because for whatever reason it was now decided I couldn't leave the office closed for half an hour (even though it was a slow day). I was never good at being able to tell which situation warranted which rule. And that made me exhausted. And crabby.
It was akin to tiptoeing up to your alcoholic mother and asking her to please sign a school permission slip; you never knew if she would slobber you with sloppy kisses, slurring about how you were the only light in her life and the strength that allowed her to wake each day, or if she was going to fly into an angry rage, chucking coffee cups against the back wall as she screamed about how you're the single worst mistake she ever made and you ruined her life.
*note: I am only assuming. My mother is not an alcoholic.
However, I did spend a fair portion of my young adult life
watching way too many Lifetime movies.*
Anyway, so now I have time. Time to sweep the floor. Time to eat my breakfast without watching the clock. Time to throw a load of laundry in - which I did not, because I read that in order to be a successful stay-at-home person you needed to establish a schedule, so I designated Tuesdays as Laundry Day, and today is not Tuesday, it's Monday, and Monday is Library Day, so I went to the library instead.
I went to the library where my mere existence offended Cheryl, who was obviously no longer thrilled by her employment, as evidenced by the way she sighed through my checkout. And then I offended Cheryl further by daring to ask if she had the books for the Adult Book Club. Apparently, the books are kept on a shelf off to the side of the circulation desk. I had no idea because I've never participated in book club before but I learned this by the exaggerated way Cheryl looked off to the side at said shelf and the exasperated way she explained that no, no the books were not on the shelf where they are kept for book club because if they were there then I would see them. And if she had the books she would have put them on the shelf, but she didn't put them on the shelf because she obviously doesn't have them yet.
Hey, anyone want to join the library book club with me?
It sounds like loads of fun!
I wanted to whisper to Cheryl, let go. Let go now! I wanted to tell her that I get it. I get hating your job, but guess what, Cheryl? You could let go and let someone else cherish that position! I am sure there is someone who gets all excited at the thought of lining books up like square little orphans just waiting for someone pick them up and take them home. I am sure there is someone that would get excited about the fact that a new face wanted to participate in an activity sponsored by the library. And I am sure there is someone who dreams of nothing else but to be the one who assists in the sharing of thoughts and opinions and creative imaginations that each book holds.
Then I thought, but what if Cheryl is that person?
What if Cheryl loves the library more than any place on the planet? What if she takes pride in putting the books back properly on the shelves so each and every one is easy to find? What if she wishes everyone loved to read as much as she does? But what if the logistics of her employment are confusing? What if there are things going on behind the scenes that I cannot see. Things that make her tired and exhausted and suck the joy out of her passion?
Who am I to think I can even begin to understand the why behind our twenty seven second interaction. Who am I to judge?
And so, today, Cheryl, my heart goes out to you. I pray that whatever is crooked be made straight again. That whatever is confusing will be made clear. That the hearts that need to be softened are. That joy is restored and passion is renewed. And that from here on out, you only feel good, really good, when you come to work.
I pray this because I am you, Cheryl. We all are. At times, crabby and tired and misunderstood. Or not bothered to be understood at all. I pray this because, honestly, it's just too easy to walk away. And God didn't put us on this planet to just walk away.
I'll see you when those books come in.