Sunday, August 21, 2016

Carol's Wild Ride

This story is about a friend of mine that I met at work but who became a constant in my life for many years to come. She is no longer with us and I miss her dearly. I only wish I had written this long ago. She would have loved reading it. 

I don't remember meeting Carol although she's told me about how she first started at the bank. My first memory of Carol is her as a phone rep working on the customer service line with me. She was very good with people on the phone but she was always getting less than perfect reviews for not taking enough calls....and that happened because she liked to talk. She would always tell me that they can't have quantity if they want quality. When she said it it made sense but in reality most of the rest of us managed to walk the fine line and give the bank both. It was a stressful job and misery loves company. We became good friends. 

Within 6 months or so of being hired as a phone rep I became the Unit Head. I had no thought of moving up the ladder at the time...I was pretty much pushed into it by the Supervisor. And it was a slick move; not by me, by her. The department consisted of a phone unit ( that we were on) and a written research side that handled letters from customers. Each side had a supervisor and both those supervisors used me for weeks as their own personal bitch while they decided which of the three 'contestants' for Unit Head would be the best one. Every day they'd swing by my desk and toss their phone messages at me, expecting me to return all the calls from irate customers while I also continued as a hone rep taking calls. And for way too long I did it....until an older woman named Jeri clued me in. Jeri had started out trying for the job but had dropped out of the running (because she was smart enough to know when she was being used) with no explanation. She told me they were using me and that I should give them an ultimatum....tell them either pick me or I'm out. Well I needed this job way too much to cop an attitude with them like that but I thought about what she had said and more time passed. 

Finally one day I'd had enough. I had made noises to each of the supervisors in an attempt to let them know they were overloading me. Neither one took the hint so I told my immediate supervisor that I was no longer interested in the job. Not long after that I was called in to speak with the manager. She tried to convince me I was making a mistake. So I took Jeri's words and made them work for me. I told her what had been going on for weeks and weeks and that if they didn't know by now that they wanted me then there was no point in me continuing to try for the job. I was given the job shortly after that. Jeri was right. I was just too young and inexperienced to see it on my own. 

A little while later I discovered that new phone reps coming into the department were making more money than I was as the Unit Head. Are you shocked? I blood was boiling. I found myself back in the managers office where I told her the problem. She did her best to make me wait for a raise and a crappy one it would have been no doubt. But I knew the game now and I told her I wanted more money now and now much. After much posturing and puffing and general bullshit she gave it to me. This was my introduction to banking life. But I this is supposed to be about Carol.  Please read on....

So Carol and I became best buddies at work. We took breaks together; had lunch together and had a lot of fun swapping stories of our lives. Upper management tried to discourage me from being so friendly with someone that reported to me but I didn't fit with THEM and they weren't exactly trying to bring me into the fold either. So my friendship with Carol became more subtle but it remained strong. Carol was a real person....someone that didn't have any pretense about her...the only person I ever knew that really was exactly what she appeared to be. She became a part of my daily life. She helped make the daily grind of the phone unit bearable. And time passed. 

One day Carol came to work and said her back was bothering her. She was not one to have many physical complaints and I had already experienced a back injury and knew first hand what back pain was all about. She said it came and went and she had no idea what was causing it. It was a persistent pain but not so bad that she couldn't work so she stayed. At some point during the day Carol needed to speak to one of our co-workers in the Research Dept. about a customer's account. The next hing I knew there was a small crowd over in that area and I could hear Carol (she was always loud) saying something but I couldn't make out what she was saying. When I went over there to join the crowd that was forming, I found Carol bend in half over the desk of a co-worker, unable to move and in pain. That back pain had turned into a back spasm and she was unable to move. 
Well, being the great friend that I am, I started to laugh. And I'm not talking about a, I mean a gut busting laugh. She started to laugh too but cut it off short and begged all of us standing around her not to make her laugh. Laughing made it hurt more. We tried to help her stand up straight or turn and sit down.non of it was possible for her. That made us laugh even harder and she quickly became the center of every form of humorous remark that came to mind. 

Now, having said I had experience with back pain I also had a prescription for a muscle relaxer in m pocketbook. I offered to give her one but she was afraid to take it, having never used a muscle relaxer before and it not being prescribed to her. So I did the next best thing. I called the company nurse. (Yes, back in the mid 1980's the company had a nurse....unheard of now a days) I explained the whole situation to her and when she stopped laughing (Come on, it was funny!) she asked me how much Carol weighed and what muscle relaxer I had. She ended by saying that it would not hurt Carol but she could not tell me to give it to her and instead suggested I give Carol this information and put the pills on the desk but do not hand them to her. (Smart lady. That way it can't be sad that I gave it to her). 

Carol took the pill and in a little while she a little more comfortable but still not able to straighten up. Someone had called her husband to come and get her. Carol didn't want an ambulance because she felt it would be too if that were possible. She wanted her husband (Tom) to take her to the hospital. So now I had to figure out how to get her down two flights to the front door downstairs. She couldn't straighten up; she couldn't walk; she was basically frozen in a bent position. Sooooooo I did the next best thing. I got her to kneel facing backwards in an office chair with wheels. 

So here is Carol kneeling on an office chair; facing the wrong way; tightly clutching the back of the chair with both hands; fluctuating between laughing and gritting her teeth from laughing; while I slowly wheeled her through the department, through the other departments; the double glass doors and into the elevator. She felt every single bump along the way as even the slightest thing that jiggled the chair caused new pain the muscle. But even though she was in pain she was able to appreciate the humor of it and her biggest problem was trying not to laugh as she got the grand tour to the elevator in style! Every employee we passed stopped to stare...some burst out laughing, other wondered what the hell we were doing and we had a small group that followed us all the way....supposedly in case we needed help but I suspect they were just enjoying the show. 

And in this fashion, with her entourage in tow and everyone looking on, I wheeled her out of the department; to the elevator; down two flights to the lobby. When Tom drove up to the front door I wheeled her to the passenger side of the car and carefully moved her in slow motion into the passenger seat....complaining but laughing the whole time. And she was off to the hospital where I'm told they gave her a shot that made her very pliable.  Ahhhh good times....good times. 

I miss Carol and the crazy fun we had at work. 

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Shay's First Blueberry Picking

There comes a time in every child's life....if they are lucky, when they will go berry picking for the first time. When I was a child my friends and I found blackberries to pick. We thought they were growing wild but later thought perhaps they may have been planted because as was the case more often than not when I was a child, I was trespassing during my berry picking. It's not that we deliberately trespassed (well, not ALL the time) to get our berries. It was more like we had no idea that just because you can't see the house doesn't mean its not someone's property. And so we trespassed and gorged ourselves on delicious blackberries and sometimes blueberries. However with the blueberries we knew darn well we were trespassing and did it anyway. Yes, we were rotten kids sometimes. 

Obviously as a child I had a lot of freedom...perhaps too much. That was back in the days when you knew your neighbors and they'd tell your parents on you if they saw you doing something wrong. So it took a bit more stealth and a little ingenuity to do some of the stuff we did. But we got good at it. 

My kids did not have that freedom. It was a different world than mine was and I am still fully aware of the stuff I was doing wrong, and wasn't about to give them the same opportunities. I took my kids berry picking at an actual berry farm...mainly strawberry picking. We'd take pictures of how stained with berry juice the kids were when they came out of the berry patch and laugh with the owners about how they should weigh the kids before they go in and weigh them when they come out. Not one of the kids came out with any berries in their containers but they'd all claim they didn't eat them too. I guess they were a little bit rotten kids in their own way, eh?

Well times have changed again with my granddaughter and yet not completely changed. We took Shay with us to pick blueberries at a farm and this was her first experience. She's not quite a year old yet so of course she won't have any memory of it. But I can tell her she didn't hate the experience and was mostly content watching us pick from her stroller and making little noises that were probably her version of encouragement for us. She did enjoy a couple of crackers while watching us pick and even when she was obviously a little bored with the whole process she did not utter any form of complaint. Kasey (my daughter in law) and I picked 3 lbs each and got out before it became unbearably hot under the tent. The berries are exceptionally sweet this year which you would not be able to tell by the sourpuss face Shay made when Kasey gave her some to eat. 

So Shay, like my kids, will probably never experience the thrill of finding her own patch of wild growing berries but I will continue to take her to pick the blueberries at Easy Pickings as long as she is willing. I used to take Kaylee but she's 12 yrs old now and that kind of stuff is no longer fun at that age. So it's Shay's turn now and eventually she will remember the outings and hopefully enjoy the memories like I do. And for the times she doesn't remember there will be pictures like these.  :) 

Shay got a little rambunctious with the cover over the stroller and felt she needed to get her feet involved. She certainly knows how to entertain herself!