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Susan put her hands up to cover her face while shaking her head back and forth. She was mortified, humiliated and utterly broken by having to admit to her boss that she was not the all together person that she played up to be.
Just having to deal with him knowing the truth was almost enough to push Susan over the edge.
Jim put his hand on her shoulder saying, “Come on, let’s go in the conference room so nobody sees you crying or the whole office will know something is up and the rumor mill will be buzzing by noon!”
With that, Susan allowed Jim to gently guide her into a room further up the hall. When she sat down, barely able to get herself under control, she stammered out, “Y-you p-p-rob-bably just l-l-lost all r-res-respect for m-m-m-e didn’t you?”
The shock immediately showed on his face. “Are you kidding?! Susan, let me tell you something, maybe it will help. You know already that I have the utmost respect for you. Your job should be done by two people, not just one, and yet you do all by yourself. You work with efficiency, clear more paperwork in one day than anyone I have ever seen before, making very few if any errors, even amid a multitude of interruptions throughout the day and, what’s truly amazing, you do it all without complaining. You handle people with respect, kindness and always smile at everyone. There is not one person that has ever come to me to complain about your attitude nor performance. Your job alone is an enormous amount of stress.
“I also know that Jason is not working right now and you are the sole supporter of your family. Being fully aware of what your hourly pay is, I am quite certain that is a huge struggle as well.
“Then two weeks ago you come to me with that request to alter you working hours and have to confess the reason why it needs to be done. It had to have been hard to admit that you were in trouble for writing some checks that bounced and then you couldn’t cover them, had to go to court and were ordered to do community service. I thought it was admireable that you were going to do it at a homeless shelter. It seemed fitting to me that you would choose something that was a service to others. That is why I so quickly agreed to do that.
“So, stress of the job alone is enough to deal with but then you were working from 7 pm to 7 am at the shelter before coming in here at 8 am to do your job. How much sleep each night did you get in the last three days?”
“Maybe four hours,” Susan replied.
“Okay then, for the last three days you have worked 19 – 20 hours daily which was a monumental task in itself and now I find out that you were doing all of that with the additional stress and pressure of living with an abusive husband! Are you kidding me? I now have more respect and admiration for you than ever before!”
At that, Susan buried her face in her hands again as she burst out with more deep sobbing. A flood of emotions washed over her; embarrassment, relief, shame, guilt, pride, pain and also anger. As she cried, Jim patted her shoulder gently. She had always thought he seemed like a sweet guy, 10 years her junior, and today he confirmed it was true.
What he had said to her, which she knew was the truth and not something just thrown out to pacify her, began to make her feel better than she had in a very long time.
As her sobbing started to subside, Jim began to talk once more. “Okay, I won’t call the police this time but if you ever walk in here looking like that again, I won’t hesitate to do it for one second. So you hear me?”
Susan removed her hands from her face and nodded afirmatively.
“Now, as for that bastard, what are you going to do? As just another person, not your boss, I am afraid for you being there with him. You know that you have to get away from him don’t you?”…
Teresa Marie 1/25/12 ©