Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Tom Gets a Standing Ovation

Today marks my 21st year with my Employer.

I'm the only one who remembered.

No Supervisor or Boss patted me on the back... or head or shoulder to tell me what a good girl I am. Oh no. They expect me to show up and perform miracles because they give me money. Considering the compensation, I'd say my miracles are going cheap. I am currently between a rock and a hard place through no fault of my own. Well, maybe that's not entirely true. The problem is the truth. I'm pretty particular about telling it. So much easier than keeping up with lies. Unfortunately telling the truth at work gets you punished. Because the truth scares them. I think it's the part where I point out, politely, that just because "we've always done it that way" doesn't make it right. Or legal. Let us say that Affirmative Action and the phrase, "We should just all be so THANKFUL to have our jobs!" is their rallying cry. The only thing it accomplishes is giving them a false sense of importance.

I cried today but it didn't rally anything. Then I got over it. Mostly because I refuse to stoop to their level. And okay, because I decided to turn their game on them.

I've been told if there's something I can't do, then "let your senior citizens go out and make those contacts for you." Really. We need something big....the chance to stay in our Center all day instead of half a day. Five and a half years ago I was sent to "help" a co-worker learn to be a Director. She learned that she'd rather sit and watch me work. I learned to ignore her ignorance and focus on the kids at her site. And then gasoline started to climb. Given how much I am compensated for miracles, which does not include the purchase of gas, I am now on the verge of paying to COME to work. I need to get away from that 2nd site, where I spend 2 whole hours a day interacting with 5 children while the other woman...watches. Today we had one child who left after 15 minutes. I wanted to go with her.

Today I made a declaration to my seniors: there needs to be a Revolution. I can't throw the tea into the harbor personally, but I can draw them a map. In our PC world, that means I've given them the mailing addresses and telephone numbers for every politician who keeps telling me "just get those numbers up" even when I say, "If you'd untie my hands, I could." I'm good, but I'm no Houdini.

As I stood in the kitchen, wondering if anyone was even listening to me, one of the men, Tom, came in and said, "You always do such nice things for us. I did this for you." He's a retired professor who use to teach photography. Tom had taken a picture of my favorite flower, a yellow daisy, and brought me a beautiful print. It was better than a bouquet of the real thing on a day where I felt like I've been spinning my wheels for way too long.

What you don't know about Tom is how full of life he is...ready to try anything. He's in his early 70s now but a couple of years ago, he jumped out of an airplane with his son..just cause he thought it would be fun. Tom lights up a room because, even on his darkest days [which included Divorce #3] he can find that ray of sunshine hiding behind the clouds. Last year he cut his foot and lost a toe to gangrene. The surgeon didn't do such a good job. Two months later he lost his foot...halfway up his leg. But rather than mourn the loss, he found the challenge and rallied. He has a great sense of humor. Ever the professor, when his new "leg" arrived, I went in the Dining Room one week and found it on the table. A group of women sat around him in a circle as he raved about the titanium and quality workmanship. Walking by I said, "Tom, get your foot off the table." He shot back, "It's not my foot, it's my leg." He winked. They missed it. I caught hell. The point is, we both knew to laugh.

So today, on a day that should've been a personal milestone [or sign of insanity, I'm not sure which] Tom brought me a daisy which will never die. And he brought a second photo for the friends who've stood by him when the going got tough. It says "Thanks" on it. And it made me laugh so hard I forgot what I was suppose to be angry about.

How can you stay angry at the unfairness of it all when a guy who's lost so much can take his "old" foot and turn it into art? :)

Tom, this Standing Ovation is for you. And I expect you to lead the way when the seniors begin educating the politicians.

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