A woman I worked with at the thrift shop - a volunteer - wrote this in the good luck card that she gave me: "You have changed the pulse of this place. Your incredible humor, sensitivity, and brilliant sense of human awareness have contributed to a wonderful working environment. Kudos to you; the Capitol Center will love you also."
I worked with her one day a week.
What could these words possibly mean? Could there be a kernel of truth in them? Or was she sucking up - attempting to gain access to the vast fortune Carol and I have amassed over the years?
Because we gotta be rich, right? Me and Carol? Carol has been working for 46 years. I include the years she spent at home with our sons because, as beautiful a thing as that was, it was also a lot of work and an enormous responsibility.
I have been working for 40 years. I got a five year reprieve when I went to college and spent my time wisely, drinking excessively and playing pinball.
Truth be told we ain't got nuthin', so if my co-worker is after the dough she will be frustrated.
She gave me a bottle of Crown Royal. This woman I worked with one day a week and is a volunteer, gave me whiskey. I thought that was extravagant.
Another volunteer - again, a woman I worked with one day a week, wrote me a nice card and gave me a $20 gift card to the liquor store. Again, something I felt was extravagant.
Here's my point. I have been getting positive comments from co-workers for a long time. I am not trying to sound like an egotistical bastard, I a merely examining a phenomenon.
The first time it happened I was floored. I was leaving The Mitre Corporation, it was 1983 and a bunch of us were heading out for dinner and drinks. One of the guys I worked with said to me something like "You don't see it, do you?" When I asked what the hell he was talking about he said something like "the reason there are so many people here is because people want to be around you. There is something about you that draws people to you."
I never felt that, never noticed it, so I was surprised at the comment.
The next occurrence that hit me was when I was leaving YPB Library Services in 2005. I started out in the warehouse there after the business Carol and I bought went down the tubes and our life was almost destroyed. Got to know the warehouse crew.
Through a weird fluke I ended up in the accounting office, dealing with the "professionals".
On my last day, a friend from the warehouse came up to my cubicle and said "I respect you a lot because you speak to the executives the same way you speak to us on the warehouse floor."
Personally, I consider that to be the highest compliment I ever got from a co-worker.
I left the liquor commission in 2016. My co-workers gave me a $300 bottle of scotch. Three hundred fucking dollars. They gave me an oversized card signed by them, by most of the liquor distributor reps and by a lot of customers.
I got home that day, and it was a beautiful June day, poured myself a helping of scotch and sat on the screened in porch to read the comments on the card. Some of which brought tears to my eyes.
Here's the heart of the matter. I never took too much of this stuff to heart. Never let it get in my head; at least I don't think so.
BECAUSE I never believed I was being honest about who I was. I put on so much of a show to survive, that I thought people were liking me for the wrong reasons.
This time around, at the thrift store, it feels different. I exposed a lot more of who I really am. Through some strange thought process in my head it seems easier to relax in these part time situations. Maybe because it doesn't feel like our very survival depends on the job. I can probably pick up part time work anytime I want to.
So I got to thinking that maybe there is something to what these people said to me. Maybe I have something in me that people like, that makes them feel good.
Maybe I am not the phony I always thought I was.
All I know is that I feel more confidant now than I ever have.
Starting to think it is OK to like myself.