I have a full-time job with benefits for the first time since 1984.
Gosh, it sounds funny to even write that. As a stay-at-home mom and then a caregiver to my dad, I’ve worked full-time forever.
And I’ve had great benefits. The kind “real” employers can’t possibly offer.
But that’s probably a post for another day.
I have a full-time job.
A little over a year ago, I started working at the front desk at the same sports facility where I’ve worked many years in aquatics. Part-time, of course.
It is so much fun. I look forward to going to work every day.
When a woman retired in June, my boss asked if I wanted to come on full-time.
“Um, letmethinkaboutthat-no,” I said, all too quickly, clearly not thinking about it, because, seriously, I haven’t worked full-time outside the home in 37 years.
They hired someone else who left within a few months for a better job.
I mean, really, who wants to be part-hostess, part-policeman, part-retail sales clerk, part-telephone operator, part-let-me-help-you-with-_________(fill in the blank)?
Yesterday I was reminded all over again why I love this job.
One of the perks is paid work-out time. Yep, I get paid to go swimming if things are quiet. Yesterday I took advantage of that.
As I was changing back into my work clothes after a swim and a shower, I heard a woman crying. We were the only two people in the locker room. She was sitting on a bench in the shower area, her head in her hands, weeping.
“Are you okay?” I asked. (Dumb question — clearly she was not.)
“No,” she said, looking up at me.
“Can I do anything for you?” I asked.
“No,” she said, and she proceeded to tell me her story. Her husband was very sick. He was waiting to be transferred to a hospital in New York City. The helicopter had been arranged but then the weather didn’t cooperate. The bed that was being held for him in New York was given up. Then the helicopter was able to fly but there was no bed for him. Then there was a bed and a helicopter but his condition had deteriorated so that he needed a procedure to stabilize him. “He’s in the OR now,” she said, “and I just walked down here to take a shower and clear my head.”
“I’ll pray for you,” I said, but it sounded trite. I think she needed a hug.
“I’d hug you,” I said, “but it would be weird. I mean, you’re wearing just a towel, and social-distancing, and all that.”
She looked down at her towel and laughed. “You’re right.”
“Are you sure there isn’t anything I can do for you? Have you eaten today?” I asked again.
“No, no. I’m fine. I need to get going back to the hospital,” she said.
So I left her and went back to work.
At the front desk.
Suddenly, I remembered something in my bag. I ran to my staff locker and found it — a new little journal and a good pen.
When she came out, I handed her these two items.
“I know this seems weird,” I said, “but I want you to have these. While you’re sitting and waiting, write your feelings. It may help. Or write down the times and places you need to remember. Or scribble angrily. It’s okay. Putting it down on paper may help.”
She took them and thanked me. I thought she was going to cry again.
The front desk phone rang and I hurried back to answer it.
While talking on the phone, I watched the woman pull on her coat and her pom-pom hat. She waved as she walked out the door.
In that moment I knew why I love this job so much — it’s because I get to meet people like her.