I’ll leave names out. But I think you’ll know who I’m talking about. That b**** at work. She may be a Laura, Genevieve or a Sue. I’ll keep your name safe, but I’ll proclaim what you do. You go into the stationary cupboard and get the best things out. You hear a new project idea in the tea room and claim it as your own. You tap loudly on your keyboard in our office with your acrylic nails. You yawn and sigh at 10am, yet you’ve already been out for three ciggy breaks. I can smell the coffee on your breath. You always say it’s your shout next time for the coffee cart, but next time doesn’t come around. You send emails with exclamation marks and caps-locked biting words.
And yet. You’ve been off work for three weeks now. I heard from Dan that your toddler has fallen ill. I heard that things have been tough financially since you have used all your leave. The snide remarks I’d say about you by the water cooler don’t seem so funny anymore.
The fact is that you brought something to our team that has been lacking since you’ve been off. Sure for the first day I enjoyed the freedom, but I’m starting to worry about yours. Yes you, I’ve been worried about you. And I’ve started to wonder what your child’s name is, as I’d never cared to listen. And I’ve realised that maybe I shouldn’t have been so quick to judge or blacklist your name. I know it’s not just because things are going hard for you that I’ve had a change of heart. The thing is I’ve missed you.
I’ve gone into the stationary cupboard and thought about the pink scissors you would have usually nabbed. I’ve taken them, but realised you were cutting things out to stick on colleagues birthday cards. I’ve missed the fact that peoples ideas are not coming forward, because I think you were just wanting the ball to keep rolling as you had things that you wanted to achieve with your workday. I didn’t realise that you have acrylic nails because you are trying not to stress and it was one of the tactics your counsellor suggested to stop biting your nails. And yes, you haven’t managed to cut the habit of smoking, but you’ve called QuitLine and started to wear the patches. You don’t chew gum after coffee, as you were worried that the chewing noise was going to offend the others in our office, as you heard Jerry make that comment once and you listened. The truth is your income is not as secure as mine or Jerry’s and you don’t even want to be in the shout. But we’ve kept on assuming you’ve wanted another coffee, as truth was we didn’t hear you say “no thanks”. Maybe that’s why you send those biting emails with capitalised exclamation. I haven’t heard you. I haven’t listened.
I’m sorry for the assumptions. I’m sorry for talking behind your back. I’m sorry for rolling my eyes when you’ve talked in meetings. I hope your child’s okay. I know they’re in good hands.
Elizabeth is a Mum to Grace, step-mum to Will, wife to Ricky. She is very changeable. Sometimes she'll identify herself as a social worker, other times as a writer or even as a Christian. She loves her town of Dubbo, New South Wales. Elizabeth studied a Bachelor of Social Work at Charles Sturt University.