Friday, March 26, 2010

Cleared the First Hurdle


I turned off the van and rotated my keys to release them from the ignition. I opened the door and stepped out and squinted in the bright morning sunshine, suddenly jolted awake by a crisp, cold March breeze. I shoved the keys in my jacket pocket and stood in the parking lot for a solid thirty seconds.

I walked.

I opened the huge doors to this large, mammoth building and cautiously granted myself permission to move inside.

People were busy working, some moving around from room to room, some walking down hallways and entering doorways. I nonchalantly stepped over to the sign marked "Reception". A woman in her fifties sat busily typing at her computer, oblivious to the bundle of nerves and hormones standing in front of her.

I shuffled my papers around to make some noise. She looked up. She made eye contact and gave me that once-over that seemed to demand, "what do you want?". I cleared my throat.

"I'd like to drop some paperwork off for HR," I somehow managed to blurt out.

I wasn't sure how I had summoned the courage to speak.

"There is a mailbox in the Client Services room. You can put it in there."

"Where is the Client Services room?" I heard myself asking, even though I knew very well where it was and had been there dozens of times in the past.

She pointed.

I took a deep breath which I hoped would provide me with enough emotional fuel to make it across the spacious foyer to the other side of the building. A couple of women dressed in appropriate work attire walked past me, their high heels clicking rhythmically across the unyielding, cold floor. I glimpsed my own white, scuffed Skechers and somehow felt inadequate. I felt hundreds of eyes on me as I squeak, squeak, squeaked my way to the Client Services room.

Hmmm, I thought. There was no one there to "serve" me. I immediately found the mail box labeled "Human Resources" and moved closer to it. I paused. I breathed. My heart began to beat quickly and my hands started to tremble ever-so-slightly. Anxiety. A feeling with which I am very familiar.

I yearned for somebody - anybody - to reach out to me.
I ached for some lone School Board employee to place a gentle and reassuring hand on my shoulder and comfort me, to let me know that everything was going to be all right. To tell me they'd been in my position at some point, and that things turned out fine for their family, that everyone adjusted and was happy and healthy. As I began to feel I was drowning in my own narcissism, I stepped forward and did what I had come there to do.

I dropped my paperwork through the mail slot. It hit the bottom of the box with a resounding thud. I stared. I contemplated sticking my own hand through the 2 cm slot and pulling the envelope back out, or running back to Reception to beg the middle-aged receptionist who'd seemingly had no compassion for my emotional state to open the box so I could retrieve my paperwork. I would tell her I'd made a huge mistake, that I shouldn't have checked off the "returning to work" box at all. That I had meant to check off "resign" but in a moment of weakness had decided to go back to work after all.

Instead I just stood there for a few minutes. Incredulous that no one else entered the Client Services room while I was there, I took my time and gained my composure. I took deep breaths and walked out of the building, just as I had entered. I walked back to my van, I opened the door and sunk into the driver's side seat.

I placed the key in the ignition and I turned it gently clockwise, listening to the roar of my starting engine as I backed out of my parking spot.

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