Ask just about anyone who knows me if my glass is half full or half empty, and they will emphatically tell you that it is half full, and maybe even 3/4 full. My eternal optimism–though I refer to as “living in denial“–has carried me through many sticky, sad, or otherwise awful situations in my life. I am ALWAYS looking for a bright side, a silver lining. Phrases like, “Well, the good thing about that is…” or “At least you can…” are on my most-used list. In fact, if you are in the middle of a bad time and can’t see anything positive, call me up. I can probably find it for you, because I’ve made thousands of gallons of lemonade from life’s lemons.
Of course, some situations are more challenging than others. Sometimes I have to dig practically to China in order to come out smiling. And naturally, sometimes I need help.
One of those times sprouted up about eight years ago. At the time, I was selling health club memberships and performing various tasks like writing the employee newsletter, acting as the clothing buyer for the pro shop, and many other miscellaneous duties. I was one of the go-to people there. I was a part-time employee working with a full-time membership rep in the membership office, which was front-and-center in the club for obvious reasons. We were the first people that our members saw on their way in. I knew just about everybody that came in, and had a little bit of knowledge about every area of that place.
Eventually my full-time co-worker put in his notice and left to work somewhere else. Soon after that, the manager of the club hired a Sales Manager. This guy was of the slimy, car salesman-like variety, but because I can get along with just about anybody, I told him I was happy to meet him when he arrived, and planned on being a good teammate. He had many questions for me about all of the things I did at the club. That was on his first day.
On his second day, first thing in the morning, I was told that I was being moved out of the membership office.
“What?” I said. “Why?”
I was told that because I did so many other tasks there in addition to selling memberships, I would be better off in a different office.
Number one: It was his second day. Insecure much?
Number two: We didn’t have any other available offices.
I went to the club manager, who I was very friendly with, and begged him to step in so I could keep my spot in the membership office, but he told me that I should just “try what he wants to do”.
So I asked where I was supposed to go, and you’re not going to believe it.
I was told that my new office would be the file cabinet room that was just off the main office in the back of the club, where our copy machine was. The file cabinet room had a door and it was smaller than a bathroom. Before I moved in, the room contained four tall file cabinets on the left as you entered, and four on the right with a walkway in between. One of the corners of the room had an oversized, unsightly mess of wires that made up the “brain” of the phone answering system, the computer networking, and, I think, the cable television for the club.
That would be my office. And that is why I cried.
Our maintenance manager, Hector, and his assistant (who happened to be his wife, Angie), two of the loveliest people I’ve ever met in my life, noticed how upset I was and comforted me. (Incidentally, they are both from Chile and Angie spoke miniscule amounts of English. Most conversations with her involved lots of hand movement and charades, but eventually we always understood each other!)
The three of us stood there that day, staring into the hole in the wall that would be my new home, completely silent for a few minutes.
Hector said, “Well, I guess we’ll get these cabinets out of here.” As he and Angie did that, I surveyed my space. I silently cursed the new guy, because there was absolutely no reason for this move. My desk in the membership office would remain empty after my banishment. The angrier I got, the more determined I became to find something good.
I couldn’t. For several days I went to work on the verge of tears, and when I went home I let them loose.
Finally, I decided to MAKE something good out of this bad situation. I decided that if I had to be stuck in this tiny, windowless room with no air circulation, in the corner of the club farthest away from every other soul, I was going to make it tolerable. I told Hector and Angie that I was going to bring a few things in to decorate and that I might need their help, and they were there for me.
I decided on a hot pink color scheme, because not only is that color a bright one, but it’s also a little rebellious. It also would be a reminder of my ability to see things through rose-colored glasses, and if I was lucky, it would really tick off the new Sales Manager.
Hector and Angie helped me hang a piece of hot pink fabric in the corner of the room to cover the mess of wires. They hung a shelf for my printer so I might actually be able to use part of the surface of my desk for doing paperwork. They hooked up my hot pink ball of lights so it hung directly over my desk neatly. They stood back and gave me the thumbs-up when I hung a picture (framed in pink) on the wall, to let me know that it was straight.
Out of all the things they did for me during that trying time, what I appreciated most was their presence. They hugged me when it looked like I was getting ready to cry, and they told me that it was going to be okay. When we were all finished setting up my office, it actually looked GOOD. We all squeezed in and admired our work, and shared the candy that Angie brought in, to celebrate the silver lining I had made for myself, with the help of friends.
©2010 Suburban Scrawl