Today is day 6 of my “working streak”. After spending two days at my new job in the jewellery store, I headed back to my previous employer’s office for the week to help out while most of my old co-workers are away in sunny Orlando. Despite that, I still like them.
When my alarm went off at 6am on Monday morning, it seemed to set off another little bell in my head that made me suddenly realize that I was going to do the 9-5 thing that day for the first time since February. “Whoa!” I thought, “and I want to go to the gym *before* I go to work?”, at which point I promptly jumped back into bed for another hour (hey – I’m low maintenance; less primping = more sleep).
As I made my way in, I noticed the differences between my experience the last time I went in to work and now. Driving instead of taking the subway? Dumb idea. New doorman at the office building who actually opens the door? Nice. A full size fridge and a wide selection of tea in the company kitchen? I do a double take. Really? Had this been there in January, I may have never left.
So this being “work” and all, I get to it. At first, it’s a little strange, but after a few hours, I realize how everything about it is so second nature to me. I’m amazed that the drawer in my brain where all this info was kept hadn’t been cleared out to make room for Rihanna lyrics (my favorite of which would be “I want you to love me, like I’m a hot pie.” I don’t know if I should shake my head, throw up a little in my mouth or sing along).
During my breaks, I find it amusing to ride the elevator with other “office” people. One man goes on about how inappropriate it was that both his cell phones were ringing during a meeting in a room where a sign had been posted asking people to shut off their mobile devices. He makes sure to say one of those devices in an iPhone. Twice. His companion offers him a piece of Nicorette gum. On the street, a woman in high heels talking loudly to the man walking with her smacks me with her oversized handbag as she gestures, not really noticing she’d just passed another human being.
Then, I indulge in my most favorite office ritual: the coffee. As I approach the counter, the barista recognizes me and asks how I’ve been. I notice all the other office people rushing around while I take my time to enjoy something as simple as buying a coffee. I jaywalk across the street, knowing just the right timing between the traffic lights. Emails are coming in. People are responding to me and they remember who I am. At the end of the day, I chat with the night doorman who seems as intrigued and slightly perplexed as most of the world is when I tell them about what I’ve been up to this year.
Call me Norm, but it feels a little like walking into Cheers. And it’s nice. What makes it all the more interesting is seeing the whole day and all of its little moments from the perspective of an outsider. I don’t rush frantically like the others I’ve observed around me this week, but I know all too well what it’s like to be in their shoes. Even stranger is realizing that people actually remember me, have noticed my absence, or in some cases, have just assumed I had just always been there, like the basic staples in your kitchen pantry. For much of my life, I was hardly even noticed by others, much less missed.
Actually being useful has been nice too. As much as I’ve been searching for my greater purpose in life, I haven’t really felt that I’ve had even a minor role to play on a day-to-day basis all this time I’ve been off. It’s helped me feel more confident about going in to the jewellery store for my next shift there on Saturday too. There is something about starting something completely new that often makes me nervous and self-conscious, and this week has been a reminder that I do in fact, still have a functioning brain and that there is no reason to second-guess my abilities.
I’m amazed at how keeping an open mind and simply observing, just being, has taught me so much this week, and I’m even more surprised and proud that I actually managed to do it. Maybe those hamsters in my brain are hibernating for the winter. Oh, let’s hope! In the meantime, I’d better take my cue from them and hop into bed. After all, I am going to work tomorrow.This post may contain affiliate links.
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