The new girl at work is heartily offended.
She's been describing it to me for quite some time now.
“I’m just not doing it,” she proclaims heatedly. “She can just forget it. I’m not doing it.”
What the new girl isn’t going to do, exactly, is not important.
What’s important is that whatever it is? She’s not doing it.
“Look,” I say, “You shouldn’t take it personally. It just needs to be done, and it falls under your duties. The person who asked you to do it has been here for a long time. I’ve always found her to be easy to work with. She probably has good reason for needing it so quickly.”
“Oh, I’m not taking it personal,” she cries, her feathers visibly ruffling. “I’m a professional.”
I close one eye, cock my head to one side, get a better look at her. The new girl is an unwrinkled, clueless newbie not long removed from doing keg-stands at garage parties. Word on the Acme Grommet and Napkins street is that everything she’s learned about working full time she’s learned from TV sitcoms. I’m starting to see where they’ve gotten that impression.
She’s still talking. “I’m not taking it personal,” she challenges.
I nod at her, careful to maintain eye contact. She’s young, and it’s clear that it’s starting to become apparent to her that the people she’s seen working nine to five their whole lives have not been doing it, necessarily, because they love it but because they have to.
It’s a very dangerous point in her career, and one must be careful not to turn one’s back.
“You’re doing a good job. I can see that.” I am using the voice I reserve for serious children and the adamantly inebriated.
“I am! I’ve been working a long time and I know what I’m doing.”
“Of course, you do,” I murmur. I wonder if I was ever this obnoxious. I decide I was. I wonder, too, if there were older office folk who took me by the hand and helped talk me off the figurative administrative ledge.
I decide there was.
“Let’s see what we can do about finding some alternative ways around this,” I say.
Newbie tosses her hair back. She is enjoying her indignation and doesn’t want to part with it too quickly. “I know what I’m doing,” she says.
“Of course you do.”
“I can see that.”
There is a slight pause.
“Can you help me?”
It’s the first reasonable thing she’s said since marching in and taking root in front of my desk 10 minutes ago.
“Absolutely,” I say.
“I’m just really new,” she says.
“That’s all right,” I sigh. “Some day, you won’t be.”
Five in Five: Tuesday, January 23
7 hours ago