Yesterday someone walked into a room where I sat working and began a conversation with another person without glancing in my direction or considering the impact of her presence on me in any way. The two people in the room carried on their discussion, a completely casual conversation unrelated to the work of the office, in loud tones punctuated by laughter. Neither made a move to either invite me into their conversation or adjust volume or behavior to account for my continued efforts at productivity.
After about ten minutes, my focus had been completely destroyed. I hoisted my laptop from the table on which I worked and carried myself into another room, where I could complete the task at hand in silence.
An hour later, the same two people came into the second room to share a meal. We had ordered carry out. At that point, the visitor held court at considerable length, during which she called several people rude and used dismissive tones about someone whom she believed had insulted her. The guest controlled the conversation. I interjected a few comments, including voicing the possibility that the alleged insult might have been innocent. My remarks held neither sway nor interest. I finally subsided. Clearly my opinion had no merit for this individual.
I got home last evening after the gorgeous Delta sunset. I made a small meal. I sat looking at the news online, texting with my son, and drinking cool water. I thought about the person for whom I served as a mild annoyance. She knows nothing about me, nor does she care to know. If she knew about my sixty-three years of living, would she value my observations? If she saw me in my native state, with my law license on the wall, would I be visible to her? What of my emotional reaction to her complete dismissal of my existence? Is that argument enough to throw this paraprofessional work to the curb? Should I just get a job doing something wholly unrelated to my past life, but where I can garner some semblance of respect?
That’s unfair, really. In the other office where I work, I’m given a large measure of due. I’m no longer the Empress of the Universe, it’s true; but I’m regarded as intelligent, capable, and worthy of someone’s time. I rise to that expectation.
I’ve learned a hard lesson. I have always believed that I made a terrible boss, but I didn’t think I treated anyone as less significant because I was a lawyer and they were not. If I yelled, my anger rose from fear that we would fail our clients. If I did not heed someone’s suggestions, it was not because I thought myself superior, but because my methods had proven successful enough to warrant repetition. But still, a nagging feeling lurks. Did I ignore people who by some artificial standard might be considered less accomplished than I?
I’m dragging a crumpled page of phone numbers from an old pocketbook. I might have to make some apology calls.
It’s the second day of the fifty-ninth month of My Year Without Complaining. Life continues.