Monday, October 3, 2011

ring cycle: growl

At the front desk, the receptionist at Hospice asked for my name then told me the person I'd come to see wasn't around.

"She's not in her office right now, but as soon as she is, I'll let her know. You can have a seat over there, if you like."

I was early: ten minutes or so. It wasn't even 8:30 and sure, everyone was just starting to settle into their day. That was fine.

To kill time, the receptionist gave me a clipboard that contained fire safety information and a confidentiality agreement. I signed them both, but really just glanced at one.

Coffee was offered. I declined. Minutes rolled by slowly, but without pause. Volunteers drifted in regularly, spoke as they passed the receptionist, made little jokes or gave details about lives outside of this building. Evidently, Ruby Tuesday is the best place for dinner in the free world.

Eventually, the receptionist spoke with who I'd come to see. After a moment, the woman left her desk, stepped into the hallways and coming only as close as she might a timber rattler, explained, "You'll be meeting with someone else. I'm the director."

"She's in a meeting now," the receptionist said. "She's doing interviews today." She looked at the closed door. The door had been closed since I'd arrived. The receptionist bit her lip. "I guess that one is going a little long."

I kept my seat, but the clock kept ticking. Wearily, I kept checking my phone for the time. I stood up. I sat down. I turned to look out the window. I watched the door.

Half an hour later, I got up, seething and politely told the receptionist, "I think I've come on a bad day. I'm going to go on to work now. If she'd like to reschedule, have her call me."

"Work?" The receptionist seemed genuinely puzzled. Maybe the process of volunteering for Hospice is long and difficult. Maybe she thought I'd come to see about a job.

I left.

Late in the afternoon, I got a call. Nothing much was said about my not sticking around. Nobody apologized. She offered to reschedule and for a while that seemed like a good idea until I realized I wanted an apology. I wanted her to fucking say she was sorry for making me wait out in the lobby for over half an hour. I wanted her to tell me that volunteers were valuable and that she felt bad for having wasted my time. I wanted her to gush. I wanted her to assure me that they weren't going to treat me poorly just because I had a conscience, because I wanted to do right by people. This was just a bad start and could we please try again.

I wanted her to kiss my ass.

And that's when I decided I needed to step back. I was annoyed at her for being busy. She hadn't meant to make me feel slighted. Volunteers were coming in regular bursts. They were in the middle of a project. Shit was going on and maybe she'd bitten off more than she could chew with her calendar.

So, I took a deep breath and apologized for being impatient and annoyed. I also explained that maybe this wasn't the best time for me to take this on. I'd missed the deadline for Hospice in the Spring by reaching out too late for the classes. This time, I just wasn't in the right place emotionally. I'm a wreck. It doesn't always look or sound that way, but I'm kind of screwed up right now and prone to moods.

I asked her if we could try again in the Spring, when I'm not desperate for warmth.

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