We were surrounded by them, a small army of corporate fembots in Ann Taylor suits and Kate Spade shoes who doubled as informants for the bosses. MJ had a code name for each of them that she'd use in her emails or texts, when one of them was up to no good.
"Gucci Pants in the vending machine corner on her cell phone. Whispering. Someone's busted!"
"Peep Show complaining that we take too long on our work. She really needs to button up her shirt."
MJ was as tough as steel. She worked like a machine, she could drop the F bomb up to seven times in a single clause sentence, and refused to give credence to corporate politics.
The only thing bigger than MJ's truck driver's mouth was her heart. She believed in family. She loved her friends. She asked to see pictures of your kids. She understood what was actually "important," in life amidst a work culture where accidentally swinging an ax through your foot was not a proper excuse to take a sick day.
She was promoted to management. She trained new hires, she supervised people, but never once allowed her ego to interfere with her new level of authority. She was a motivator and a friend. It's who she was in life. At work it would be no different. Her tolerance for the fembots diminished.
"Botox Face just busted Jetson to the boss for taking more than three bathroom breaks in an eight hour period and forgetting to take his BlackBerry with him. Are these people morons?"
Work layoff #842. I am part of the "restructuring team," or whatever polite name they came up with for the group of managers in charge of the executions. We held secret meetings that spilled over into late night phone calls, until "that ugly morning" finally arrived. MJ was on the list this time. The reasons were arbitrary. They almost always were.
On that ugly morning, MJ stood in my office doorway, holding her "box of personal belongings."
"I knew I was on the list. Last night when I passed your office, you couldn't even look at me."
"I can't look at you now," I say. I start to cry. I hated my job so much at that moment. I'm not cut out for this work.
I walk MJ to her car. When I re-enter the building, I notice Gucci Pants in the vending machine corner, whispering on her cell phone. This place never changes.
But MJ changed.
She landed a great job a few months later and advanced quickly to a senior position. I saw her recently. She couldn't be happier.
We all know the adage, "When one door closes, another one opens."
Yet how many of us actually trust it when we are the ones waiting in the corridor between doors?
Especially if we are waiting in the corridor a long, LONG time.
Sometimes, the wait makes us doubt. Sometimes, we're forced to give up the things that provide us with a sense of security while we're waiting, and giving up those things makes us feel uncomfortable.
I've had to wait in a few corridors myself this year, and here's what I am trying to work on:
Becoming comfortable with feeling uncomfortable.
It's not as crazy as it sounds. Life is full of uncertainty. If we can learn to adapt to uncertainty, we are much better prepared for change. And change, as you know, is inevitable.
Sometimes I feel stressed in my corridor, but I try to relax and breathe. I remind myself of the law of impermanence, and that we all have much less control over things than we think we do. I remind myself of MJ. She's much better off behind her new door than her old one.
How many times have you made it through the new door and then realized that you stressed yourself out for nothing?
Hindsight is golden.
So is faith.
©2012 Ilene Evans