We have a very special patron in my library. One who is handled with kid gloves, given above-and-beyond service consistently and who, for reasons no one seems to understand, requests and receives a packet of scratch paper every time there is a holiday–federal, religious, secular, makes no difference.
She is a crazy person, and I cannot understand why we go to such great lengths to win her favor as she has treated most of us appalling poorly at one time or another. But it’s not up to me. This was the situation I rolled into, and I deal with it even going so far as to find her three red velvet cake recipes once just to make sure she had at least one that she liked (I never got any feedback on that).
Now something strange has happened. This previously self-centered, “woe is me, the world is out to get me” woman has decided that my circumstances are worse than hers. This is something no one could have anticipated as she once lectured one of my co-workers about how tragic her circumstances are after that co-worker’s father had just died.
One day, I was letting this sad sack into a typing room, and she asked me about my job situation. Admittedly, when you think about it, my job situation is a bit pathetic–two masters degrees, no health or dental insurance, two days off a month, almost exclusively night shifts–but I don’t let it get me down! Except when quizzed incessantly by someone who thinks the glass is less than half full, I guess I come off a bit pitiful.
“We single girls,” she told me knowingly, “No one takes care of us.”
At that moment, the already small, glassed-in typing room started to feel stifling and a bit like a jar bugs go into to die, but I fought her negativity using words like stepping stone and resume-builder. I don’t think it made a difference.
I finally managed to extricate myself, but since that bonding session, I get the impression that the two of us are kindred spirits, and I don’t know how to stop it. She understands me now, and even though what she understands is a projection of her own craziness, her understanding, like the inexplicable packet of scratch paper, is just another part of my life.