There’s an advantage to making friends, both in and around where you work. When I was away for Seabrook, I had to miss two days of work, in order to spend Friday and Monday in Charleston. Hmmmm… miss work, or get extra time to spend with your best friends? It’s a hard call, really. Yes, that means I get my paycheck docked, too, but I’ll have to survive, this time around.
It’s possible that my co-workers missed me, especially my supervisor. They did have to call in a cashier, from a different location, to work on Monday, because they were short-handed in a different department. But the thing is, my boss and my supervisor can both depend on me to do what’s needed, and don’t have to explain anything to me. There’s thankfulness in having someone who knows their job, you know?
But the real surprise, to me, was how many students and professors had noticed I wasn’t there. To my knowledge, they never noticed if I was gone for a day during the spring semester. That might have something to do with there being multiple cashiers, and it’s always possible I could be on my lunch break or in the restroom, when my friends came through. Now that I’m the only cashier, though, they do realize when I’m absent.
It was so pleasant to have some of my friends come in and say “Where were you yesterday!?”, right off the bat. I wasn’t even given a chance to say hello, they had to know where I’d been hiding! Such a nice feeling, knowing that your presence is wanted, and that your absence is noticed and felt.
Later, I began to wonder what different people had told the customers, about where I was. My least favorite professor asked how my time at the beach was. Last person I would ever want to know where I am, at any given time. Some of my co-workers did know I was going to the beach, because I announced it to them before I left. Just to rub it in, you know. I’m “nice” that way. Then again, I didn’t rub it in with any of the grad students, because I thought that would be unkind. So, you can try and figure out who I enjoy being around more, if you like.
The next day, a professor (one that I like) came through and said he’d heard that I’d been ill, and hoped I was feeling better. My suspicion is that my supervisor told the regulars one thing, while my replacement cashier told them that she didn’t know, and that maybe I was sick.
Not that this really matters to anyone, but for as unrewarding as my actual job is, and as unintelligent as it can make you feel (being at the bottom of the pay scale can do that to you), it is SATISFYING to know that others enjoy having you around. Familiarity is comforting and friendly. When you’re working your tail off on PhD projects and teaching summer classes to students that don’t want to be there, or working even on weekends, in order to graduate, seeing a regular friendly face can make all the difference.
I’m that friendly face. And they missed ME. That’s enough to make me happy.