May 12, 1999
The Honeymoon Is Over


The honeymoon is over.

It was wonderful while it lasted. I loved the attention, and the flowers, and the e-mail, the compliments. I loved that lovely *new* feeling, as we were getting to know each other. I loved the cutely awkward way we tiptoed around those first few weeks, learning to accomodate and please each other. I didn't even mind making the coffee. But now ... the honeymoon is definitely over. And I have to face the fact that the whole thing has become ...

... just another job.

Sigh.

That's right. It's been three months since I started the new job, and some of the bloom has definitely left the rose. 

Mind you: I'm not complaining. As a "career receptionist," I've learned the difference between a good job and a job where you're treated like an answering machine with boobs. And after 20+ years  --  whether through talent or timing or sheer dumb luck  --  I seem to have landed one of the good jobs, finally. I like 99.997% people I work with. I like the atmosphere around the office, even [especially?] on those frantic "deadline days." I like riding in an elevator every morning. I like drinking free Peet's Coffee. I like the fact that my boss wasn't born the year I graduated from ninth grade.

It's just a great job, all the way around.

But after three months, some of the bright shiny *newness* has worn off. It was inevitable, of course ... and like I said, I'm NOT complaining.  But I do find that I'm being forced to make some decisions, all of a sudden, about how invested I want to become  --  personally and professionally  --  in this job.

And that is something I wasn't expecting, quite so soon.


*    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *    *


It has been my experience that there is at least one person, in every office, who delights in making the receptionist feel small.

Refusing to make eye contact. "Forgetting" my name every morning for two years. Speaking to me very s l o o o o w l y ... as though I'm not quite bright. Breezing past the front desk without so much as a hello or a goodbye or a fart in my general direction. Expecting me to lie to callers ("He's 'away from his desk' -- would you like his voicemail?") ... and then coming unglued when an important call is missed ("Why didn't you page me?") Silly little power games. This stuff used to absolutely devastate me. I spent more than one lunch hour in the ladies' room, over the years, patching my Maybelline back together after someoranother humiliating encounter. When I was 22, I actually quit my job after a horrible little man -- with, I suspect, an equally horrible little penis -- spent an entire summer calling me "You."

Even as recently as last summer, working at the much-ballyhooed Knife Factory, I was still allowing my mood to rise and fall according to the whims of The Office Asshole. ("Did I say cream and sugar? I meant black.")

When I started this job in February  --  look out: here comes the *obligatory sobriety reference*  --  I knew that I would encounter this same sort of crap eventually.  But assumed I was better equipped to handle it.  Not only because I was sober, but because I now had a deeply satisfying life outside of the office, as well. I knew that no matter what happened at work, it would be just that: something that happened at work. The entire universe would no longer revolve around 9 to 5. And you know what? For the most part, I was right. I AM better equipped to handle it. Within the first couple of days, I'd already figured who was worth "romancing"  --  that is, who within the executive ranks was worth befriending and impressing and generally winning over  --  and who was going to look down at me no matter what, simply because I sit at the front desk and answer phones for a living.

In other words: who was worth the effort and who wasn't.

My plan was simple. If someone treats me with courtesy and consideration, I'll knock myself out to do a good job for them. And if someone treats me like some sort of inferior office appendage ... I'll STILL knock myself out to do a good job for them. I just won't allow myself to become emotionally invested. I sure as hell won't waste a drop of Maybelline on them. 

And  --  most importantly  --  I will never ever EVER bring any emotional garbage home from the office. Because -- when it comes right down to it -- it's just a job.

That was the plan, anyway.

To Be Continued ...


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