Thursday, July 06, 2006

About Elaine

Day two or night two. Sunny with you filling in for Elaine while she's on vacation.

Thank you for all the great e-mails. I've still got a few more to read but they really made my day. Everyone was so supportive.

I'm going to write about Elaine tonight.

Okay, let's start with physical. She does put her hair in a pony tail some mornings when she's rushing. She can carry that off. She's very pretty. Her hair is almost black during the winter and then gets lighter when we have more sunshine. By the end of summer, it's amazing and looks like she got it streaked, but it's natural. I told her once she should get it done so it always looks like that but she said if she started coloring, she'd have to worry about roots and she didn't want to add another task to her list.

She has incredible posture and I spent months waiting for her to slouch, even in a chair. She never has. She took ballet and if I have a girl some day, she will too because her posture just gives her this great bearing.

She's really graceful. So even when she thinks she's being messy, it doesn't come off that way. A few months after I started, we moved offices. She said, "Wear sweats or something, we'll be in boxes forever." She did wear sweats but I felt like an 9th grader in gym class standing next to the homecoming queen.

So that's her looks.

She's very smart but I guess you already knew that.

Did you know she can be funny? She really can be. And she really loves to laugh.

So she's a really cool person.

But, and this is what I wanted to write about her, she's also a really cool boss.

This job was a huge step up for me. I needed it because I had rent coming due shortly and had just been laid off. I put in applications everywhere. She actually called for an interview and I went in. I was overdressed (looked like I was going to prom!) and so nervous.

I stumbled through about 15 minutes of questions. Then she said, "Okay, the interview's over."
Not in a rude way. I apologized and explained that I knew I wasn't qualified but I was trying to find any job I could. We talked for forty minutes and then she had to stop because she had a session that was about to start.

I left, went to the movies, had a HUGE thing of popcorn and just thought, "I can't afford this movie! Oh shut up and focus on the movie!"

I got home and there was messages from my friend Joyce (a job lead and just saying hi), two from my mother and Elaine. She said call so we could figure out when I should start.

I was just standing there shocked.

I had to play the message again. Then I called Joyce and got her to come over to help me pick out what I could wear to work. While Joyce was there, I made her listen to the message. She goes, "Yeah, you got the job."

My first 2 weeks were non-stop mistakes. I made one mistake after another. I thought each night, "When I go in tomorrow, she's telling me I'm fired."

That didn't happen and then mid-week of my third week, I asked if I could talk to her. I told her I knew I was screwing up and that I should start looking for something else. She asked me why I felt that way and I said because I keep making all these mistakes.

I said, "I'm not sure if you've noticed, but there are like a million."

She said she'd noticed but what she'd paid attention to was how I fixed the mistakes.

That was so different than any boss I'd had. She really gave me a sense of confidence. After that meeting, I didn't worry so much. She said that every day there were going to be mistakes and that the issue was to learn from them.

When we do evaluations, we do them. She expects me to come in with some critical comments of her. She tells me I'm not doing my job if I don't have them. And she really listens to them. Which is really cool.

I make a very nice salary. I have health and dental. I've got a 401K (which she says is a joke with the current stock market). It's just a really great job.

Once I got comfortable in it and got the job down more, I realized I'm mainly waiting around. When she noticed that, she said that since I had the swing of things, if I wanted to bring in a TV or magazines that was cool and not to worry about acting busy. So most of the time, I look at what I need to do that day and pace myself so I'm not just sitting around. There's probably four hours of office work. The rest of the time, I'm just answering the phone or monitoring the office.
It's pretty cool and laid back.

She's joined my mother in saying, "You need to get your degree." I did two years of college without even getting an associates. So this fall, due to pressure, I'll be going back. Elaine always points out, "I could drop dead tomorrow." She says too I may get bored and want to move on at some point. I don't think that's likely but I know she also thinks about closing shop. I don't think she ever will. I think she'll be sixty and still doing this.

But right now, I've got a cool job with enough money to go back and I don't have kids so it makes sense to use the time.

What else?

Oh, Rebecca's always writing about how Elaine doesn't get how pretty she is. She is very pretty. I don't know if she doesn't get it or if she just doesn't think it's all that important?

She also doesn't take any crap which probably surprises a lot of people because she's really soft spoken. I don't mean shy or timid, I just mean soft spoken. At the old office, there was a guy next to us who would always find a reason to come in and talk to me. He really got on my nerves but I just ignored him. One day, Elaine came in without him noticing and she just tore into him, asking him, "What gives you the right to speak to her like that?"

He was really oily personality wise, you know, like a used car salesman? And after I started ignoring him, he just started getting really vulgar. I would ignore him and think "Jerk." But that was it. After he left with his tail between his legs, Elaine told me I never had to tolerate that kind of thing. She said if it made me uncomfortable to say something to let her know and she would.

I think the thing I'm the luckiest on (and I'm pretty lucky, I know) is that she's against the war. I have some friends who can't talk about the war at work because their bosses (or their managers) freak out. When the invasion started, I was really depressed and still get that way sometimes. I can always talk about that with her. She gets depressed about the war sometimes too. Other than Guantanamo, the war's the only thing that gets her down.

She's dating a guy right now who seems really nice. And another cool thing about her is it's not all about him. Until Ramon, I really made my whole life about whatever guy I was dating. Elaine keeps her perspective. I admire that about her so much. If I were to dime-store it, I lived most of my life like a love junkie. Maybe it's getting older but I'm not so lost now. I can spend time with Ramon and enjoy it. I hope it's going somewhere but if it doesn't, it's not the end of the world. The first time I said that to Joyce, she gasped because that was so not me. I mean, I've dyed my hair before when a guy said he thought Julia Roberts was beautiful. It's been a long process. I think I owe a lot of it to Elaine who would be the first to reject it and tell me that I did what I did. But she's provided a really strong role model of what I can be and she's always believed me making her the only one besides my mother and Joyce who has. My mother has to believe me, come on, she's my mother. Joyce is my best friend. If she stops believeing in me, what do we do? Talk about how my life is over before I'm thirty?

So Elaine's just really cool.