Thursday, August 26, 2010

Needy Coworker

I wanted to address the firing of our accountant, and the subsequent promotion of her assistant. The accountant is a wonderful woman, highly skilled, professional, and nurturing. Her assistant is a young recovering drug addict who started out as a server in the cafeteria. Under the tutelage of this motherly accountant, the young woman has been able to grow into a very useful assistant. But whenever I had the joy of working alongside them, it was very evident that the young woman relied heavily on the continuous reassurance and support of the accountant.

As you would expect, the residual effects of a wayward lifestyle are considerable. The young woman has a very difficult home life because her young boys lost respect for her from the days when they were in foster care. I learned that she would receive a morning wake up call from the accountant, and if the accountant felt an unusual amount of tension in the young woman’s voice, she would have a serving of comfort food ready upon her arrival. They would often have to take several minutes to compose and sooth the young woman before any work could be attempted. After any difficult situation (angry customer, heated employee meeting, etc.) a word of comfort would be applied liberally. They both seemed to benefit from the strange relationship, but I had thought of how exhausting I would have considered it.

When I heard that the accountant had been fired, I was certain that the young assistant would be devastated. I could not imagine how she would ever be able to face the job ever again, especially now, when so much responsibility would transfer to her shoulders. To my surprise, the surge of ambition kept the young woman on her feet. She seemed happy as a clam to have the opportunity to replace her predecessor. Now that I have the prospect of joining the same department, I wonder what boundaries will need to be set and what challenges I might face. I don’t do well with unpredictability. And I am not particularly nurturing.

I once had a friend that was bipolar. I did my best through her divorce, but finally had to distance myself from the situation because it had taken such a heavy emotional toll on my psyche. It seemed that no amount of effort would be enough; the more I gave, the worse she got. At the end of the friendship, she was ungrateful, and I was drained of every resource. She remarried a man that refuses to indulge her episodes of depression, and as a result, she is rarely depressed. He is very loving, but withdraws his sympathy when she is acting out. She actually fights her own depression to stay in his favor. It is a much healthier dynamic than her first marriage, and our friendship. We are now again on friendly terms, but with clearly defined boundaries. That lesson actually took me years and years to learn. So, the prospect of working with another unstable person is a bit unnerving.

No comments:

Post a Comment

We welcome your thoughts and experiences. Comments containing profanity will not be published.