I don’t know about other authors, but in the past when I’ve applied for jobs, the one thing that always made my heart sink was seeing that phrase on the job description….. ‘must enjoy being part of a team’. A love of silence, coupled with The Only Child Syndrome, goes some way to explaining why I have always been quite content with my own company. However, due to never having had the chance to gain any ‘ologies as it was always expected that I would find employment as soon as I left school, jobs where I could sit alone in an air-conditioned room without any background noise have always been strangely elusive. Over the years I have had various jobs, each one causing me to subdue a yearning to work unaccompanied and in silence.
My husband Sam works at home for an American company. Once a year he travels to Minnesota for a week to meet up with the rest of the ‘team’. On the first Sunday there are always team-building activities which would cause me to run screaming out of the door. He goes white-water rafting, canoeing, swimming, and plays golf etc. with all the other employees. In the evenings there are barbeques or big group dinners. He’s lovin’ it, lovin’ it, lovin’it.
Last month I had an email from my old manager at the hospital, who was sounding out in a roundabout way whether I would be prepared to come back to work as a bank secretary. The department where I used to work has had the addition of two new consultants, but apparently without any extra secretarial cover. Oh goody, if I went back to work there would be five of us women sitting in one stuffy office because everybody else is usually cold except me, and I’m the only one who likes the window open. The non-stop chatter puts my nerves on edge, one woman exclaims ‘Oh, for God’s sake!’ every five minutes, the phones ring constantly, other staff members, doctors, nurses and admin staff constantly zoom in and out asking questions, and the extra workload with another 2 consultants on top of the 5 doctors and 4 nurses there already are is enough to make my heart sink.
Compare this to the life I have now. I sit in my air-conditioned room at home, on my own, writing whatever comes into my head, or going outside for a walk if I feel like it. There is nobody looking over my shoulder, asking me questions, chatting about what they had for dinner last night, or asking me to close the window. My damaged voice is not hoarse at the end of the day, because I don’t have to constantly talk. Sam works upstairs, and we send each other Skype messages during the day. I receive a modest pension from the hospital to do with as I please, and Sam pays all the bills from his salary.
A few years ago I made the mistake of telling my head of department that Sam was away on a team-building exercise. A few months later we were all presented with a free voucher for one day together at a local health spa. There would be massages, swimming, lunch, aromatherapy, Reiki, more massages, and lots and lots of bonding. Fortunately it coincided with one of my major operations. The whole department lived it up at the health spa without me. However, I kept the voucher, which was valid for a year. I had a lovely day at the health spa to myself at the department’s expense some time later when I had recovered from the op…..
My workmates say I make them laugh, and they miss me. However, do I want to go back to work? Well…..what do you think?