Sunday, November 2, 2008

12 years ago

It was a dozen years ago. I was a father with young children and working at my first real professional job... and hating it. I loved the work, but it was with a pretty crappy administration. If you have ever worked good work for bad people you know exactly what I am talking about, if not... get a freakin job, you loser!

Anyway I was in a separate building from the main campus. This was great because we were not under the watchful eye or evil thumb of "the man." There three of us in that little building endured blazing heat in the summer and freezing cold in the winter. Two were mental health people that worked to put families back together. I dealt with every kid that got arrested in the County. I ran a six week "diversionary" course where the juvenile AND his/her parents were required to attend.

Everybody at that place disliked the administration. I met some amazing people who are still my close friends. I also met people I was cool if I never had to work with again... the kind that teach you how to NOT do a job. Again, if you don't know what I am talking about, get a FREAKIN job dude!

So one day this red headed chick blasts into our little sanctuary. She was a bundle of energy and in overdrive while complaining about feeling tired. She worked in a satellite office in a neighboring county. She stopped by on the pretense of dropping off paperwork, but in fact had just interviewed for a new job. I was told her name was Pam.

While bitching non-stop about feeling exhausted she came in and demanded coffee. The three of us natives exchanged blank looks as we were told by a person who DID NOT work in this building with us, that "Surely you have a way to make coffee! You have a kitchenette, you teach classes to adults out here, so I know you have coffee and a pot!" At that point she began looking through all of our cabinets and storage places til she came out with coffee, filters and Mr. Coffee Maker!

Then while harping on how exhausted she was, she cleaned the coffee pot, ran a pot of water through it to make sure the insides were clean and made her a pot of coffee by pouring grounds (unmeasured) into the old paper filter. Us natives just kind of kept working in our cubicles and only answered if directly asked. We worked close enough to mental health to recognize a crazy person when we saw one.

Every so often Becky, our resident LPC mental health specialist would ask open ended questions that allowed the manic episode to pass without causing too much damage to the surrounding furniture or residents. So it was at this point, doing what I was sure was feigned interest that ONLY a real counselor can fake, she asked, "What kind of a job did you apply for Pam?"

"I don't even know! It was the oddest interview. This Jewish man who looks like Jerry Garcia talked to me for, I swear, more than two hours... and he never said a work about the job. I think he liked me and he ended the interview with a bonus question about European History. All I know is it is with OSU."

Now my grandmother worked for OSU when she moved into Oklahoma from Nebraska. My mother went to work for OSU when I was a kid. Both retired from the college. Neither of them had college degrees but I was a fairly recent graduate and loved the academic world. So when I heard the words OSU, my fear and avoidance of raving lunatics vanished. I suddenly popped up and informed the fruitcake, "You know... I am an excellent teacher!"

That was a dozen years ago but I can still vividly recall the blazing red hair of the crazy woman in a green van full of political campaign posters. She was full of energy while bemoaning exhaustion and made a full pot of coffee with supplies we never knew we had, then complained it tasted awful and never finished her first cup. Within about 2 years I was working with her at OSU. "We are going to make a great team." She used to assure me.

Twelve years later, I think we still do make a pretty good team. Happy Birthday Pam.

No comments: