Grist to the Mill

01 April, 2004


For the sake of giving balanced accounts and not complaining too often (this blog shouldn't be a forum for that), I'm recording my thoughts on a woman I worked alongside for a few days. She was 50, with two daughters - recent Cambridge grads - and a husband about to retire. She'd been made redundant from a grander job but was happy doing this one, knowing it was beneath her, as the pay was good and it was local. She was always smiling and reassuring (on one occasion, when I lost a call in the process of transferring it to the wrong person, "It doesn't matter, don't worry! If it's important they'll call back").

Doing these jobs with an enquiring mind, it's tempting to seek out ways of amusing myself. Yes, I know it's bad. I worked at this woman's computer for the three days (the computer she would have used if I weren't there). Every few hours, a "you've got mail" message arrived. Sometimes I clicked "no", I didn't want to read it, but sometimes opted to if it was quiet. Messages to/from her daughters and husband, with whom she'd been with for 25+ years, are now seared into my concsiousness. Here are some:

'Hi Love. I'm probably going to be late - struggling to get finished. See you later. Hubbs'
'Alright love. Take care and don't work too hard.
"Love, I see you are having next Monday off - have you any plans?"
"I have no plans - except to craft something nice for tea. It would be my pleasure to take you to Marlborough. Love, Hubbs"

Some of us (bitter? cynical?) would scoff at such a relationship and make fun of it, suggesting these are 'sad'/boring/etc people. Personally, I was charmed and impressed by this woman's kindness, intelligence and by the good relationships surrounding her.

There are cheerless people in steady relationships, and people who appear happy but who get nowhere in relationships. The thing is, an outsider can never tell what goes on within the 'unit' of a couple. I had a rare (prying) glimpse at the tone and spirit of communication between a long-term couple. How many 50-somethings can boast a marriage of decades' duration that is still filled with love? It's an anomaly. There's no real 'point' to this post - only that, in a small and unremarkable office, I stumbled upon a lovely woman who was extremely happy and kindhearted towards me. At risk of sounding melodramatic, she was inspiring.

| | |