Colorless Green Ideas Unintentionally Amusing In Person
Thursday, August 14, 2003
State of Mind
Mental health counselors always have a nice soothing voice that they use to encourage you to talk about your problems, and they’re always very kind and supportive. (Perhaps I’ve just been to good ones, or I’m not screwed up enough to get a more alarmed tone out of them, which, I would say is bully for me!)
We talked about the background on the situation, which is complicated and lengthy and rooted in my family, and T.H.’s family, and all kinds of old leftover things, so we just sort of did the general overview. She was soothing. She said things like “It’s good you communicate with your husband” and “It sounds like you’re on the right track”. I think she wondered why I felt the need to seek professional assistance. But I have been doing okay, and I was having a decent day, so she didn’t see any serious stuff today, and she (unfortunately) doesn’t have the massive family background that my previous therapist (who counseled T.H.’s entire family off and on for 10 years) had, who understood without a lot of explaining how hard it is for a person who feels responsible for everything to deal with those people, and how easily I get sucked into trying to run the show for that whole side of the family. And, realistically, I guess she doesn’t need all of it now, because it’s much less awful since T.H. went on Ritalin and we moved away from his mother and brother (I’m not nearly so freaked out by the “eh, something will turn up attitude” when it’s far away—I can let her screw up her own life, and not leap in and repair things). But still, I think my therapist will get to understand soon enough, and I think she’ll be helpful.
I still have difficulty with thinking unhelpful things like “I should be able to handle this on my own!”, but I just can’t do that all the time, and that’s okay. Look at me, breathing in and out, and saying “That’s too much to expect from me”. Ahhh, progress!
Today has, overall, not gone well. I am truly ticked at the HR folks at work, who will not allow me to take bereavement leave to attend the memorial of T.H.’s grandmother and deal with the official paperwork aftermath, because, apparently, my grandmother-in-law is not “immediate family”. So the need to support and comfort my spouse and mother-in-law is irrelevant. What’s worse, I could have lied, and, in fact did lie about it—but then I felt bad and got worried, and called back, so that I could have my request denied. And, even more ironic/horrible, I was approved for bereavement leave for my other grandmother-in-law, who died in March. The HR Director had the gall to tell me: “We never approve grandparents-in-law” (my response: “But you did. A couple of months ago.”) “I must not have known it was for an in-law” (response: “You did know. I very specifically told you.”) “Well, it must have been an oversight, and we can’t approve it now, because we just forced another employee to take vacation time, and it wouldn’t be fair”.
Arg! Teach me to try and be honest, I guess! Now I have to take sick leave and vacation to deal with this, and cram it all into a couple of days instead of having 3 extra paid days and a weekend to sort everything out.
I’m utterly furious, and miserable, and feel distinctly not valued as an employee, distinctly as though this is not a flexible, huggy-feely policy (although it is touted as this wonderful humanitarian benefit), and instead is designed to minimize the effect an employee’s family has on the company. Not immediate family?! My husband and his mother are upset! How much more immediate can you get?!
I protested, I argued, to no avail. The best I could do is say “Well, I accept your decision, but I really feel like this is an insufficiently flexible policy, and doesn’t validate employees’ family obligations”, which, of course, had no discernable effect (“Well, I’m sorry you feel that way”) and complain to my boss (who, to be fair, is being as cool & flexible as humanly possible for a boss to be), and that’s about it.
Why are companies so determined to nickel-and-dime employees on benefits? Why? Why? I realize that it costs employers money, but it’s been proven millions of times over that flexible and generous benefits create happy, productive, loyal employees, which reduces turnover and increases production, so companies actually save money in the long run. But, of course, no one cares about that. And (insult to injury) I work for a non-profit, whose compensation and benefits packages are not particularly good, and, therefore, they make a big song-and-dance about being a “nice place to work” and “flexible” when, in reality, they’re not really much any better than a for-profit place. And at a for-profit I’d probably make more money and have better benefits.
I’ll get over it, I’m sure—I don’t want to leave my job, and generally I really like it—but why? why?! is dealing with HR always such a nightmare?! And why are HR people always false blonde women who do such a horrible job of pretending to care?!
So, I am a total geek. Total, total. It’s more fun if you don’t deny your geek-ness. Hello, I am a (nearly 30-year-old! My 29th birthday is Friday!) geek, and I have spent waayy too much time lately playing Knights of the Old Republic on the X-box. But, oh! It’s so fun! And my character has all these great Force powers, and a light saber, and she’s way thinner than me, and can run across the sands of Tatooine forever, and never get out of breath, or sweaty, or smelly, and her hair always looks just right. And I love Force Wave. I wish I had that power, in real life. People would attack me, and I’d just raise my hand, and, woosh! the Force would swirl around me, and they’d fly back 30 feet, and lay on the ground, stunned. Ahhh. That would fix the people who try to cut in line, I bet.
But instead, I am only me, who needs to lose some weight, who needs to refinish the new dresser (which, by the way, will look really, really cool when I’m done with it. You just wait and see), who needs to get the wiring supplies so she can start making hanging lamps for our bedroom (these will also look really, really cool), who needs to go to the grocery store, who needs to dust the living room. No Force powers, just escapism. And while it’s true that I am completely wasting hours and hours of my life, and not doing anything except staring at the TV while a computer-generated chickadee runs around in there, it is really, really fun.
And, you know, fun has value, even if it’s stupid-fun.