I was having a frazzled moment.
The business meeting that was suppose to start at 1pm was delayed, because a customer had come in at the last minute and two members of the team were urgently trying to prep the order for a pickup. Not even the invoice was ready, so I had to help them confirm that information as well.
I had been tasked to work on organizing the business flow by the Owner, and I was glad that a new Work Order / Invoice system was coming down the pipeline in the near future. It occurred to me that the issue I was helping them work through at the moment was just the type of thing that I was hired to nip in the bud.
It’s a small team, so two members made up half the crew; the third member was just plain late and had texted me a couple minutes after one to let me know what he was on his way. I couldn’t meet with just the Office Manager, that was pointless and a waste of breath.
Part of my irritation was that we were behind on implementing changes, and I felt super responsible, not only to prove myself to the Owner and provide results towards success, but also to take care of these people who hadn’t had the opportunity to be supported by a solid management system. There was potential in this little team of workers; they just needed leadership, and some TLC.
I had planned to cover quite a bit at this meaning, had scheduled an entire hour to get everything covered. And where normally I would have been able to just extend the meeting past the originally slated time, since school had started, I had a strict leave-the-office-at-2pm rule, so that I could pick up my kid. I was trying my best to balance the call of motherhood and my professional career – unfortunately, they are both tyrants when it comes to demanding for time; more time; all my time. Not an easy conflict to balance and still remain pleasant.
Who am I kidding? The real battle was keeping my sanity.
The customer care pickup transaction was still in progress; the third team member walked in with apologies; and the Office Manager was steeped in trying to review her email and get started with her typical task list. I decided to escape for a minute to regain Zen, before launching into this meeting full force. The management area was upstairs and there was a sub waiting for me; and my stomach was reminding me that it was indeed after 1pm and it would be in everyone’s best interest if I took a moment to satisfy my hunger.
The guys were already at the table: the Owner and the Senior Developer. They had left my sub at the space between them and I pulled out the chair and sat with a sigh. I said my thanks: first to the Owner for sponsoring my lunch, then to the Senior Developer for running out to pick it up and finally a quick thanks to my God for making it all come together in this moment of yummy-goodness.
I try to enjoy meals, not just inhale them in available moments offered within an over-paced schedule. I enjoy, too, having an opportunity to share meal times. There’s magic created when there’s food on the table and people around to share it.
Both of these guys were special to me. The Owner I’ve known since middle school and our shared ancient history gives us a personal understanding of each other that helps smooth over the professional stress of the day-to-day grind. The Senior Developer I’ve known for a couple of years: we tried dating for a few months, but came to an understanding that it would be best to bring that part of our relationship to an end. We maintain a close friendship that offers an immense comfort level, which also makes the workday a little easier to bear. They weren’t aware of the fact that I was irked more than usual, but they knew that I was in a rush. I felt their support and commiseration, although nothing was said at the table.
The sub was a foot long. I knew that I wasn’t going to have time for all of it. I cut one of the halves in half. I felt like I was committing to just enough to keep the belly-beast at bay, but not taking too much time so that, in turn, the crew downstairs would be waiting for me.
My subconscious is usually aware of the life-vibes around me (it comes in handy for employee management), but I was so distracted by the multiple ongoing actions around me, and thinking about the meeting to come downstairs that I didn’t catch on until he was already up out of his seat. The Senior Developer had been evaluating me, I realized; taking stock of my current existence. It is true that the experience of dating has made us aware of each other in a personal kind of way; and that it is exploited from time to time.
He walked over to the break room fridge. I heard the sounds of cans clanking together. I also saw that he had a drink already beside his sub wrapper with the signs of fresh condensation beading on the surface. My heart swelled. I heard him walking back towards the table and the crack-pop of a soda can opening. I saw him place a Diet Coke in front of me, just a little to the side of my sub wrapper. He sat down back in his place and picked up his sandwich as if nothing had been done.
That special kind of adrenaline reserved for being on the brink of happy tears without actually shedding any, flooded my body and sense of being.
It was a small gesture, probably without even a full 10 seconds of history to claim; but I felt, literally, like David had slain my Goliath, like that ten seconds lasted long enough to fill 6 months worth of emotion.
I looked up at him shyly and softly said. “Thank you.”
I sometimes wish we could turn on “subtext translators” for times when we can’t get the right words out.