We hired a new employee yesterday by the name of Ms. D. (Not to be confused with former weekend warrior Miss D, who is a completely different and unrelated soul. In fact, if I'd known we were going to hire Ms. D when I first wrote about Miss D, I would have given Miss D a different name entirely, like Miss Nightranger, or something. I might still. Miss Nightranger is too good a name not to use. But I digress...)
Ms. D has been a recent addition to our friends of the "liberry" (and I don't mean our actual Friends of the "Liberry," though she would have been welcome there too). Over the past couple of months, she has come in to help us with some reorganization, refinishing and assembly projects that otherwise might have required a man.
For instance, Ms. D was brought in to strip, sand and revarnish four of our wooden patron tables after our former board member, Mrs. Day, attempted to refinish three of them by herself. When Mrs. Day returned the tables to us they were a goopy, blotchy, uneven mess and I'd have expected better results from a septet of stumptail maquaques armed only with their own feces and a hammer. The funny thing is, while Ms. D's refinishing job left the tables looking smooth, even and fantastic, it caused Mrs. A to worry that Mrs. Day would catch sight of them and know we had had all her crappy refinishing refinished. I told Mrs. A not to worry about it. After all, Mrs. Day is so out-of-touch with reality that she would most likely take one look at the refinished tables and then congratulate herself on doing such a good job with them. In fact, she’d probably even audibly note how much better they looked than she remembered. And, of course, that is EXACTLY. WHAT. HAPPENED. Then, after her self-congratulatory speech, Mrs. Day hauled away the remaining "fourth" table to give it an even shittier refinish, on the grounds that it didn't look as good as the other three identically refinished tables. But I digress again...
I'd suspected that Mrs. A, was considering hiring Ms. D because during the short time we'd known her she just seemed to click with the rest of us so well. I'd wager she's a bit older than Mrs. B and a bit younger than Mrs. A, so she gets all the references they drop. She’s artistic, craft-oriented, handy and could probably read Walter the Farting Dog aloud to four-year-olds with the best of them. (Not that Mrs. A will actually let us read Walter during storyhour—but, if she ever does, I have dibs, dammit!) Ms. D also possesses something of an inner-geek, allowing her to be fascinated by all things Fortean and fantasy/science-fiction genrey, so she's not too far off of the path from me. In fact, she gave me a stack of old Bud Plant catalogs just full of great stuff I've never heard of before. She's one of the fold.
Still, while I was pretty sure Mrs. A wanted to hire Ms. D, I didn't think she could justify it with Ms. S still hanging on by a claw. This very thought occurred to me when Mrs. A announced to us that the hiring of Ms. D was a done deal.
"She'll start as soon as Ms. S leaves,” Mrs. A finished.
I nearly fell over.
"Whoa! Ms. S is leaving?"
"Yeah,” Mrs. A said. “You didn't know that?"
"Oh," Mrs. B said. "I forgot to tell you."
They then gleefully explained the details of the meeting between Mrs. A and Ms. S after the latter had secured her new job. (I’d only heard rumors of the details from Ms. S herself, at that point, when I'd asked her how her new job was going after noticing she looked particularly surly one afternoon. She'd explained much of the following, but left out the bit about having to leave.) Ms. S had approached Mrs. A and asked if we could work around her schedule at her new job, which normally let her off at 2:30 or so, but sometimes would require her to stay as late as 4:30, thus making any evening shift with us a mere two hours. Mrs. A, sensing a golden opportunity to get rid of Ms. S without actually firing her, explained that while we could accommodate some degree of flexibility, any other job she had would really need to be able to work with our schedule. We could put up with her new schedule, but only until the end of the month.
“Wow,” I said. “I thought that just meant she would hang on doing weekends only.”
Mrs. A seemed to consider this for a moment then shook her head. “No. I might do that, but this is too good an opportunity to pass up.”
That was yesterday.
Today was Ms. S's last day. She came in around 4p for her 4:30 to 7 closing shift. As much as I've railed against her, I found myself kind of sad over it. Even worse, I found myself more than a bit aprehensive about spending part of that final shift with her. Everyone else got to flee the building at 5, but I didn't leave until 6, giving me a good solid hour alone with her. This being the case, I left myself a huge stack of easy-readers to shelve, knowing she wouldn't want to do them. She didn't, so that whiled away a whole 10 minutes. The rest of the hour was spent chatting amiably enough in between helping patrons, shelving or otherwise doing our jobs. We didn't really talk about it being her last day, though she did ask if I was going to have to start working more weekends now. (I guess I might at that.) She also mentioned that she probably wouldn't come by as often, since the only reason she would have to come into the Tri-Metro area was to head to her other job at the fast food place.
Aw, hell, I thought. Now that she couldn't stay on here and at the school, she was going to have to keep the fast food gig as her second job. She hated that job.
None of this was my decision and still I felt awful about it. I had to keep reminding myself that with her finally gone, we'd at last be rid of an employee who recently locked herself out of the building while trying to empty the book return on a Saturday and had to rely on a patron with a cell phone to call Mrs. C and ask if she could come unlock the door and let her back in.
No, better still... we'd finally be shed of a co-worker who had gone onto the internet, learned the ending of the final Harry Potter book from a spoilers page and then willfully spoiled it for the first little girl who was lucky enough to find said book on our shelf on the VERY. DAY. IT. WAS. RELEASED. I know you don't believe that, but I tell you it happened! And granted, it's kind of a complicated ending to spoil, so she probably just told her whether or not Harry dies, or something. However, when the girl's father told me about it, some weeks later, I had no doubt he was telling the truth because Ms. S had tried to spoil the ending for me and a couple of patrons the night before the book was to be released and we only escaped hearing it from her then after I threatened and then rethreatened to stab her with a letter opener if she did. I digress, yet again...
And yet, even with those examples of dumbassity and evil in mind, I still felt awful.
At 6, I clocked out. I'd been dreading that moment because I didn't know exactly what I should say to Ms. S before leaving. It wasn't really a "We'll miss you!" or "I wish you didn't have to go," sort of moment, certainly. However, it was also not a "Have a nice life," or even a "Leave your keys on the desk... Oh, wait, sorry, you did that a couple weekends ago already," moment either.
Instead, it went like this:
ME— Well, I guess I'm headed out.
MS. S— Okay.
ME— (Smiles) You have fun teaching.
MS. S— Oh, I will. I will.
ME— (Considers giving her a goodbye hug, then decides against it) Thanks for putting up with me.
MS. S— No. Thank you for putting up with me. It took me a long time to learn all this.
(Super long pause)
At that point, some patrons thankfully entered the building and her attention was drawn away from the enormous awkward silence that was about to erupt and I was able to slip away like the coward I am.
I wish her well and hope she finds her niche in life. Goodbye, Ms. S.