Sharing an office is hard. Well, it was for me.
In some ways, it was harder than working in a communal area with others, surrounded by people. There, it’s expected- in the office, it’s forced. Something a little more intimate than stocking produce in a store full of people or sitting in a row of computers. There, you don’t have the expectation of privacy. Once I got my own space, I got used to it.
Though I (think I) am a notoriously private person, it wasn’t just the extra occupied seat in my office that terrified me when our branch manager decided that Ranya was going to be my shadow for several weeks. Or even the lingering line of thought that nagged at me: “Hey- you just finished YOUR training. What makes you think you can do this?”
Ranya is bright, enthusiastic, twitchy (good luck getting her to sit still for eight hours), and caring. She was cold all the time, and the presence of a heater in my office was something we would usually disagree on (and guess who won THAT argument). She’s getting married soon, worries about everyone around her, and would always have a story of something crazy that had happened to her on the weekend/night before. She’d ask me about mine, and I’d just say “it was good, thanks” and move on.
She’d fuss over her appearance, or how she did on something, or would laugh at something totally innocuous. I’d roll my eyes, but silently, I appreciated it- how else are we to know that we’re alive, if we don’t feel and experience things?
Though we’re opposites in a lot of ways (her fondness for Jersey Shore will perplex me forever), she’s a wonderful woman. Often times, in between new accounts and perpetually tweaking credit files, it was less about work, and more about life- in some ways, it was more fulfilling to offer life perspective, being a little (okay, about 8 years) older than she was.
But it worked both ways. It wasn’t just in my dispensing sagely, timeless wisdom (*cough*), or trying to encourage her, but in what she gave me as well. The way she always cared about how I was doing, beyond the wisecracking front I often put up at work. I’ve found that kind of real compassion a lot where I am. Having had the misfortune of sharing my office for eight hours, her enthusiasm helped keep me engaged, in times when I didn’t always have the drive to show her every little trick to doing what we do.
Looking back now, I can now see the wisdom of putting us together. Not just for her, but for me as well, in my own development. I’d just come out of the training, so I remembered all of it, and could help her through some of it. And she would help crystalize my newly formed good habits, in having to show them to her, and do things right.
And for what I had to learn… well, we’d learn together.
I joke about the returned heater, the relief at being free of my office-mate, and the lack of Jersey Shore conversations with her friends- okay, I’m not joking about being happy to not have to hear those- but I wish Ranya well as she goes to do the training, and gets her first job after that.
My office might be less crowded and more temperate, but my work will certainly be less fun. Once I absorb and appreciate my privacy, I’m going to miss that gal.