05 October 2006


I was going through an old box of writing in hopes of finding something for the new Cringe TV show that Sarah Brown is putting together. (No luck. All of the old letters were to me, not from me, and I had foolishly tossed out my angsty teen diaries when I was about 18. *Sniff*)

In one of my notebooks, I found a list called "50 Things I am proud of" that I had written about 7 years ago. It was a sweet list and it made me happy to see it and remember the things on it. "Being out of debt." Yes, that was a good one. Still is. "Saving all those trees by protesting PG&E." That was fun AND something to be proud of (they wanted to clear-cut a swath of ancient oaks 200 yards wide and 10 miles long and we stopped them via some loud and crazy protest activities, like dressing as trees and getting chased by a chain-saw-wielding madman through the street fair).

Sometimes it's good to remember the parts of our lives that are good, that AREN'T a mess. Humiliation is funny and makes for good blog posts, but a little pride is necessary for mental health.

Today I am proud of my part in making my workplace fun and peaceful. When I got hired over a year ago, everyone hated each other. No exaggeration. No one spoke much except to whisper rumors about each other. The tension was so thick that the air was curdled. No one hung out, joked, helped each other. It really sucked to go to work every day.

I was determined to change that. I made sure to keep on good terms with everyone. When we hired new people, I tried to make them comfortable and feel welcomed and clued in to what was going on.

I even wiped down their cubicle drawers, because when I moved in, mine were filled with cookie crumbs and hair and dust from the last occupant and that seemed so cold and uncaring to me - to let someone move into a filthy cubicle.

I let everyone know I was willing to help them however they needed it and that they could email me questions, no matter how basic, so they wouldn't have to ask them aloud and risk sounding stupid.

Yesterday when our co-worker was leaving on vacation, it hit me how much things had changed. We all crowded around him to wish him well. Then we went out to lunch together and laughed and joked and had a good time. There's no way those two simple, friendly things would have happened a year ago.

I didn't do it singlehandedly. Part of the change was that my one co-worker who was a focal point for all the Badness transferred to another department. My new co-workers are very congenial and fun.

But I did a lot of it. I knew it could change if someone had the will to bring people together.

I made the world a better place for 6 people 9 hours a day. It's a little thing, but for the 6 of us, it is a big thing. And for that, I am allowing myself a bit of pride.


wordgirl said...

And you should be proud.

meno said...

What a concept, to write a blog post about something you are proud of. What a good idea. Think i'll try it sometime.

And really, good for you, you made many people's lives more pleasant. Not much is more depressing than working with hostile unhappy folks. Yay.

super des said...

I'm proud of you. That's more than I ever did.

Piece of Work said...

Good for you! Working in hostile conditions sucks.

SUEB0B said...

Thank you all. I want to inspire people to write about what THEY are proud of doing...we have to give ourselves credit sometimes instead of just worrying and bitching.

mothergoosemouse said...

That's awesome. And it's so easy to do. At my office in New York, there were some real divisions between people on one side of the floor and people on the other side. It was stupid - I'd always thought it was stupid - and I always chatted up everyone regardless of what "side" they were on. It took a while, but eventually those fences came down, and it was a much better place for all of us.

leahpeah said...

i totally agree. telling ourselves, just like telling others, that we/they are doing a great job begets more greatness.
go, us!

Mignon said...

I tried this in my former high-stress, high-intensity workplace, but our group supervisor wasn't helpful and would never attend any of our group lunches or junk like that. Eventually half the group was laid off or pissed off, and I quit trying. He was toxic and made everyone angry and surly. I'm glad your toxic dude left.

Izzy said...

You should be proud. That's a very inspiring story.

Christy said...

Thank you for sharing this. I want you to think about the impact that you have on others. It is kind of like water rippling after you throw a rock in. You worked hard to create an affirming work environment. 6 of your colleagues are now happier people. So are their spouses, kids, housekeepers, nannies, neighbors, etc. And the rippling continues. Never underestimate the power of a woman with a mission.

gandhi rules said...

I know you, this is your way. I'm glad you have pride in it.

Suzanne said...

Why don't I work with you? (Actually, my former co-workers emind me of you. It was management that sucked. Sigh.)

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