[A story based on my work experience.]
I slumped in my chair and slammed the report on the desk.
‘What’s wrong?’ my colleague, Gerry* asked.
‘The boss’s not happy with the report and I have to do the formatting all over again.’
‘Glad it’s you and not me.’
‘Hmmm.’ I fished out the exercise book of computer commands from my pile of books on the desk and leafed through my handwritten notes on commands to do with formatting a document.
My colleague leaned back in his chair and slurped his fourth coffee for the day. ‘I don’t know how you do it. I don’t think I’ll ever get the hang on these computers.’
‘It’s the eighties, they’re not going away,’ I muttered.
‘They’re not user-friendly, you know.’ Another slurp.
‘I know! And the boss thinks I can wave my word-processing wand and poof! Formatting all done.’ I pressed the button on the tower, and then stood up. ‘Third time this week! Third time this week I’ve handed in the report and he throws it back at me. More work to do. I’m getting a coffee while the computer starts up.’
Gerry held out his cup. ‘You wouldn’t mind getting me another one, would you?’
I sighed. ‘Yeah, okay.’
By the time, I returned, the computer was just at the stage it was thinking about starting. Gerry blathered on the phone and the tech guy crouched over another computer, parts scattered over the floor of our office come passage.
Our manager opened the door and poked his head through. ‘How are you going with those changes?’ he asked me.
‘Getting onto it,’ I said and glanced at the screen still blank in contemplation.
My manager raised an eye-brow.
‘It’s starting up.’
‘We have a deadline, you realise. I want that report on my desk tonight.’
I turned to the computer. It had decided to have a day off, its blank screen smug, stared at me.
Late spring, not so warm, but beads of perspiration gathered on my forehead. I glanced around the small office area. Another workmate, Paul* tapped away on a live computer.
I approached him. ‘Would I be able to borrow your computer sometime today? I have to fix up my report and have it delivered to the boss.’
Paul shook his head. ‘I have a document that must be done asap.’ He turned to me. ‘Isn’t there another computer?’
I surveyed the scene of devastation behind me; the tech guy’s handiwork of a dismembered computer lay scattered on the rug. ‘No,’ then with desperation in my tone, ‘I have to finish my report today, but…The launch is in two weeks.’
‘I too, have a deadline. Tomorrow.’ Paul turned back to his computer and resumed tapping away on the keyboard.
Tech Guy entered the office holding his cup of tea in one hand and sandwich in the other. He stepped over the computer bits.
I looked at Tech Guy. ‘I need a computer. Mine’s not working.’
‘The boss’ll just have to wait,’ Tech Guy said.
I shuffled out of the office and to the café for lunch. Gerry lounged on a couch having an extended lunch.
‘Have to wait my turn for a computer,’ I told him.
He laughed. ‘Glad it’s you and not me.’
Back at the office, Tech Guy had my computer running. What is it with Tech Guys? They have this way with computers. I settled down to work when I heard sniffling from the PA’s office next door. I glanced at her. She wiped her eyes and hid her face from me.
I opened my mouth to ask what’s wrong.
Tech Guy zoomed up to me and whispered, ‘The boss’s decided he doesn’t trust computers and he’s asked her to type out your report on her electric typewriter.’
‘Yeah, just after I spent the whole morning fixing up computers. I got yours going.’
The PA fed the paper into the typewriter. She then covered her face, stood up and raced out of the office.
‘No,’ Tech Guy scratched the bald spot at the back of his head, ‘I’m going to talk to the boss. She can’t do all the work for you. It’s just not right.’ He strode into the manager’s office.
A few minutes later, Tech Guy emerged, thumbs up and a smile spread across his face. ‘I made him see sense. The job is yours again.’
Comforted by the fact that the PA had the load of my report lifted from her, but troubled that I must battle with the office computer, I gritted my teeth and spent the afternoon and into the evening tackling the formatting of my report.
When I handed my manager the report, he flicked through the pages and nodded. ‘Much better, well done,’ he said.
A week later I met with my Pastoral Care Worker. I’d been off work a week after succumbing to a virus.
‘Why did I have to go through all that? Why can’t things go smoothly?’ I asked him.
‘It’s the troubles,’ he said, ‘that refine and grow us. Like a pearl, the sand irritates it and eventually you get a beautiful pearl.’
Over the years, I’ve remembered those words of wisdom—the bosses that demand perfection, the prickly pears, the obnoxious computers that resist being user-friendly—all that irritates, has grown me, my faith and made me more the person God has created me to be.
And the “pearl”, one of my best memories after all those troubles in our office—the following week, a day before the launch of my report, unhampered by professional printers not able to print and collate the report for us, the team worked in unity and joy around the long table, collating and binding the report.
I recalled the passage from the book of James in the Bible.
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, when you face trials of many kinds, because you know that testing your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and not lacking in anything.” James 1:2-4
© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2016
Photo: Sunset at Seacliff Beach © Lee-Anne Marie Kling January 16, 2017
*Not their real name.