Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Back at work... feeling a little low about it

I came back to work yesterday, though many people took it as a "floater day". I was happy to ease into my work load on a quieter day. In case you didn't know, I also work at the University where I study.

Today though, I'm a little sad. But not because I'm back at work.

Unlike many people, I actually rather love my job. I work with great people, some brilliant minds and my job in language research is well suited to my skills and interests.

I'm sad mostly because I'm crawling out of a state of denial that I've been in for some months now. You see, our Director, N., is going on a six-month leave and will be living outside the country.

He's a fascinating person and by far, the best supervisor I've had in a job, ever. I watch how he works and closely observe how he strategizes and makes decisions. I have learned more from working with him in the past couple of years than I have from most people in my life.

I have asked him if he would mind leaving me his brain, pickled in a jar on my desk, so I can poke and prod it for advice on a daily basis. Alas, it turns out that he will be needing his brain during his leave, so I can't have it. (Luckily, we understand one another's slightly warped sense of humour...)

The fact that he has a daughter about my age (or so I would guess, from some of our conversations), has created an interesting dynamic between us. I often feel "taken under his wing", in a fatherly sort of way. And I look up to him... as both a mentor and a human being.

We have, in fact, joked about me being a young Jedi and he, Obi-Wan. (I'm not really so young, but the comparison still fits. :-)

I am well aware that this level of respect between superiors and subordinates rarely happens in a working situation. I won't say that I've been spoiled, because for the most part, I work hard and smart in my job. The mutual professional respect is, I believe it would be fair to say, very much earned... on both sides.

The Interim Director is a wonderful person, accomplished scholar and experienced administrator. In our dealings so far, we get along very well and I have every confidence that we'll have a good, solid working relationship... probably even an excellent one.

Nevertheless, I start this first day, when campus is abuzz with most staff and faculty duly stationed back in their jobs... I am a little bit sad... as I realize that in a few short days, my mentor of a few years will head off to what might as well be a galaxy far, far away.


zouzou said...

woo hoo! I'm first one in! It's sad to be out of touch with a true mentor. You're very lucky to have one, I can't say I have had the experience of the older fatherly male figure who has no ulterior motives and is worthy of respect. You say a six month leave - is this a sabbatical, meaning he'll be back? It's probably worse since you see him every day. People left behind have a much harder time than those leaving. Hang in there.

Sarah Elaine said...

Z. - Thanks... And as for "ulterior motives"... no... none of those. Just one of those rare truly "good souls" put in one's path to guide one along... sometimes gently, sometimes firmly, always wisely.

Turtle Guy said...

I remember working for a fellow once, who in my mind, was probably the best boss I'd ever had. Bruce was the kind of PERSON to just jump right in to help when the going got tough, or provide guidance when required. Likewise, he was sometimes gentle, sometimes even tough, and always wise. This made him the MANAGER above all managers. His human side is what kept most of us working for him. When he moved on, so did a number of the staff - simply because it just wasn't going to be the same work environment.

Having taken the opportunity to stay, I was blessed with the experience of working for his replacement. Bruce's good nature and strong work ethic were appreciated even more in his absence.

Meeting up with him years later, I discovered that because he moved on he was able to not only share his gifts, talent and humanity with others, it was also an opportunity for him to reap rewards he'd not ever seen.

I expect he, too, would have declined the proposal to leave his brain behind - even though full and sufficient refrigeration was at hand, as were many of the appropriate preservatives!

kt said...

oh, sarah, i'm sorry. i HATE movement in the workplace. i would get comfortable w/ my boss, then, 1 or 2x a yr, at The Co, they UP AND MOVE ALL THE MANAGERS AROUND! it always made me feel very uncomfortable. and sad. like i was losing a father figure. i mean when you work closely and they know so much about your life (cuz you have to ask for time off for THINGS)...then ya gotta START ALL OVER dadgummit!
ahhh don't get me started.
now my hubby is ONE of THOSE managers. 4 some reason he's avoided being moved around for over a year now! whassup? i digress...
sorry you are losing your close working friend for a time. maybe this will be a stretching time. can you keep in touch via email? i'm w/ zouzou: harder on those "LEFT BEHIND!" i always feel that way when a BELIEVER dies of an illness. i KNOW where he/she is...dancing in heaven! in the PRESENCE OF GOD! but those left behind are so lost...so sad...so empty w/o their loved one!
again, digressing. you know about loss. hopefully this won't be THAT sad!
whoa! we need a laugh here!
i wish i could think of an embarrassing moment to lighten the mood!
i listened to the GLEN BECK program this morning and almost drove off the road i was laughing so hard. too bad i can't re-do it here! they had a guest host who was telling his most embarrassing moment from junior high. 2Bshort: it included wearing a "dickie" (remember those? fake turtleneck) and being a 14 pound, transluscent nerdy boy, in P.E. class surrounded by SENIORS. undressing in the locker room, he got down to JUST that fake turtleneck...and he said all the oxygen was SUCKED outta the room...and a senior said, "what the HELL is that?" to which this little guy replied, "it's my DICKIE!" ....

and then immediately realized he was standing there nude except for the dickie...and he just told everyone IT WAS HIS DICKIE.....
true mortification doesn't begin to describe it.....

i hope i've done it justice..sorry to use up your space! love ya!
(i might try to put this in my blog)

Sarah Elaine said...

TG and KT - Thanks for sharing your stories.

KT, I was scarfing down some post-workout yogurt and fruit as I read your comment. I laughed so hard at your anecdote I just about choked on a blueberry... till it went flying across the room. Oh dear... You are funny, my dear!

robtherunner said...

I was sad to return to the University today as well. Only because it means no more sleeping in for me.

katt said...

I am with you when you say that it is a joy to work with people you respect and even like. I have had the best luck with all of my employeres, I can't recall a one I didn't like. I worked in a bookstore for 8 years, I can state possitively that the time i spent there was one of the best growing times of my life. The owner/boss is still a dear friend and I have not work for hime in ove 15 years. He taught me a great deal as well as challaged me, to know what i was talking about before I blathered on. There are people in our lifes that test us and chalange us to do better and be better. I would hope that there will alway be someone in my life that keeps me thinking, and striving to do more or better what ever the case may be.
May you always find joy in learning

madcapmum said...

I hate it when people leave. All the balances between the "survivors" get screwed up, and you make all these false starts towards where the person ought to be. I'm sorry to hear that.

I'll be getting your recommended book from the library, btw, and thanks for the tip!

Kim said...

How wonderful to have someone like that in your life Sarah... The world can be so devoid of those that inspire and effect us in ways that only serve to make us better too. I'm sure you will keep in touch with this mentor...

Bast said...

Always had male mentors - non-sexual, funny, male mentors. Then had one who I thought was the same kind, only to be rudely awakened to his ulterior motives. Sigh. Now I have a female mentor. Better.