by M. Jespersen
Copyright 2016 M. Jespersen
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I’ve been having some trouble at work. Got end of term figures wrong. Not important, attendance totals, but students take them seriously, if they’re wrong think I haven’t been paying serious attention- and they’d have a point, a legitimate complaint. The problem was that when I found the error I thought it was minor and made some changes only to discover- too late- the extent of the discrepancies; but then I no longer had the original data for reference; I’d deleted it. I’ve messed up before but not this much. For the first time ever I had to conjure figures from thin air, fake the numbers, that is- I couldn’t put none at all. Some would be way off; there was no helping it. Some students would almost certainly spot the difference- they knew, at least roughly, how many times they’d come to class- and complain.
And with the semester over, I’d thought my work done, that I was finished with the courses and their entanglements, but I saw as I have so often in the past that at my job you’re never free; the work follows you, whether you’re physically on the job or away.
As if to rub this in, a colleague, Gerry, talked of wanting to meet me during the break between semesters. She’s a fine person- I like her okay- just not someone I want to give my precious time. She said that, after all, she thought she would end up going out on work-related ventures in the weeks we have to ourselves. She suggested as she had in the past that without the job to focus on she found herself at a loss for occupation, wished she were busier. What’s more, she seemed to regard this as a common problem. I cherish my private life. To escape Gerry’s proposal that we go together of an afternoon to some event or activity connected to what we do to earn a living, I volunteered that I’m a bit of a homebody, as if stating a fact of which I was not especially proud, perhaps slightly abashed, but which I accepted as a given, aspect of my character I hadn’t chosen and could not change. Unlike Gerry, I was content to stay home during my time off. In fact, felt trapped, panicked at the thought of having to cross paths, give my attention to that colleague. The job seemed all-consuming, to suck away space I need beyond it. I have to struggle for each moment to myself, with Akemi. There’s a door between my job and the rest of my life, one that’s hard to close- but, thankfully, not impossible. When I get a chance- and I do- I pull it all the way shut.