I have worked many, many jobs in my time: fast food, commercial real estate office, fishing boat, health food store, drug store, greenhouse, bookstore, laboratory, canvassing (in Buffalo in the winter), temp jobs, and the Hawaii legislature. For some reason, for a couple of days now, I have been thinking about the administrative assistant position that I held in Arlington Virginia. It was the first time I was in a role like that. I worked for Ralph who was an executive in this large family owned real estate company. They mostly dealt with commercial real estate. Ralph was a really nice guy. He was sort of pudgy with glasses. I have this vaguely 1970s remembrance of him; and he always wore a suit. I think that for Ralph, he was alternately amused and irritated by me. I had a hard time remembering anything. He would ask me for a file and I would just give him this perplexed look. He would then go on to describe the file, the circumstance, fishing for the clue that would prompt my memory. There was gossip around the office that he was having an affair with one of the realtors; her name was Roxanne. I never knew if it was true but I wanted it to not be.
One of the office stories that I knew about Ralph, which was true, was about the time he had almost died in his office. This kind of made me a bit nervous working for him sometimes. The time that Ralph almost died in his office, he had been in there alone with the door mostly shut. A woman, a large African American woman, from another department, knocked on his door and when he didn’t answer she went in. She found Ralph lying on the floor behind his desk. This woman administered CPR to Ralph and for all intents and purposes, saved his life. I always wondered how would you repay someone for that? How would your repay someone for knowing what to do and doing it? Someone, who you were not close to before; would you be close after? Would you have awkward meetings every time you ran into each other in the office? Would you meet together on purpose sometimes? The weird and scary thing was that according to the story, they never found out why Ralph had almost died on his floor in his office. This of course led me to believe that it could happen again at any time especially since I wasn’t up on my CPR.
I love that that woman just saved Ralph on the floor of his office. That she just did what she had to do; did it without thinking about it. I would like to think that Ralph would have done the same had their roles been reversed. Thing is, I’m not sure that he would have. Thinking about this makes me want to try to live more selflessly, do the right thing and not the easy thing; to run towards it and embrace it and not run the other way. I am already feeling nervous about the balancing act between work and home; I just hope that I will remember to do the right thing; and not the easy one.