Creative Nonfiction

Coworkers have tantrums too. Mindful escapes into the shelves of a library. Shelving books and stewing about words exchanged between disgruntled coworkers is just plain toxic. I worked with a girl like this for years. She blew hot and cold. I wanted her to like me for some strange reason. She sneers and it makes you wonder what upset her. She abruptly grabs the book cart and deliberately crashes into you. Her destination was always the library book shelves. A journey of mindfulness. Her mindful tantrum lasted for hours, shelving books, one by one, kneeling on the floor in a queer sort of gaze, like she was bonding with the pages of the books she was shelving. If we were lucky, she came back to the desk a bit calmer, but we all knew the "storm" wasn't far away.

Mindfulness is defined as doing any activity with acute awareness and doing it slowly and deliberately. You pour your whole body and soul into it for reasons of healing some kind of hurt or betrayal. Your mind shuts down and you go through the motions.

The three qualities of mindfulness are: the intention to cultivate awareness (and return to it again and again).

Attention to what is occurring in the present moment (simply observing thoughts, feelings and sensations, as they arise)

Attitude is non-judgmental, curious and kind.

I am not quite so sure that my former coworker was nonjudgmental, but she sure took off with the book cart every time she was mad at someone.

My library coworker is a bully. She puts a perpetual scowl on her face and does not like to help out at the circulation desk. She prefers hiding away in the stacks shelving, shelving, shelving. Like a dreamy kind of therapy, the books connect to her soul. She smiles at the books like they are friends. I suspect they are her only ones. She certainly is mean to the rest of us at the desk, but for some strange reason, the patrons adore her.

The only comparison I can make to my coworker's shelving yoga is possibly putting your hands in a sink full of dishes with soapy water and washing the dishes mindfully. One dish, one scrubby, cleaning the dishes slowly and deliberately with a weird sort of peace, letting the stress fall away from your own mind. Letting the days stress just float away, like a soap bubble. That is a good thing, I suppose, but there is always an interruption of this momentary bliss. The phone rings, a shout from another room, demanding your immediate attention. You want to shout back, "Leave me alone!"

You are never really alone. From the "interrupters" to your own mind talk, you mindfully and deliberately clean the dishes until they sparkle, but you feel sad that the job is done and you secretly want to do the dishes over and over again.

Mindfulness cuts out the outside world and encourages peace and harmony inside your own head. It turns off the noise and the bad feelings and attitudes thrown at you from the outside world.

Back at the library, this toxic coworker displays a trigger temper and screams at you for the slightest infraction. I am often pulled into the back office and accused of an imaginary "slight" I either said or did months ago. She points her finger into my chest and yells at me. It did not make any sense at all. I go to my supervisor but she does little or nothing. Switching departments at the library is no reprieve. She is like a ghost, floating around the stacks pulling movies and shelving books. Her mindfulness isn't really calming her down because she has an ax to grind with just about everybody. She is everyone's friend and nobody's friend. People talk about her and whisper but never confront her. She is not afraid to call them all out but there is a price to pay. The price is her wrath, leaving a trail of words that make a nun blush.

My coworker uses mindfulness and repetitive motions to escape people and her constant moodiness eases a bit by walking away from the rest of the staff at the circulation desk at the library. She might have calmed down, but I am left with a long line of patrons that want to check out their library materials. I would call for her and she is slow to respond. That makes me mad and stressed out. Soon enough, I am in need of mindfulness and calm. It is hard to find.

I don't see her anymore. I don't work there anymore and I am glad. The toxic environment and how the supervisor bent over backwards to accommodate this coworker's mood swings is unfair. The rest of the staff are victims of her mood swings. She throws jabs at everyone. She has serious mental problems and a bad attitude. She does not care who listens. She is angry and she lashes out at you for some imaginary crime you may or may not have committed. Working with her is gut wrenching. Not pleasant.

It is apparent this girl is getting away with acting like an adolescent and the management is enabling her behavior. I honestly feel the supervisors are scared of her too.

The mindfulness of putting away books make the supervisors glad that they do not have to put the books away themselves. Even supervisors are adolescent sometimes. It makes me think that the more despicable a person you are, the more the boss will like you. It's backwards attitude but it is true at the library. That's why I don't work there anymore and I don't miss it. She has up getting a big retirement party and a big send off. She called out often and acted like an arrogant jerk to me and everyone. Go figure.

Her mindfulness is being a real jerk over and over.

My mindfulness is having a long checkout line and saying, " Have a nice day!", over and over.

Mindfulness is focusing on the present moment and doing an activity over and over in a calm fashion. Trying to release stress and trying like hell to make the people that are jerks disappear from your visual space. At least that is true for me. Today is a lot calmer because I do not have to deal with idiots like that anymore. I don't miss the library and when I gaze at the library book shelves, a shiver runs up and down my spine.

With library coworkers like her, who needs enemies?

May 17, 2022 02:43

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