Listen carefully, my dearest readers, and learn from my experiences. If you go to the supermarket in your husband's old t-shirt and without taking a shower before you leave, you will most likely run into someone you know and haven't seen for years. On the other 99% of your shopping trips and errand-running, when you are freshly showered and your hair is nicely arranged, you will only see nameless strangers. It's true, I tell you, and it happened to me just today.
We decided on the spur of the moment to run out to do some pre-weekend shopping. We had been out earlier but decided after we got home and ate dinner that we should have taken better advantage of some excellent sales we had seen. Not wanting to go out among the weekend shoppers, we jumped in the car and hit the road.
After perhaps ten minutes at our first stop, we were ready to purchase our items and head for our second stop. As I glanced at the person in front of us, who was ready to pay, I realized I knew her. "Do I know you? Jessica?" I asked. "Katrina?!" was her answer. Yes, this was someone I had last seen at least ten years ago when I was training customer service at a bank call center. Her face lit up as she recognized me. It really touched my heart to hear her say that she still talked about me all of the time, and that I had been her favorite trainer even though I had only been in her class for four days.
We spoke for a few minutes, and I found that she was still working for the bank, along with some of my other former trainees. I told her to feel free to say hello to those who were still there, especially one person that she mentioned by name. Without thinking, I also said that if she saw my former manager, she did not need to tell her that I said hello. I then apologized in case she and J were friends, and she quickly assured me that she never saw her, and that J was no longer in the training department.
I explained briefly that when I had gone on a leave of absence due to depression (along with PTSD and anxiety) and called J to tell her I was going on leave and why, her response had been, "Get over it!" Jessica was also surprised to find out that J had allowed a rumor to circulate that I was no longer at the bank because I was dying of cancer. In her mind, the lie that I was dying of cancer was more acceptable than the truth that I was so weak as to suffer from mental illness. She actually told me that she didn't let anyone know why I was on leave because it was too embarrassing. Never mind that all of the things I had survived through the years didn't bring me down until she heaped so much stress and work on me that I broke under the strain.
After this brief encounter with a wonderful person who was so kind as to honor me with such great praise, I was filled with a jumble of thoughts and emotions. As we got in the car, I told Trent that it just figured that I would run into someone I knew when I looked terrible! It was wonderful, though, to know that I had left positive feelings and memories behind in the people that had come through my training classes. I told Trent that it made me a bit sad, because I knew that when I had the time and opportunity to prepare for my classes, I knew that I had been a good trainer. When I was in the training room, I knew my stuff and I was in my element.
Trent said that he knew that I was a great trainer, and that he was really proud of me and my earlier manager, Linda, when there had been some silliness regarding him taking an advanced training class. Someone had gotten the idea that since he was married to me, I couldn't train him without being biased. They had him scheduled for the class but removed him from the roster when they found out that I was to be the trainer. Linda was furious. She told all of the training staff that she had spoken with an upper-level manager who questioned whether we could or should be in the class together. Linda assured the manager that she had no doubts about my integrity or Trent's, and that I would never give him preferential treatment. She announced to the trainers that until Trent went through the uptraining, I would be the only one to run these classes. If need be, she would announce that J was training and then change the training roster at the last minute. Trent was in the very next class.
I am glad for all of the time that I was able to help others through training them to do their jobs. It still bothers me that something that I loved so much proved to be my undoing. Toward the end of my time in the position, I was put into class after class with no time at all for preparation. One of my colleagues at another site told me in a telephone conversation that for every hour in the classroom, I should be allowed two hours of prep time. I was not allowed any prep time whatsoever. After spending four weeks of training eight hours a day, five days a week, I would start another class the next day. My body and brain were breaking down from the sheer stress and exhaustion. On top of that, there were some issues related to our other trainer, but that's another story. My husband was having some serious health issues as well. After surviving things like my mother's murder and years of physical and mental abuse, it was the job that finally broke me.
The trip down memory lane this evening obviously gave me mixed feelings. Although it made me remember some of the bad, overall the memories were good. I was able to hear that I had been a positive part of someone's life, and that made me remember the satisfaction of being able to do something I loved, and do it well. Even though it ended unhappily, there's nothing that can erase the great parts of my experience. Thanks to seeing Jessica today, I was able to realize that.