In Search of the Champagne Life
by Jennifer Barnick
Even the Worst
To be frank this is my nightmare week: the newest issue of The Better Drink is due out this Saturday, January 15, and being that we are still an infant publication we do not have a whipper-snapper, busy team of workers putting the issue together. We have a handful of worn out, hardy individualists that find ways of functioning with only one engine working. Normally, during this time I find my temper is short and I find little humor in wisecracks, computer disasters, and writers (whose work is due) disappearing into thin air. However, something different happened this week that has wholly tempered my usual decay into super-bitchdom, and has made this hectic week more funny than anything.
On Monday my very best friend in the entire world underwent one of the most terrible of all experiences a pack animal can have, namely, the “I am going to single you out and hate you” experience. Bright and early upon my friend’s arrival at work a co-worker of her’s essentially cornered her and told her that she was an annoying, irritating person and that the mere presence (of my friend) was driving her crazy. My friend’s co-worker went on to say that out of all the people she did not like—could not stand—that my best friend was in fact the leader. When pressed (by my best friend and then later by a compassionate HR person) why she was so utterly offensive the hate-mongering co-worker had nothing more solid than “I don’t like you”, “you always get me in trouble” (which was never explained or founded on any one example), and “I don’t want to have to sit near you”.
As you can imagine my best friend, who has to be, by the way, one of the most sensitive, gentle, loving, and somewhat shy girls around was devastated. She called me shortly afterwards and was crying so tenderly and so sadly that I found it difficult not to round up a posse and teach that odious, bully of a co-worker a lesson. It was hard enough to hear that a very dear friend was being harassed, but for a friend such as this one…one so completely kind, well it was very hard to take. If it were to happen to me or some of my other more complicated friends I might raise an eyebrow or two and query whether or not my friend (or I) had it coming, however, with this friend no-way. After my friend called me, under my encouragement, for she was truly emotionally distraught, she talked to an HR slash counselor. The counselor managed to tape my friend’s wounded psyche back together somewhat and much to my surprise my tenderhearted friend managed to continue work.
To hear and see someone I care so dearly for so hurt—so hurt by some sociopath co-worker that has essentially picked out the one sweet rose to trample—was hard for me. I too am sensitive—very sensitive—by instead of crying I tend to lash out. In turn, bullies do not like to bother gals like me…I will defend myself…effectively. But my friend is different and even as I threw out revenges and comebacks for my gentle friend to utilize (some of my very best) she always (through tear-stained eyes) said “no”, and then would always say something like “I feel sorry for her”. I would of course sigh and wonder how my friend and I could be some completely close.
Needless to say it has been a very hard week for my dear friend for her bully appears to have stuck somewhat and continues to antagonize, and more than usual my friend has been at my side, in my kitchen, at my dining table, and spending the night. And all this was happening, has been happening, as I have been trying to put the enormous beast I lovingly refer to as The Magazine (The Better Drink—of course). And…and…and…the most amazing thing has been happening. I have been laughing—yes laughing—I haven’t had to walk round and round the block at two a.m. because my nerves had gotten the best of me—and in the face of an absolute fiasco I have found the oddest words come out of my mouth “it’s okay”. It’s okay? Strange words to come out of this mouth! But true, somehow seeing my friend so hurt and so vulnerable has caused me to soften and relax. It is not to say that the magazine became less important or that I did not work as hard or do as good a job as normal, but in the moments that things went wrong or not as I planned instead of getting upset I laughed because I could see so clearly that in the moment there was nothing I could do. Oddly though, after laughing about how wrong something went a solution would always surface. Normally, a solution would surface along with a great deal of anguish…and trust me it is profoundly more fun to undergo the latter not the former.
It is no mystery how my friend’s experience affected me so…compassion is a powerful force…with my love and worry for my friend being so much on the forefront of my mind this week I hardly had the energy or mental space to worry and obsess over much else including my career success. Yet, it was because of this mind-shift that I was actually able to relax and enjoy my hell week, and I hope create a magazine that I and everyone else involved can be proud of.
I am not going to claim that I have not been stressed or gliding around my house thinking nothing but love and peace (hardly), or that I haven’t truly wondered if I was actually capable of my job as editor. However, I will say that this has been one of the more lucid and smooth rides, and I can safely attribute much of it to my tender friend’s heartache (which by the way is not only evaporating but I sense a new strength in her since the incident…and somehow I can see that she has her own subtle way of revenge…kindness). And so I titled this piece Even the Worst…even the worst people or the worst events can turn out to be the best thing ever. I believe that folks…boy do I ever.
Have a great weekend! REMEMBER THE NEW ISSUE COMES OUT SATURDAY, JANUARY 15! See you on Monday. Take care.