Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Lydia

The first thing to notice about Lydia is that she looked lovely. She was in her late thirties and always wore nice outfits, usually a skirt and blouse, and sometimes even a blazer. She clearly combed her hair and put on a little make-up before she came in. She was not overweight. She sometimes smiled. In short, she didn’t quite fit in. Lydia held the same position I did and we were often thrown together on projects. I was desperately ambitious and approached every task as another potential knot in the rope I would climb out of there. Lydia liked to be busy too, so we got along great even though she was hard to talk to. Not because she wasn’t kind or friendly, it was that English was not her first language, so she often completely missed any kind of conversational nuance. The only time this really messed her up was when anyone was explaining anything new. Whether she understood the instructions or not, Lydia always said she did. I could never figure out if she genuinely believed she understood what was being asked of her, or if she just wasn’t willing to risk being the only one who didn’t. Whatever the case, the result was that occasionally Lydia did things wrong. And because she was actually a very enthusiastic worker, when she messed up it was sometimes on a fairly grand scale. Twice during the time I knew her, Lydia was taken into a conference room by a superior and spoken to. Shortly after, Lydia would cry quietly at her desk, and several of us would be assigned to redo some significant volume of Lydia’s work. It was all sort of painful and quiet. Now, people in this office, in general, did not like work. They were especially averse to work that had been assigned to someone else. As a result, Lydia did not have a very impressive desk display. This fact did not stop Lydia from contributing to everyone else’s desk displays. Occasionally she brought in small gifts for everyone in the department. Once it was little hair clips with butterflies on them. Many of the women in the office walked around with butterflies in their hair for a day. Another time, just before the 4th of July, she brought in little 4” by 6” American flags. I took that little flag with me to each of the seven different desks/stations I occupied during my time in that office. I actually still have it. It’s one of a very few things I kept.