They say that you grow an inch when you face up to your boss for the very first time. As much as this may contribute to my maturity and growth, it somehow did nothing for my spirits that simply sank from having to defend vacation rights that not only were rightfully mine but also more than well deserved. Being the sentimental fool that I am, I always seem to expect people to be human beings along with being in higher positions. The fact that I already sacrificed my vacation rights three times for the good of the company simply does not compute to a manager that only understands numbers and doesn’t enter the words “consideration” or “recognition” in his system. I was dismissed with a another questionnaire that is meant to evaluate my work satisfaction. My vacation depends on my ability to lie… which is why although I’ve won the battle, I’ll probably end up loosing the war!
A week ago my manager asked me to fill out a different evaluation sheet on him. I couldn’t hide the smile that went from ear to ear when he informed of my task. Although he deserved a good wake up call, I was sincere and lenient and although he will never know who gave him which results I wondered what he would do with the knowledge that most of the people under him are unsatisfied with his performance. I didn’t give him the lowest scores… nor the highest and felt at ease with my conscience for being the as honest as possible. Feeling sorry for him when looking at some of the other really low scores, I decided that these kinds of evaluations couldn’t be held as extremely accurate. Not everyone agrees on the same points and I’ve always been of the opinion that although what is being done might not be the best option, sometimes it’s the best that the person can do and he\she should be commended and recognised for that. Having the opportunity to fill out such an evaluation did have a good effect on my attitude though. Besides getting to put my opinions on paper, on having to evaluate certain issues, I also had to admit to the really good qualities in my manager… qualities that I don’t always appreciate.
I did however feel like re-evaluating him when after working seven and half hours of my weekend, I only got halfway through the work I needed to get through! Extra hours that would never be paid for nor appreciated, I began considering reviewing my curriculum vitae one more time… Instead I stared at an empty office and thought about road that I had travelled that had gotten me there.
Ambition removes the ability to appreciate previous accomplishments.
Getting on the bus, I thanked God that it would only be taking me ten minutes to arrive home opposed to the hour or two that it would take in a big city like Lisbon or London. Once again, I felt pressured by my inner battle of wills. A part of me is perfectly capable of being content with all I have; another part feels the need to explore all my capacities, knowledge and experience to the limits. Is there really the satisfaction I seek at the other end of the rainbow? No amount of thinking and counter-weighing brings me concrete conclusions or confidence so I try and not worry about the things I leave up to God and Fate to resolve. This doesn’t mean I give up on them, this means that while I give and do my best, I put doubts like these out of my mind at moments which I can’t resolve them in any case.
The highway to journey of life also has refill stations, SOS-lines and pit stops along the way. Even when you know you’re far from your destination or in this case… resolve, a road sign can be equivalent to your peace of mind.
While trying to distract myself from my thoughts, I caught a pair of big brown eyes. They belonged to a very distinct face attached to a very attractive body. Taking measurements, I immediately calculated from the well-toned muscles that this stranger was no stranger to the gym. The fact that his hands weren’t calloused confirmed that six-pack that was well defined under his back t-shirt wasn’t from a construction job and the way he held himself told me that behind those eyes there was culture and education. Looking around the bus, I smiled as I realised that I wasn’t the only woman taking his measurements and looking back at him, I wondered how full of himself he really was. Men who are that much noticed, have a tendency to be arrogant and selfish so I searched his face and eyes for a hint of self-importance. I couldn’t tell if the confidence he radiated was arrogance but I did deduce from the deep look in his eyes that there was intelligence present, giving him the capacity of becoming a formidable man if he ever overcame the physical advantage (hence disadvantage) that he had. These days little boys rarely grow into full grown men and the more attractive they are, the less they seem to depend on their intelligence and capacities of thinking like a free individual.
Engrossed in my thoughts, I only realised I was staring when I was met with the same direct stare from across the bus. We would probably never see each other again so what did I care if he thought me rude for staring?! I dared to stare him deep in the eyes and waited to see which of us would look away first. It seemed like almost an eternity until he looked away but I decided not to look again, hence start another story for my column… I’d already won the staring contest, so I looked away outside the bus window until arriving at my stop.
Laughing as I got out the bus, I chided at myself for easily creating a new episodes to my soap opera life! Tired of the disappointments that usually came from these kinds of adventures, I commended myself on being to walk away from small temptations and put it out my mind as I sang on my way home. Halfway home the shopping bag with all the milk threatened to break my fingers, so I stopped to switch hands. I hadn’t noticed there was anyone behind me until I saw another hand grab the grocery bag next to me.
Great! I came all the way across the ocean to live in a safer environment to be robbed of my groceries! I turned around, ready to aim a kick in the lower region of my thief’s body when I recognised the eyes of being those that I’d stared at on the bus.
Wonderful! I’m being stalked by a hunk!
“Can I give you some help with these?”
Why not? You have a gorgeous guy offering to carry your heavy bags for you, why suffer? The worst that could happen is that he ran away with my milk and juice and I’d have to settle for toast and yoghurt in the morning instead.
“I’m sorry for being so direct, but I just have to know why you looked at me the way your did on the bus”
The accent gave it immediately away that he was no local and probably had very little time on the island. I thought twice about whether I should just shrug it off or be truthful to his question, normally men don’t understand my answers to these questions. However the directness and sharpness of his question told me that he was no meatball and the least I could do to thank him for carrying my groceries was repay him with the same honesty and straightforwardness.
“Well… other than rating you as you as a good looking guy, I decided that your eyes looked pretty sad to me and that your whole aura in general depicted a broken heart.”
The lack of a smile to my first observation told me that he wasn’t as full as himself as he probably should be, and my second statement was clearly extremely accurate from the way he closed his eyes as if I’d slapped him and then lowered his gaze to his feet.
He explained himself by telling me that he had only been on the island for five months and that it hadn’t been easy considering his mother had stayed behind. I heard all the explanations from the words that he didn’t say and my own heart reminded me of the pain of being away from the people I love.
After the usual introductory chatter, I discovered that he indeed did spend all his time in the gym as an instructor and that he worked two jobs to help maintain the apartment that he’d recently moved in to. Wishing my new neighbour brighter days and a good evening, I cut any conversation that would lead to any further socialising and practically ran into my apartment once again plagued by my earlier inner wars. Do I really want to go through all the hassle of immigration once again? When do I settle down? Why on earth do I keep meeting guys this way?
More than once I’ve been thanked for just being sincere and human… yet, staring at the sms from my new friend I wondered if he knew the good he did my spirits too. No one should live from the past, yet we need to look back to appreciate our present. Often I forget the strong woman that has brought me this far. Often, I forget my own value. Perhaps I need to give myself a fairer self-evaluation. Often I forget to appreciate the fruits of the efforts I’ve already put in. I’m still not sure of my future decisions but my present goals are to appreciate all that I have already conquered.