Friday, November 15, 2013

An Awful Ending to an Awful Week

Sometimes things can get worse than bad. They can become awful. That is how the ending of this week turned out to be.

Not that earlier in the week things were all that much better. Matters actually began their downturn on Wednesday. That was the day that my deputy, who had called in sick the day before, wrote me an enote, saying that he was being admitted to the hospital for emergency surgery for a staph infection that had proved resistant to antibiotics. I sent flowers; we all sent prayers. The surgery took place Thursday morning. All went well, and my deputy will be home tomorrow. Thank God!

Later that day, the senior manager of one of my subdivisions appeared in my office to relate that her deputy had just been admitted to the hospital with unexplained internal bleeding. No cause has been found yet, and he remains in the hospital. Fortunately, doctors are more puzzled than worried. Dr. House, where are you? No flowers this time; this employee is allergic to them, and we would not want to make a bad situation worse. Prayers, though, continue to be sent. Help, Lord, we need you!

Also on Wednesday, one of our employees, let's call her Jackie, checked into the hospital for routine knee surgery. Today, one of Jackie's colleagues rushed into my office, crying. It turns out that after the surgery, Jackie had stood up and fallen down. She had instantly gone into a coma. A quick medical check showed that her lungs had filled with blood and no blood was circulating into her brain. She is currently packed in ice, with a temperature maintained at 34 degrees, trying to preserve her brain. Last night, doctors had given her two hours to live, but she held on. Now the doctors are saying that after 24 hours they will stop heroic measures because her brain will be past the point of being able to function again. The subdivision is in shock. So is our entire division. How can someone be a vibrant colleague one day and potentially a vegetable, or worse, the next? Ironically, Tuesday afternoon the entire subdivision, minus one colleague, Y, whom the others do not like, had asked for a sensing session with me. It was clear that they were ganging up on Y (there is an ethnic difference between them, as well as a difference in raw talent). Their arguments revealed racism and jealousy. Two people led the attack; one of them was Jackie. Two people went along with the attack but clearly had no evidence to support their contentions and were being egged on to trump up complaints by Jackie and her co-leader. Two others sat quietly, obviously uncomfortable, but unwilling to speak up in defense of the attacked colleague. They avoided answering my direct questions. That department has been ravished by clique behavior and backbiting. This was just the latest example. Y learned about the meeting (perhaps they wanted him to learn about it in order to needle him) and came to see me the next morning, demanding his own day in court. It took a long conversation, but I ultimately convinced him that his best course of action would be to forgive them, forget about what happened, and focus on continuing his excellent work. That was Thursday. Friday everything changed. Jackie was in a coma, the department was in shock, and everyone needed each other. Jackie's co-leader in the Tuesday attack brought me the first update; Y brought me the second and last update and request for prayers, telling me that they were all praying for Jackie. At least, some good has come from the bad. It is not the right time to send flowers to Jackie, but we (the management and the reconciled colleagues) are sending prayers. Help, help, Lord! We really need you on this one!

Could anything more happen to contribute to a general feeling of unease and unhappiness? Oh, sure! Right after all the medical discussions were over, a senior manager who was on vacation showed up. He was picking up a gift I had for his daughter, whose wedding I missed this past weekend. I had not meant to miss it. In fact, it was held in one of the most beautiful places in our area, with the reception at one of the most exclusive clubs. Donnie and I were looking forward to it for two months, and then suddenly we were looking back on it, having missed it. I had accidentally left my calendar book at the office. How we both managed to forget an event we had looked forward to is mystifying. I am now becoming concerned about the possibility of early Alzheimer's. The only possible explanation was the need to attend a funeral that weekend and having to rearrange other plans to make that happen. The senior manager was disappointed -- he sent me an enote the following day. He had forgiven me, however, by the time he arrived this morning to pick up the gift to take to his daughter and brought the remainder of the wedding cake for Donnie and me. Ouch! That hurt.

And, oh, yes, all those things were not enough obviously because Thursday we had two false fire alarms caused by power failures, and off and on throughout the afternoon the Internet went down, most annoyingly exactly at the time that I had to brief some high muckety-mucks from Washington on our innovative use of Internet-based technologies. That required some finessing, but we made it past that awkward moment intact. Today, however, the Internet was still down. All day.

By early afternoon, too much was simply too much. People were anxious from bad news. People were bored from the inability to complete their work, given the nonfunctional Internet. People were depressed from the gray rain that filled our atrium instead of the usual sunshine. Oh, right, I forgot to mention: it rained today, rather an odd thing to happen in the summer in California. Indeed, too much is sometimes just too much, especially on a dreary Friday afternoon. So, I sent everyone home. (At least, that made quite a few people happy.)

I stayed late, finishing what I could without a computer. Then I headed home, hoping for some brightness at the end of the day. Donnie suggested watching television, something I don't do often. The interesting show we thought would brighten our day, however, turned out to have a sad ending. Bummer!

Sometimes you just have to leave your entire world in God's hands.

(Photo montage by Code Scythe)

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