I was out to dinner with a friend the other night. She was recounting a story that had to do with vomit in the workplace — her vomit, her workplace. It was hysterical. It was also unexpectedly heartwarming.
It is not too often that a story involving a close friend vomiting in her office all over her boss (yeah, there was that, too) would simultaneously make me laugh until I cried (and, yes, I may have peed a little bit, too) and then cry actual tears, but it did. Trust me, it did.
Of course she was embarrassed, so embarrassed that she wondered if she could ever go back to work. Who could blame her? She worried that her boss, who had not only caught her vomit, but also caught her as she passed out, might not see her in the same light ever again.
Would she still be the competent assistant? Or was she now and forever more the woman who had thrown her guts up — and then proceeded to pass out — all over the place? Those “places”, by the way, included this dapper gentleman’s custom-made suit and expensive Italian shoes. Later on, because covering him in her vomit and then losing consciousness was not enough, she would also spray what was left of the contents of her stomach all over his luxury car. Oh. My. God.
The story took some humorous twists and turns, as a story involving vomit in the workplace and a luxury car often will. The finale, though, and this is where the tale took a heartwarming turn, is that my friend woke up in the hospital to find this kind gentleman, still wearing parts of the suit that had remnants of her breakfast (Greek yoghurt) and of her lunch (turkey on rye with coleslaw and Russian dressing, of all things!) stuck to it. Oh. My. God.
He stayed by her side not only because he was concerned for her health but also to assure her that she need not be embarrassed by the events of the late afternoon. He was there to let her know that he expected to see her, once she received a clean bill of health, back at her desk. He paid her for the day and for the days that she subsequently missed as a result of what was, luckily for her, a simple stomach virus — even though she had already used up her sick days for the year.
I quit my part-time job the very next morning. I had been thinking about doing it for several weeks. It was not a rash decision, but one made far easier after having heard my friend’s story.
After receiving word from the restaurant owner that my schedule was changing for the third time in as many months, I gave some hard thought as to whether or not I wanted to work for this person anymore — whether he was the type of person who would catch me (or, God forbid!, my vomit) should I be stricken and pass out on the job. I decided that he would not; that he did not value me like my friend’s boss valued her.
I am not saying that he would step over me on the way to the cash drawer, although I wouldn’t put it past him, but I could not picture him (or, outside of one person, anyone else there) waiting by my hospital bed to make sure that I was out of danger. The people at my other job, though, they would be there for me in my time of need — frankly, they have been there for me in many times of need. Fortunately none of those times involved vomit or losses of consciousness. Still, they have been supportive. There I am made to feel that I have value.
While I am not looking forward to the grueling physicality of the 40-hour work week that I must return to, which is the reality of life in a corporate restaurant, I know that I will be happier to be home. Workplaces that house the people that care about you are like home. Regardless of the hours, it is going to be awfully nice to, once again, be among people who care about me, among people who will catch me if I fall. I know who they are.