A Little Help From Friends
The tale of two unlikely coworkers during an unprecedented time and their accomplishments.
Of all the things I am sad about in life, I think the one that sticks out the most is that my mom never worked at home during the time that would become known as "The Time of Great Annoyance with Humans Always in Our Space".
Yes, you read that correctly.
Despite how annoying it was that mom and aunties never left, I still don't like the fact that mom eventually started leaving every day to go to work again. Cats are fickle creatures, okay? Deal with it.
Not only did mom leave but she would return smelling like a dirty cheater. She kept mentioning dogs, knowing I was not a fan, and saying that we needed something called 'money' in order for me to keep eating. It sounded like something she made up, honestly, but whatever. I digress.
When this Period of Annoyance began, it was fun at first. I like to keep an eye on mom and the aunties, you see, and they were always there. Seriously. They didn't even leave and come back with food like they often did. No other humans came to visit as was common practice before. None of that. All of this is to say that I had uninterrupted access to mom's lap and that was a-okay with me.
Until it wasn't.
You ever love something so much and you can't get enough until one day you're suddenly so sick of it that you can't stand the sight of it? Yeah, me neither, but I think this is probably similar to that. I liked having time to myself during the day, like having my naps quietly without being sung to or talked to constantly. Like, what does a girl have to do to get a little peace, right?
I decided to take matters into my own paws. My aunt had started "working from home" as she called it, which gave me an idea. I was smart, I was adorable, I was sometimes charming. I could be a successful worker too! When this thought entered my mind, I didn't hesitate to bring it to her attention right away. She had set up a small version of the shiny box they watched together every night while providing me with lap time out on the dining room table. Clearly this meant she was thinking what I was thinking. Why else would she set up right where I could see and provide the help she needed?
That didn't last long. Something about her being in the main space and therefore making mom and other auntie unable to leave their rooms during the day? It sounded weird to me but I had come to expect weirdness from these humans. Moving to her room seemed to work better anyway. I wasn't distracted from my new duties as her personal assistant (a title I earned rather than gave myself, thank you very much) I knew that since I had found my true calling in this role that I needed to do whatever I could to bring 110% everyday. My aunt needed a lot of help.
When they came back one night with something she had to build, doing her own manual labor like a heathen or something, she informed me that she would be working in her room now that she had a desk. Finally, a reprieve from having to split my attention between her and mom. Also, it gave me an excuse to skip out on something they called 'yoga'. I wasn't sure what the point was, other than the incredibly squishy mat they got for me to rest on, but it was something different. Laying around all day was apparently not something they enjoyed. Amateurs.
Things moved quickly then. I worked every day, diligently. Keeping things on track despite the distractions of everyone else being home too was a job I took on willingly. They kept saying everyone had to stick together, had to figure out something called a 'new normal' together. I didn't understand the need for normalcy personally. It hadn't mattered in the house before but to each their own. Working from home was my new calling, honestly. It was one of those things that I didn't know I was missing until I suddenly had it.
Purpose, glorious purpose. That's what I needed.
At first, it was just me taking on this task, which was fine by me. The humans were good but the other cats? No thank you. I didn't need them poking around, especially not after I'd just received my first performance review. Like a snake in the grass, my aunt surprised me with the review one day as I was just minding my own business as usual. She told me that I needed something called a PIP? Performance Improvement Plan my nub. How was I supposed to improve from perfection? It made no sense, so I read it over and over again hoping to find a clue.
Behaviors to work on include:
- Sitting in an appropriate spot on coworkers desks
- No biting after being told to stay in said appropriate spot
- No knocking down of coworkers medication when trying to leave appropriate spot
- No back talking after getting in trouble for biting
The last one I especially took exception to. I never back talked. I merely expressed my opinion. We were learning how to work together as a team so there were bound to be conflicts. She wasn't very good at listening herself, to tell the truth.
To make matters worse, my least favorite cat in the house had decided she wanted to work too. As if. Nothing compared to my dutiful presence, as proven by the PIP she received. Gizmo, ever loud and seemingly unaware of her surroundings, seemed to think that during work hours was when she needed breaks the most. She was never satisfied with the tasks I tried to assign her, yet didn't seem willing to leave us to do our jobs either. I understood all too well what humans must mean when they talked about coworkers. Finding a rhythm with the right people was something that couldn't be taught. Especially not when the student isn't even willing to learn. She just kept trying to distract me during the most inopportune times.
I personally didn't feel like we needed help but as the assistant my opinions were not always law. That was really the biggest learning curve of all. I had such great ideas, such vision. I knew that my aunt had the potential to go far, we just needed to push her there. She seemed to think this meant more help around the office, though thankfully Gizmo gave up the position on her own before we had to take matters into our own paws. It would be a long road to find someone who would push us in the right direction rather than someone who seemed to think work meant play.
Not just play, but bath time. Bath time! Right on our desk. In the middle of the day.
Luckily, she didn't last long in the work world.
Days turned into weeks which turned into months. The weather turned cold, making motivation for work scarce. Despite the lofty goals we had, I struggled to leave the warmth of mom's blankets each day. It was only the knowledge that my aunt needed me that got me out of bed during those months. White fell from the sky out the window whenever I had a moment to look but still I pushed on. My aunt said she was going to try for a promotion, something she seemed to want very badly.
It became my mission to help her with this dream.
Everyone she spoke to during meetings on her small shiny box knew me. They appreciated when I would insert myself into the meeting, offering both reprieve from dull work conversation and useful input on the problems at hand. Mom praised me for my dedication, fueling the spark in me even more. I stuck by her side, day in and day out, without asking for much. It was my job, after all. However, I was getting tired. Tired of always working, tired of carrying the load, tired of the dreary 9-5 days that often felt like Groundhog Day. Just tired.
How did humans do this all the time?
Then, the unthinkable happened. (No, I wasn't fired. Please.) My aunt decided to bring another cat into the office. Not just that, she brought him into the house. To stay. Forever. Right in the middle of us working for the big promotion. Right in the middle of us trying to navigate the chaos in the world.
To say I was in shock would be an understatement.
Who even was this guy? He had way too much energy to be considered for the prestigious title of assistant. He lacked focus, control, and a myriad of other basic career-oriented skills. Plus, he was basically a baby. Yet, he seemed to make my aunt happy which seemed to energize her towards our goal even more.
It also took some of the burden off of me, not that I'd admit that out loud.
With an extra set of paws, we were able to get more done. On the down side, his arrival came when the humans seemed to be going back to more normal activities and schedules. This meant that my aunt had to go into the office occasionally, something I could not do with her. I could only assume this was because my beautiful presence would have been too overwhelming for the other humans when actually faced with it in person.
This reduction in hours meant good things for our goals, however. She might not have need of her personal assistant quite as much but there were still days she worked from home. And with Sokka doing the menial tasks, it was only a matter of time. He was much better at taking direction than Gizmo had been, not to mention he seemed to listen to me. Okay, maybe it was more he followed me around annoyingly but semantics. If he was following me then he was getting work done.
Between you and me, I can admit I was starting to feel a little defeated. I'd been by auntie's side since this all started. I worked hard, I was always in the office with her, right up until she started leaving the house again. I wasn't sure if I'd been fired, if we were closer to our goal, or what was going on. The dark thoughts threatened to bury me, threatened my hard-earned confidence and work, but my mom reassured me one night that it was all going as planned. I was valued. I was helping. Auntie was going to succeed with me by her side and Sokka supporting us both.
Just when I was starting to give up, wondering how humans could put up with this kind of stress every day, my aunt came home with news.
SHE GOT THE PROMOTION!
Honestly. My relief was real. My joy insurmountable. I would have cried if I had been capable of it.
Once the goal had been achieved, I thought we were going to be able to relax. However, apparently you have to work harder when you get promoted. You have more tasks, more people than just one wayward child, to manage.
Basically, you work hard so you can start all over again in a new position.
Auntie named me employee of the month because obviously. I know you can see why too. Heck, you even probably understand my frustration. Aren't promotions supposed to make work easier?
Humans are strange creatures.
Turns out, working is not for me. Nor is it for the faint of heart. Still, I am glad for my time in the corporate world. It really taught me to appreciate the little things, the simple things.
The good life.