So earlier this week I had lunch with an old boss and it produced a humbling and interesting moment.
Here's the background to why she is an old boss.
In 2005 when I came home, I was looking for a job and came across a position in the public sector. I had the skill set to compete for the job and after being unemployed for close to six months, it was time for me to get back into the workforce, even if it was something completely different from what I spent five years studying at Howard. I was excited to take the job because it was a definite change from what I had just come from and I was inspired because I was going to be surrounded by people who looked a LOT like me. (Little did I know that working in an office with all black women would be more challenging than I could have ever imagined.) I was going to have a mentor, someone who could possibly help me get back on track after I had been knocked down. That wasn't exactly the case. The person that I was working for (at least it appeared to me) seemed to be a little intimated by me. (It surprises when people are intimidated by someone because of a piece a paper. The paper doesn't make the person, the experience makes the person.) Anyway, things between my old boss and I appeared to be going smoothly as things usually do during the honeymoon phase. I was encouraged and excited about my work as a public servant. That didn't last long. One of the challenges that I had to deal with with is not being properly trained in doing my job and not getting evaluations about my progress while I was on probation. Long story less long, I said and did somethings that I shouldn't have done and I was dismissed from my job. Three incidents within the span of a two week period will kind of do that. It appeared to me that the reaction of two of the events were powertrips. (I didn't want her job and had no intentions of trying to take it from her - I was not and am not that kind of person).
Anyway, I was dismissed from my job and was unemployed yet again. I maintained a great relationship with my immediate supervisor, who kept me in the loop about things going on in the office since my departure. Every now and again, as an act of maturity (or just an attempt to be like "ha ha bitch you can't keep me down"), I would stop by the office and say hello. I had good relationships with everyone in the office, and I wouldn't be hella disrespectful towards the person who dismissed me. One thing about my immediate supervisor, she was always saying that I was definitely needed back in the office because of the things and the skills that I brought to the office. She was my biggest fan and she hated to see me go. The two of them would have conversations regularly where she would say Camille needs to be back in the office.
Fast forward to earlier this year, the department head approached me about doing some contract work for the office. Apparently, there were some personnel problems in the department and one person wouldn't make it much longer. Damn, that sucks. Now one thing about this job, is that they pay was right! I was ballin' (especially compared to where I am now). There was consistent overtime which was a good thing. If there were two things that I missed about my old job, getting paid every other week and having my car note automatically deducted from my pay check. It was a beautiful thing. So anyway, shit's a little crazy in the office. That kinda sucks. So my biggest fan tells me that the department head is going to contact me about some work in the office. So she contacts me and I told her that we should sit down some time and discuss. I prayed about the situation and was looking for some guidance as to what do to. On one hand, there was no way that I was going to work for that chick in those circumstances and run the risk of being dismissed again. But the flip side is that, the money was great and I could do more. If there was ever a time for me to seek some guidance from the Lord this was that time. So after I didn't hear from her for a while, I just charged it to the game and just doing what I was supposed to be doing. I had gone into the office one day and she was like we still need to talk. I told her to just go ahead and call me when she had some time.
Now we're into last week. I get a phone call from my biggest fan, telling me that shit's hit the fan in the office and one person has been suspended indefinitely - creating two vacancies in the office. I get a phone call while I am in DC at my meeting on campus and a text message about talking about the work she wants done. I let her know that I am out of town and I will touch base with her when I get back to CA. So I send her a text message asking what her schedule was like and if she was about Tuesday to chat. We ended up having lunch at Kincaid's - her treat. Fancy. I got there shortly after 1 which is when I was supposed to be there and we hugged, chatted and looked at the menu. As we're getting into the meat and potatoes of the lunch, she spends HELLA time talking HELLA bad about the chick who was put on leave indefinitely. The whole time we're having lunch, she's just talking and I am taking it in. Now before I got to Kincaid's, I called my biggest fan and told her about what was getting ready to go down. She advised me to just listen to her and know that she's under hella stress. In addition to all that, I prayed which actually helped calm me before the meeting. So I'm at lunch listening to what she has to say and we get to the point that I really wanted to know about. There was a point where she just looked at me and told me that I was supposed to be right under her. She looked at me and said that to the present moment, she regretted having to dismiss me and it was the biggest mistake she ever made. Wow, really. I just smiled and nodded. She also said that I had put her in a tough position, we were at a stand still but because she was the boss - she had to win. But did you really win if you're back four years later asking for my help.
The whole thing was quite humbling, both for me and her. I'm sure it had to hurt her pride to say what she had to say. The humbling and interesting part for me was that I told my mom about the situation and the lunch and my mom took her side. At first I was hot! But then I thought about it, she was right. The rational side of me is responsible enough to admit that I was in the wrong, even though I disagree with the outcome. I don't agree but I understand. We'll see where this whole thing takes us. She has some contract work she wants me to do. I'll look at the scope and the deliverables (as well as the cost) and see what it's looking like. For now, I'll just look at things with humble eyes and keep an interesting perspective.