Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: JAM (02/09/17)
- TITLE: At the Water Cooler
By Adrienne Fetzer
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Pat stopped in her tracks, coffee cup in hand, listening to the voices of her coworkers, thankful to be hidden by the cubicle walls.
“I know! She’s got to be out of sick days! This has been going on for months!”
With a resigned sigh, she glanced down at her empty cup and turned around, retreating to her desk. Though on the job for six months now, she still felt like the new kid. It hadn’t taken her long to learn that certain women in the department spent the day doing more gossiping and complaining than working. After their first couple attempts to pull her into their negativity, she’d also learned to avoid them.
In the beginning she did her best to counter their attitudes by speaking positively and avoiding gossip, but it only made them more persistent. They seemed to thrive on making everyone as miserable as them.
She reached her cubicle, plopping into her chair and pushing the coffee cup back into its corner. The mid-afternoon slump would have to come and go without her usual pick-me-up. She stared at her computer, watching the bubbles of her screen saver bounce around, thinking that it would much more entertaining if they actually popped.
She didn’t hear anyone approach until a quiet voice asked, “Everything ok Pat? You look a little down.”
Pat swiveled in her chair to find Robin standing in her doorway, a concerned smile tugging at her lips.
“Oh, I’ll be fine. Just tired of all the grumbling at the water cooler,” Pat explained.
Robin’s smile grew, understanding exactly what Pat meant. The older girl nodded and rolled her eyes, saying, “Yeah, it gets a little annoying.”
Pat studied her co-worker, one of the few who never seemed bothered by the complaints and gossip, always happy and at peace no matter the situation. How did she do it? She’d worked here much longer than Pat. How did all the negativity not bother her?
“Can I ask you a question?" she asked impulsively, hoping Robin wouldn’t think her nosy.
The other girl tilted her head, her brow wrinkling in curiosity. “Sure. What is it?”
“How do you do it? How are you not affected by all of it?”
Robin took a breath, her lips quirking as she thought about her answer. “I wouldn’t say I’m not affected by it. I don’t like listening to it any more than you do. But after my first year or two here, I realized I needed to find a better way of coping or I’d go home hating my job every day. And really, I don’t hate my job. I just don’t like listening to the girls who do.” She held out her right wrist, pulling up the sleeve of her sweater. “I’ve learned to jam out.”
Pat stared at her, raising an eyebrow, having no clue what Robin meant. “You what?”
Robin pointed to her wrist where the letters J.A.M. had been tattooed. “I jam out.”
“You jam out,” Pat repeated slowly, still confused. “Like, to music?”
Robin shook her head, laughing. “No, not that kind of jam. It’s an acronym. It stands for Jesus and me.”
This time both eyebrows went up as Pat stared at Robin. Definitely not what she expected. “Um, ok. I don’t understand.”
Robin shrugged. “That’s okay. I’m a Christian. It reminds me of a Bible verse that tells me I need to do my work as if doing it for God. So on the days when the office gossip gets me down or the job feels overwhelming, I take the time to focus on that one detail. My day and my work are all given to the glory of God. So my actions and decisions and effort are made based off of what I want to do for Him, not how I feel at the moment. Makes the hard days a little easier.”
Pat didn’t know what to say. She wasn’t a Christian, but the concept intrigued her. This is one topic she wouldn’t mind learning more about, especially if it helped get her through the day. She glanced at her coffee cup again before asking, “Can you tell me more about it at the water cooler?”
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