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The Third Estate
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Like Candy In A Dirty Wrapper

Wednesday, November 28, 2007
This morning my employer called me into his office. He was wearing a very serious expression, and as usual my guilty conscience convinced me that I was in trouble for something, although I couldn't imagine what. He asked me to close the door behind me, which only accentuated my nervousness, but I put on a glib, helpful demeanor to cover it up. He said that the wife of one of senior people at our office had just been diagnosed with a rare and very lethal form of cancer. I'd never met her, and didn't really know my co-worker very well, but it was shocking news nonetheless. My boss was very shaken by the news, in part because they're the same age. She's not really that much older than me, come to think of it.

Then I was told why I was one of the first people to hear the news: I was asked to take on the responsibilities of my co-worker. Now I was already expecting a promotion some time in the new year, but this elevation is considerably more substantial than I or my boss had in mind. I'm looking at a lot more money, very interesting work, and what looks to be an entire career before me - should I do the job properly.

I've spent the last year at this job maintaining a very low profile, doing only what was asked, because I didn't want to be taken advantage of or be distracted from my dissertation. But now I'm going to have real responsibilities and the financial status to go with it. I've never before been called upon to actually perform in a professional setting, to do more than the bare minimum, and to work without close supervision by someone else. Frankly it's a bit frightening.

What's also shocking is that for the first time in my life, I won't have to be so terrified about my financial future. I've been worried for so long about how I'm ever going to make my student loan payments that I can't imagine not feeling that pressing anxiety in my chest anymore. The only thing that's come close is concern over my dissertation, which is very close to being finished. The two central challenges of the last decade are just about solved, which seems to me to be bizarre and a little incredible.

So today was bittersweet. I'm elated at the promotion, full of sorrow for my co-worker's travails (more than I'd have expected - I'm not a particularly empathetic person), guilty that I'm benefiting from his misfortune, and bewildered at my change circumstance.

All and all a very strange day.
Posted by Arbitrista @ 8:46 PM
10 Comments:
  • Congratulations!

    By Blogger StyleyGeek, at 12:46 AM  
  • I'm sorry for your coworker. It is sad and terrible for him. I understand why you feel guilty, but don't let it stand in your way. Make the most of this, you deserve promotion, finanical stability and a challanging job (because we know you via your blog and you're really smart and if I did you're kind of work, I'd hope you were my coworker! Not Brazen though, she'd scare me in real life I think). Oh, now I ramble. What I ment to say was congratulations, I understand your sorrow but don't let it stop you making the most of this.

    By Blogger Propter Doc, at 12:55 AM  
  • Wow, what a day. I completely understand the overwhelmed part-- but your boss wouldn't have asked you if he didn't think you were up to it. What an exciting, exciting time for you! Congratulations.

    By Blogger Maggie, at 7:46 AM  
  • I agree with what the others said. It is truly said that this had to happen to your co-worker, but sadly, that is the way the world works.

    On the plus side, more $$$ is a great thing.

    By Blogger Seeking Solace, at 9:11 AM  
  • Wow, pretty mind-blowing. That's so awful about your coworker. But congrats on the promotion and the $$$ (and the close-to-completed diss, too)

    By Blogger Canada, at 10:11 AM  
  • Wow. It's too bad that your promotion came because of these sad circumstances -- but I agree that you have nothing to feel guilty for. And congratulations.

    By Blogger kermitthefrog, at 10:50 AM  
  • Good for you for getting a job you deserve. Like everyone else, I'm sorry it had to be under such circumstances, but congratulations on the promotion and the increased responsibility and financial security.

    By Blogger Repressed Librarian, at 4:24 PM  
  • Thanks everybody! I was sort of bummed out yesterday, but I spoke with my coworker and he seems happy that I'm there to help out. Poor guy.

    By Blogger Arbitrista, at 5:06 PM  
  • Ow, your head must be spinning. But you will learn much from this, and that is good. And it's good to know maybe you are growing on the empathy-front. I think it comes with age/experience for a lot of people. Good thoughts to you in your new endeavors, and good thoughts to co-worker and wife.

    By Blogger Ursa, at 7:00 PM  
  • Wow. That is rough. However, it's really fantastic that you got the promotion and more money. Congratulations!

    By Blogger comebacknikki, at 11:17 PM  
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