Friday, October 21, 2016

Another day off

Painful and Poignant

My family has taken to talking about my mom as if she is a computer program. "Today Grandma is offline," or "lots of buffering in the system today," or "definitely glitchy."

All three of those things are true today. Mom woke up this morning and started to get dressed for work. She has been retired for 10 years. She was convinced that she has taken a factory job and would be fired if she didn't go to work.

She did work in factory, briefly, after my parents divorced. It was a terrible job and she only worked there for 2 months before she took a job working at city hall. Also a terrible job, she stayed there 6 months, I think. In the period after my parents divorced, she was frantic about money. She was afraid she would lose her house if she couldn't make enough money, and she hadn't worked outside the home for 18 years. It was the 70's, and people were no more kind to stay at home mom's rejoining the workforce than they are now.

In 1979, she didn't have Linked In or Monster to help her find a job. She went to interviews and took any job that hired her. Most of them treated her as the desperate recently divorced woman she was--low pay. terrible hours, bullying bosses and catty office mates. I remember once she came home from her city hall job upset because she had overheard her co -workers talking about how the boss was interested in her and that's why she got hired.

Today, she is back in those days. Today, she is frantic about losing her job and losing her house. I told her she retired, and she got mad. She said "What are you talking about?" which is a phrase I have learned to watch out for--it means a huge upset is rolling in. I tried distraction. I asked her what kind of factory work she did--she stuttered to a halt for a minute because she doesn't know what kind of factory work she does. I kept talking. I told her I work in a factory too. I told her I work in a smootch factory and I had some samples for her. I grabbed her up and kissed her cheek and waltzed her around the kitchen.

Totally distracted! Yay!!

It worked for 20 minutes. She jumped up from the couch and said she had to go to work. I pulled her down next to me and said "no, today is a holiday"
She said "what day is it?' Very suspicious. I told her it was Leap Day, February 29.

"We only get one every four years, so the AFL CIO has worked with other unions to make it a holiday."

She said "you're kidding?"

I said "Nope, factory workers have the day off. You're supposed to spend today doing something you really love."

She said "Let's go on a picnic!"

I said "I would love to, but its raining and the kids still have school--the unions don't control the university system."

Mom said "yet, " and laughed. "I'm so relieved, I didn't want to go to work today."

"Lucky you," I said, "another day off."

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