Whirlwind Weekend.

I haven’t written in a while and there are good reasons for it.

The last few days have been sickeningly crazy. Let’s rewind…

By the middle of last week, I was feeling like shit. I had nothing in my life together. My project (my baby) of the last year was canceled, my relationship was a question mark, my dog was not responding to my training efforts and his anxiety was doubling my own, my family was [as always] dysfunction-ally disconnected, and I was all-around questioning what the fuck I am doing here.

But I came into work on Friday excited. For Friday was the day I would find out my new projects. Out with the old Project X and in with the new! Just like a good breakup, I was ready to jump onto the next thing that came along! (Hilarious, I know.)

I sit down at my desk in the wee hours of Friday (read: 8:30 a.m…I slept in) and Phil appears with a childlike grin slapped across his face.

“Hey!” He has way too much energy in the morning. I don’t care that his early-morning manufacturing background means that 8:30 a.m. is practically lunch time for him; he needs to recognize I am still sleeping.

I give a grunt but push out a smile. In the end I laugh and mock his enthusiastic greeting.

“Got a minute?” Who is he kidding? He’s my boss and the person I respect most here; I always have time for him.

“Sure!” This is it, I think. The moment of rebirth. I get to bury Project X, throw away all my mementos, and move on to bigger and better things! Although, I am not sure how I could be given anything much bigger than Project X: two million dollars and a butt load of press from vice presidents to plant managers to Rick Kerry! But I am still excited to see what’s ahead.

Phil and I make our way to the second floor conference room located pretty much exactly over my desk. This is my favorite conference room because it’s small and intimate, yet it’s stocked with nice equipment: a new projector, two white boards, large dark wood table with plush chairs. It’s also the room I completed my qualifications in my first year. You see, our machinery here is extremely complex and for a new hire to become quickly trained on it, they are forced to take “qualifications.” Essentially, the new hire is given 100-150 questions on each piece of equipment (the machines I work on have 11 pieces, therefore I took 11 qualifications) and the new hire must go out and find the answers to the questions, learn the reasoning, memorize some of it, and recite all answers to a “qualifier” from memory. The worst part is  the follow up questions. There are always questions asked that either make you feel like an idiot  or make you look like an asshole because you give the incorrect answer. All around, it’s a win-win.

But I had a great qualifier; 36 years with the company, he had no desire to haze me like other qualifiers did. He’s retired now, though, so the new hires now don’t have the opportunity to use him… which I find very unfortunate. My mind travels back to the many hours I spent in there with him when I realize that I need to come back to the present because Phil is talking and I am not listening.

“Oh, sorry. What did you say?” I realize I ask this question often.

“I was just checking how you are feeling?”

People keep asking me this. Multiple Tier Threes like Phil and a woman in headquarters that I also work for indirectly. Other people in the factory like to tilt their head to the side, push their eyebrows together and say “I’m sorry.” You would have thought my little anxious pup died for the way people ask me how I feel.

“Oh, I am fine.” I really am…now. I wasn’t last week. “I just want people to know that it wasn’t the team’s fault that it got canceled and I want the team to be rewarded too…” I trail off, thinking about Ken and wondering what he will do now that the project is cut.

“Of course.” Phil heard my concerns last week. None of this is new to him. After our little “pep talk”, he reminded me that I need not worry about being recognized for my work. But I am not only concerned about me here.

“Let me tell you a story…” Oh yes, Phil has lots of stories. This one doesn’t make much sense though:

When Phil worked at another of our factories down south he knew a genius electrician named Tom. Once, Tom spent thirty hours straight at work–no sleep, no rest. [This practice isn't allowed now, Phil reminds me, but back then who cared?] Tom was the best electrician in the factory yet he could not get one troublesome machine to start up! Everyone was frantic, but Tom’s boss told him, “Tom, go home to your family. Come back once you have rested.” Tom ran along but wasn’t gone more than eight hours when his need to fix the issue brought him back into the factory. A little rejuvenated, Tom went into the machine to do some more checks. After an hour or two, Tom found that the issue was merely a FUSE! [I know nothing about electrical engineering, so I interrupt Phil here to ask what that meant.]

“Well, it’s such a simple issue! It’s like you driving down the road with a flat tire not knowing why your car isn’t working. When you look at the flat, you feel like an idiot!”

Oh yes. I see. I mentally travel back to my qualifications again, thinking about Tom.

So Tom called his wife to say she better sell the car because we was sure as Hell going to get fired for missing this. He fixes the machine and his boss pulls him aside. Tom thinks this is the moment he will get the ax but instead his boss gives him a raise!

Um…okay. At this point I am pretty sure Phil is mentally insane. Respect him I do, but now I am wondering if he belongs in a room with padded walls…?

“So. What does this have to do with you?” Phil asks me. I have no idea.

Phil answers the question for me. “Tom didn’t get fired for missing that. It wasn’t really his fault. He did all he could. In the end, he was a great electrician. And his boss wanted to reward him.”

Wait…what is this piece of paper in front of Phil?

“So I want to reward you. You did a phenomenal job leading this project and you deserve this.”

I get a raise! What?! I am not even due for one until June! To top it off, a VERY significant raise!

I couldn’t stop smiling all of Friday. I told Sean about it. My sister flew in this weekend to see me and I told her all about it. I called my dad, knowing he’d be proud. I was so happy.

On top of that, Phil gave me a couple new cool projects to work on. I’ll be traveling a lot in February.

So that was Friday. I felt great that night as I met up with my older sister in New York City. Her company has her in a sales meeting this week in Connecticut, so I drove out to NYC to stay with her in a hotel that night. Then Saturday I planned to bring her back to my apartment and go out with my friends and show her the factory. But here’s what really happened.

My sister landed at LaGuardia Airport around 8:30 p.m. and we headed to our hotel. It was amazing. So beautiful: dark wood, cold tile floors and plush white fluffy beds. From our room we could see Times Square. Thank god her company paid for this room.

We headed to a cute Spanish restaurant down the street and had an appetizer, multiple glasses of wine, queso dip, exotic seafood dishes, and a lava cake dessert that I think was 99% melted chocolate. The meal was outrageously expensive and we fought over who got to pay but she used her Jedi mind tricks and won.

Watching TV, drinking more wine, looking at pictures on the computer and just catching up, we stayed up until three a.m. So much for getting up early the next day. But we were able to squeeze in some shopping before heading back to my apartment to get ready for dinner and a comedy show that night.

Lauren and Sean picked us up and we headed to the liquor store. Now the story gets real interesting…

I’m hauling back four bottles of wine into the car (my sister and I can drink…and we thought our group of nine would finish that amount at dinner), when I open the backseat car door. Sean turns to me and says, “Your phone was blowing up!”

He says this anytime I get a couple text messages. I assume it’s Morgan and the other five people we are meeting at the restaurant. Due to my indecision on what to wear, we are late.

But it’s not them.

It’s my college boyfriend–my college sweetheart. Ben.

The one, as they say, that got away.

I squeal. Sean turns around. Asks me what’s up. I say nothing, just an interesting message.

The background on Ben is crucial. I loved him an unbelievable amount. But I was an idiot in college. Hyped up on the drug that is anorexia, a lack of sleep, and a lot of alcohol, I mistreated Ben so much over the two years we were together. But he was always there for me. With a boyish smile, soccer sweatpants and a hoodie. He smelled like a cool shower…some sort of body wash. He loved me way more than I deserved. And when I broke his heart a third time, he moved on to a sweet, younger girl who I couldn’t hate no matter how much I wanted to. She didn’t want him to talk to me and he–being a caring boyfriend–obliged. On a very sad day in October 2010, Ben told me we could no longer talk. I cried in my room, hidden from my then-boyfriend’s view. It hurt so badly, but I am certain I put him through worse.

But now it’s 2013 and Ben is texting me. And my heart is racing. I text him frantically, all the words begging to fall out of my fingertips.

How is he? How is his sweet architect mother? How is his older sister? Did she marry her boyfriend? How about the fluffy dog his parents owned? How does he like living in Chicago? And, when I can’t take it anymore, what happened to his girlfriend?

But Ben is doing well and he updates me on everything including the falling out between the couple a month before. A month?? I could have been talking to him for a month???

He tells me if I am ever in Chicago or he is in New York, we have to meet up. My heart jumps around like a maraca. I would love to see him again, to hear his laugh, and to talk about our lives.

I text with Ben the entire night, a total of SEVEN hours. My sister and I find ourselves in the bathroom at the same time and I gush with this news. She is shocked and we are two high school girls in one bathroom whispering and laughing and I want to scream because I am very excited but also so, so scared.

It’s rude to do this while I am out with Sean. I love Sean. He and Ben are actually so similar. At the end of the night, as Sean is hugging me and saying goodnight and my sister is running upstairs to walk my dog, I tell Sean why I was on my phone all night. Sean looks confused, unsure. All he says is, “It’s cold out here. Let’s talk tomorrow.”

What? That’s all? Okay, whatever. I go upstairs to change into pajamas and think about everything.

But the night doesn’t end.

My poor sister slips on ice, breaks her ankle, and we are in the ER for an hour (Sean comes along) before we can go to sleep. I feel sorry for her that her visit has to end this way and I don’t like to see her in pain. I also feel terrible for texting Ben while I was out with Sean and my friends but I can’t say I wouldn’t do it over again.

Because of her ankle, my sister doesn’t get to see the factory but I get to spend some more time with her as we lounge around my apartment.

Sean and I discuss the situation with Ben after my sister leaves. Of course he’s uncomfortable with me talking to Ben but I can’t NOT talk to Ben. Ben holds such an important piece of my history and–truth be told–I wish I could see him right now.

Part of me wants to catch up with him and be in his life again–if only just as friends.

But part of me, deep down inside, wants to know if there’s still something there with the one that got away.

About factorymaid

I am a 20-something living in Rural, USA. As an engineer for a worldwide famous consumer products company, I manage million-dollar projects in a manufacturing environment. I like to write about what it's like to be a woman in a factory of men. But there's a lot more to me than my career. I have a very storied past. Check out my "About Me" section and my blog posts to find out more! Enjoy! :)

Posted on January 28, 2013, in Anorexia, Engineering, Family, Love, Manufacturing, Relationships, Sex, Travel, Uncategorized, Work and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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