Thursday, November 15, 2007

The Church Lady Snaps

This is without doubt the busiest week of the year at my job. Compare it to the week of April 15 for accountants. To survive this week I have to do a lot of pre-planning, time management and multi-tasking. My biggest headaches come from outside sources: mainly procrastinators and people who expect me to drop everything and get their last-minute requests done.

I am not proud of the fact that I made someone cry yesterday. This is a person who makes tons of demands on me and is always expecting me to fulfill her last-minute requests throughout the year. But yesterday she hit me on the absolute wrong day, and I snapped at her. I didn't even explode on her like I really wanted to, but my obvious aggravation and displeasure was enough to send her over the edge (and let's be frank here: this is a woman who is always teetering on that precipice from all the drama in her life).

Of course when she starts crying I feel awful, although I was kind of confused as she starting gushing about some relative who's dying and doesn't want anyone to know. This made me think that the tears really weren't about me, but then she came back a few minutes later and tried to give me a $20 bill for my "trouble." This started the whole discussion of me not wanting her money, that I just need things in a timely manner, not two hours after I've completed the project she wants to contribute to. I reminded her that I put reminders in the bulletin about this for the past month, and I can only wait so long. But then she was martyring herself all over the place and offering to stay and help me. At that point all I wanted was for her to get out of my office so I could do my work without her tearful theatrics disrupting me.

Then there's this other woman who drives me absolutely crazy. She is the queen of procrastination who feels it's perfectly fine to call me at the last minute -- often at home -- with all her requests. Even though she works at a place full of computers and e-mail, most of her requests are handwritten and left for me on the piano bench in the basement of the church, so I have to go hunting for them. Worst of all, she leads me through her directions like a dim-witted five year-old and often forces me to read back her stuff when she dictates it to me over the phone.

I've slowly been trying to correct this situation with this woman. Two weeks ago she called my house at 9:30 p.m. -- the night before I print the Sunday bulletin -- to dictate an announcement she wanted in there.

"Do you have a pencil handy?" she asked me.

"Um, no," I replied curtly, "I'm in bed."

Boy did she stutter around! I told her to call me in the morning (wishing it would be at the office), but instead she called me at 7:30 a.m. while I was trying to get Mabel ready for school. I of course had to write down her announcement and read it back to her. Oh, and by the way, she needed a bunch of copies made for her Sunday School classes, too.

So this morning she calls me at home again at 7:30 in the morning, asking me to go find her papers in the church basement and make all these copies for her for this Sunday. The same week I've got the newsletter and annual meeting and envelope distribution and poinsettia orders and everything else.

I wanted to unleash holy terror down upon her, but the image of the other lady crying in my office kept me from verbally ripping her head off. I told her I would try to honor her request, but it was awfully last-minute and it's an extremely busy day, not to mention week. She him-hawed around and said if I couldn't do it all, if I could at least do make copies of the one sheet. I told her I would do my best, but that I'd appreciate it if in the future she would get things to me earlier.

I so wanted to tell her to take her copies and shove them up her butt. But what kind of a church lady would I be? I'm supposed to be gracious and helpful and take care of people. But where's the line when you become someone who gets taken advantage of and becomes a doormat?
It's no wonder I've been doing some stress-eating the past couple days. Not a binge, but nervous, mindless eating. I'm incorporating other options to reduce my stress -- yesterday was my appointment with my therapist, I'm exercising in the mornings, I'm trying to read a good book and start my Christmas counted cross stitch projects. But let's face it, it's hard to fight those urges to eat some cookies or some chocolate to soothe myself. But I'm trying.
Today's crunch day, and fortunately things are coming together well. But my personal life is equally jam-packed right now, and this afternoon I have to try to cram in as many errands as possible, especially since the weather man is calling for several inches of snow tonight. Often our road crews aren't prepared for our first major snow, and I'd like to be able to avoid as much traveling as possible tomorrow.
I have to admit the thought of being snowbound in my house for a day sounds nice. Of course, I'll have to disconnect the phone so no one can bother me with their demands. I can just sit back, read my book, do some stitching, and rediscover some relaxation.


Lori said...

I'm sorry you've had a rough week but maybe this week might be better. Then again, it is T'giving with close proximity to family which could be a good thing or a bad thing. Hang in there.

I wouldn't feel bad about making someone cry. She sounds like a manipulative soul much like Marie Barone on Everyone Loves Raymond. And you handled the 9:30 p.m. call perfectly (and it makes me wonder what she does to your minister!). Next time she calls you at 7:30 a.m., remind her that it had better be about an immediate DEATH in the congregation to warrant a 7:30 a.m. call. JEEZ!

Vickie said...

I hope you have a great day of rest (hopefully) sometime later this week of holiday.