I am not the best at answering emails and text messages. I am not the worst, either. I do eventually answer them, or at least read them, but it can take days, even weeks, sometimes; everyone once in a while it takes me months to get on top of something usually because I missed it the first time around, when I was just skimming over a bunch of future junk and near spam.
So, it wasn’t until last Saturday October 1 that I read the email dated September 19 from the human resources department of my old job. Some books had been delivered to the mailroom and they were being held for me, I could come and get them from HR any time during business hours.
Ugh. I was so disgusted. Back to work! Why? And what books?
I checked Amazon. Nothing. I hadn’t ordered a book from them in months, not a physical one, at least; I kept finding deals on Kindle for free books, and I had downloaded dozens of them. Maybe someone in my family had sent them. My birthday was at the end of September, and I had mentioned books as something I would like to receive. Maybe someone had sent them to the university instead of my house; when I was in my old apartment, I had deliveries sent to the university because no one in the front office would sign for them, the way they do in decent, respectable establishments.
Then I thought of Thriftbooks. I have been buying books from that website for a couple of months after hearing people talk about it on YouTube for years. And, I was expecting books from them…which should have been delivered. one quick check and yes, it was Thriftbooks and I moved on to being disgusted with myself. How did I end up sending those books to the university? It was probably the fault of autofill and my own carelessness in not checking the address before I pressed “Buy”.
Ugh. I did not want to go back to work, and that is just how it felt on the bus on Tuesday. I felt something like dread. I couldn’t believe it. I don’t want to see anyone I knew, didn’t want to answer any questions about what I was doing now, how I was doing, if I had gotten a new job, why I was back at the university.
But I didn’t know how to time it so I didn’t have to be bothered, and I had to pick the books up during operating hours for human resources. I took a roundabout way to the campus, walking an extra half a mile or so, and crept, no, I snuck back onto the premises like a former student that still owed it money.
I slipped through the back door of the HR building praying I didn’t run into someone and get trapped in small talk and idle conversation for minutes. Why hadn’t I checked the delivery address?
Thankfully, I only saw two people I knew: Liz, whose husband retired the same time I did; and Lisa, wife of the former director of my department. We exchanged small talk, etc. that lasted not even thirty seconds.
And that was it.
And, I have never been more uncomfortable in my life. I have never wanted to get away so much, and never been so happy to do so.
Ugh. Memories. Old places and old faces.
Why can’t I get past my old haunts?
I thought I was over it, that I was past my old job, that I would never again return to the university unless it was as alumni, for some event (I can’t think of one), or just to see how much the old place has changed, and what remains of my time there, if any. But one thing after another keeps drawing me back, keeps making me – returning keys, picking up a retirement present. I am retired, but I can’t seem to escape the specter of having to return to work.
I may need to get a new job to fix that.