As a stay at home mum I look back at my working career and realise that, by comparison, I didn't have to work that hard at all.
When I was a Financial Controller or a Financial Director I sometimes worked 90 hour weeks. I sometimes worked twenty hour days, but mostly I had my evenings and weekends to myself.
I could go walking or shopping in my lunch hour. I was made cups of coffee and there was a lot of cake. Okay, there's still a lot of cake. Work was a laugh, I had many friends, I was mentally stimulated and I was 'important' and respected.
Whenever I become wistful for my old life at work, one face pops up to remind me that it wasn't always quite so wonderful - Tina*. Tina the grinning assassin. Tina the invincible. Tina the untouchable. Tina the terminator.
I was working at ABC Ltd, I loved working there. I managed the accounts department and all the women in the office (but that's another story)! I had been warned that my predecessors had all tried, and failed, to get rid of Tina. I was giving her the benefit of the doubt and treated her with same amount of respect as I treated everyone else.
It still makes me shudder when I think about it. I has gone down as an OMG did that really happen? moment in the history of ABC Ltd.
It was my secretary Jo's birthday. She had bought frozen cheesecakes into work and by elevenses time they were defrosted. She carefully divided the cheesecakes into equal portions and dished them out to the hungry masses.
So far, so good.
After lunch Tina asked if she could speak to me in private. I shut the door and we sat down.
'Jo gave me the smallest piece of cake', she said.
'Oh', I said, satisfied with the size of my slice, not sure what the fuss was about.
'She gave me the smallest piece and all the rubbish from the edge of the tin. She doesn't like me'.
Tina started to cry. I'm always sympathetic when people cry and usually join in. I handed her my the box of tissues and listened to her sob story. This took quite a while. She had a lot to tell me. Jo giving her the smallest piece of cake was the last straw. She didn't like telling tales, but they had driven her to it. She couldn't go back into the office. They would know she had been talking about them and it would all get worse.
After a good hour of this I left Tina with the tissues and went to see Jo. I had to ask her about the cake. She told me she had saved a large piece of cake for Tina and given her the extra bits from around the foil tray 'because I know what she's like', she said.
I went back in to Tina, who was still crying. I told her what Jo had said (well, some of it anyway). Tina called Jo a liar. There was a lot more crying from Tina. I was scratching my head.
Next, Jo rang me in tears so I went to see her. 'Tina always does this', she said. 'She's a nightmare. I can't work in the same office as her anymore'.
We were going round in circles.
I told Jo I'd deal with Tina - having heard both sides I was beginning to realise that Tina was playing me for a fool.
I said Tina could spend as long as she needed composing herself in my office. It was Friday afternoon, perhaps we should all calm down over the weekend. Things would look different on Monday morning.
It took Tina until 4:50pm to compose herself. This gave her enough time to turn her computer off and put her coat on ready to go home at 5pm. As soon as she was safely in the car park the whole office surrounded me. Some laughed, in fact one guy laughed until he cried, and the rest commiserated with me.
Apparently I'd had my first Tina 'episode'.
I couldn't believe I'd spent the afternoon listening to someone squeeze out crocodile tears to accompany a list of alleged slights as long as both my arms and legs. I needed a drink.
Cakegate, as it became known, was the first of a few Tina 'episodes' I had to endure. After cakegate came windowgate and ambulancegate. Don't ask.
Whenever I find it hard work managing two needy toddlers I remember Tina and I remember cakegate and I decide that paid work wasn't always a bed of roses!
*Names have been changed to protect the annoying.
This post was written for the Sleep is for the weak writing workshop. I chose prompt 3 - What are you guilty of viewing through rose-coloured spectacles?
For more reading material, the fabulous Emily O is hosting the Best of the British Mummy Bloggers Carnival on the theme of grandparents over at Babyrambles.