Sunday, 19 September 2010

Ode To My Colleagues

Since November 2009, when my husband died, my colleagues have had to put up with quite a lot from me - or, rather, with quite little in terms of active contributions from my part.
The first few weeks, I went to work but was merely physically present and not really able to deal with much. Work was my personal therapy; it gave me a reason to get up in the morning and added structure to my days and weeks.
On top of that, of course I was absent for several days; first for the funeral service here in Germany, and two weeks later when I took the urn to England and we had a second funeral service there for the family and friends.

2010 started for me with a surplus of days off that I had not taken in 2009, making it an incredible total of 38 days to play with. And play I did!

I spent a long weekend (meaning not going to work on the Friday of that particular weekend) in Hamburg, another one in Aalen, then I went to Nice, later to Paris, after that I spent a whole week in the Provence for a family reunion, and in August I travelled to England again, adding another week off after that to work at a fair in Cologne (that work has nothing to do with my everyday job).
Only two weeks after coming back from the three week holiday, I had to go to hospital; I am still on the mend and I guess it'll be another three weeks altogether before I can return to the office.

And my colleagues as well as my bosses have been fabulous throughout.
There were no complaints, no "can't she pull herself together" comments from anyone, only sympathy and support, back in November last year or now when I learnt that I needed an operation.

Patrick is the one who has access to my emails at work, and therefore he has to deal with most of what my customers request. I know he has quite a lot to do without doing my stuff, but he does not complain and never leaves the office until he has done all the tasks.

Dieter's technical knowledge is vast, and I rely on him a lot when my customers ask in-depth technical questions (me simply lacking the background knowledge; I was originally trained as a Librarian assistant and had never had anything to do with the products I am selling now), so, when I am not there, he steps in to help whenever he can.

Goran is still new in our team, but he picks up the phone a lot and so helps to give the others time and space to do their stuff.

Jens is the man for delicate and challenging matters that sometimes arise in our relationship with a customer or in connection with a project. He was the one who originally employed me a bit more than 8 years ago, and I have learnt LOTS from him.

Nadine and Dorina deal with all our paper work; they process the orders and make sure backorders are shipped as soon as the goods arrive at our warehouse. They are both incredibly diligent and conscentious, and only leave when everything is done for the day. Apart from that, they are both very pretty young women and a pleasure to have as colleagues. Not to mention they feed me chocolate and biscuits when I get restless and hungry and have already eaten everything I brought, and there are still hours to go before I can have a proper meal.

Natalie works in purchasing (I am in sales), and I don't know anybody else who has such a beautiful and tidy handwriting (as opposed to mine, as you can see here). She is very reliable in dealing with all the stuff we put her way, and we are really lucky to have chosen her from the pool of applicants some years ago.

There are others - about 30 of us at the company - and although there are some I get along better with than others, they are all doing their job well, and it would be sad to see any of them go, for whatever reason. We do not always see eye to eye, and I would not want to spend my spare time with all of them, but that's not the point of having colleagues.

At the moment, I don't know yet when I will be able to go back to work, whether I'll need a second operation or not, but I am sure no matter what will happen next, I can count on my colleagues.


  1. Very nice! It's always nice when you have colleagues you can count on! Your post made stop and think about my own co-workers. There are days I could most definitely work alone, but of course I can't. Then there are days when we have the best of times. A friend of mine once said, (I work in an office of mostly women) "It's like we're all sisters. You will have days where you would rather she not be around, then there will be days that you are the best of friends. We all have those days". I couldn't have put it better. :) I also have had to take a lot of time off this year, but of course for different reasons. Having a child definitely changes a persons priorities!! I do hope your recovery is quick and painless!

  2. Wishing you a full recovery, and good health for the future!

  3. Thank you, Mel and Julie!
    Mel, I am glad our team is nicely mixed, age-wise as well as regarding the male/female ratio. When I still worked with mostly female colleagues at a different company, there was always so much scheming going on.

  4. How wonderful to ave supportive colleagues. When my son died (a long, long time ago now) my colleagues were supportive and took a lot of the work strain for a long time afterwards. (Special thanks to Ken!) I don't think I could have survived without.
    Hope you don't need a second op. and that your recovery is swift.
    (And thanks for all your regular comments - they are always so appropriate.)

  5. Scriptor, I am very sorry to hear that your son died, no matter how long ago.
    Still no news from the hospital; I've spoken to my doctor today and they don't have the report yet.
    As for my colleagues - Nadine sent me an email today, letting me know that Dieter, the most helpful person I know for miles around, and the one who knows an infinite number of jokes that can really crack you up, has to leave the company. His temporary contract of two years is running out in November and management has decided not to renew it, which in my opinion is the wrong decision - but there you go.