The last weeks of December 2002
Shortly after I completed The Turning Point, my work manager was in town (he was based interstate). He scheduled one-on-one meetings with myself and my colleagues to discuss the year past, and invited us to not hold anything back.
As I mentioned in Part 1, 2002 had been a difficult work year partly because I thought our manager had been hostile towards us.
I had gotten this feeling at our very first meeting with him, when his manner had been abrupt and he told us that based on figures he had consulted our team was overstaffed.
He was correct – but because our previous employer, who had outsourced us a year ago, had overstaffed us in preparation for emergencies. At times work was slow but other times it would suddenly get very busy for all of us, and we had found that during our first year at our new employer that general situation had remained the same.
To which our new manager responded by slamming his fist into his other hand and crying, “That’s not gonna happen!”
I was very taken aback by that – not only because it was aggressive and over-the-top, but also because it was yet more rude treatment from our new employer. During the previous year, another team had made a lot of noise about taking us on board until they suddenly stopped talking to us with no explanation, and for a six-month period we were basically ignored by not having a manager at all.
And now this!
So from the start I disliked our new manager, and as 2002 wore on there were further examples where he treated us more like nuisances rather than employees.
Thus, when it came time for our one-on-one, I decided to take my manager at his word to not hold anything back.
As we sat in that meeting room on that Friday afternoon in northern Sydney, I wasn’t angry or belligerent but I politely yet honestly told him how I had felt about him.
He listened, and was genuinely stunned – especially when I replayed the “That’s not gonna happen!” incident, which he had forgotten about.
He expressed regret that he’d come across to us in such a negative way, appreciated what I’d told him and resolved to treat us better (and to his credit, from that day on he would).
I came out of that meeting feeling much better about the future, and especially myself.
Thanks to The Turning Point, I had encouraged myself to be forthright and proactive about a difficult situation.
And it had worked.
A week or so later, I flew interstate myself for my annual Christmas holiday with family members.
After I boarded my ‘plane, got myself seated and waited for take-off, I meditated as best as I could to relax and pass the time. That also worked.
A few days later, I told my eldest sister about having done The Turning Point. She was supportive and said that, indeed, I seemed more calm and less tense overall.
January 2003 to 13 June 2003
2003 saw some improvement in my life.
There was still some tension at work, but I also became involved in a project that kept me in steady work for nine months and, as a prelude to my life-changing work experience in 2009, allowed me to visit Canberra twice and stay in five-star hotel accommodation while there.
I continued to meditate both at work and home. Although part of me felt that it wasn’t really achieving anything anymore, I kept at it. Home was the least satisfying environment for meditation because of noise from outside, but for a while playing Iron Butterfly’s ‘In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida’ through headphones while meditating was some help.
Speaking of outside noise at home, the infuriating neighbour upstairs moved out. His replacement played music too loud from time to time, but otherwise she was nowhere near as bad.
Until the morning early in 2003 when I was working from home and in a teleconference with a manager.
As the call came to an end, I suddenly heard a strange sound coming from above.
A moment later, a steady stream of water began pouring onto my desk.
A moment after that, I looked up and saw several more streams of water coming through the ceiling all around my apartment.
I raced into the kitchen, grabbed as many containers as I could and raced around my apartment to catch a total of six streams.
Next, I stepped out and knocked on the door of my neighbour who was also the building caretaker. He saw what was happening inside my apartment, grabbed his toolbox and raced upstairs.
Shortly after that, the water stopped coming.
Soon after that, my neighbour returned to angrily report that my upstairs neighbour had gone to bed while leaving a tap running with a clogged drain, and as a result her apartment had flooded.
I thanked my neighbour very much for his help, and apart from some water stains in my ceiling that remain to this day nothing was damaged in my apartment…
…but in the months that followed, I developed a new phobia.
What if water leaked into my apartment again? And what if I was out at the time?
To make my paranoia worse, that incident was followed by a period of rain. Several nights of already poor sleep were made worse by my mind wondering if that sound of rainwater outside was actually water once again coming through my ceiling…
For months I lived with that fear and telling myself to stop worrying about it, for fuck’s sake.
Eventually, I got over it.
Saturday, 14 June 2003
I was wrong.
TO BE CONCLUDED