Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Mennonite Business as Usual

Continued from Strange Mennonite

Sunday morning I woke up from the most amazing, I-had-died-and-gone-to-heaven dream about George. I was extremely disappointed that I had woken up. I really wanted to live in that dream. I felt strangely happy thinking about it until I walked into the living room and inhaled the familiar scent of home.

My guilty conscience yanked me right back to reality. I hadn’t even been able to enjoy that dream for one lousy minute. My apartment still smelled like Pine-Sol from the cleaning I had done the day before. The scent was a reminder that I was such a disappointment to many people, and most importantly my mom.

While I was having my usual cup of instant coffee, I just couldn’t stop thinking about that dream. How could George, the man that I was once so afraid of, become my perfect, secret dream fantasy?

I realized that up to that point I had mostly had dreams about drifting away from the chaos of my life, to the unknown of Posen Land, seeking answers from my deceased grandfather. Answers that perhaps he didn’t even have for me. I thought maybe it was time to take George’s advice and let go of that.

I wanted to try and just live one day at a time. Not knowing all the answers was okay. It was a relief when George told me that I didn’t need to put all the puzzle pieces together on my own. 

I realized that I was probably overthinking everything again, which I so often did. A memory would trigger one thought and that thought would lead to another and before I knew it I was in deep confusing thoughts. I decided that my nerve problems could be the cause of that.

I turned on the TV to try and distract myself, and to my disappointment, there weren’t any Spanish telenovelas on TV on Sundays.

I decided that I should do my homework instead anyways. I got my workbooks out and started to work on them. I didn’t stop until I finished a whole book. I was looking forward to receiving praise from my teacher again.

I was beginning to do extra work just to get praise from her. I loved and craved the attention she gave me. Whenever I came to school and didn’t get proud praises, I felt like I hadn’t worked hard enough.

I practically jumped out of my skin when my phone rang. I went crazy, thinking, “Should I or shouldn’t I answer it?”

The first thing that popped into my mind was, “It’s Mark, he’s calling me from jail;” followed by, “My mom -- she must have heard by now that I was seen on George’s balcony.”

I hadn’t put the new tape in my answering machine yet since the police had taken the one I had into evidence. The phone just kept ringing and ringing. Finally, I got up and just answered it. I was shaking when I said, “Helloo?”

“Good afternoon, Anna. How are you doing?” asked a deep voice.

“Ahhh… okay I think,” I replied, as my heart started pounding out of my chest.

“This is Hilary. I just wanted to contact you today and let you know that I have spoken with the police. I wanted to personally let you know that we will resume business as usual tomorrow. Anna, you are free to take off as much time as you need. It is entirely up to you when you start work again,” he said.

“I am really sorry for all the trouble I caused,” I replied.

Before I could go on, he interrupted me and said, “Anna, it’s all right. No need for you to apologize, or feel bad about it. Let’s just be grateful that no one got hurt. The best we can do now is move forward and continue working. When you decide to come to work, come and see me in my office first. There are some things I would like to go over with you in person.”

“Sure, okay, I will.”

“Great, have a wonderful rest of the weekend and I hope to see you soon. Take care,” he said and hung up the phone.

I thought, “What if he wants to look me in the eyes when he fires me? Maybe that is what he wants to go over with me in person.”

I decided right away that I was going to work the next day. I couldn’t handle not knowing what Hilary was going to go over with me in person. I wasn’t going to miss any more work than I already had.

I really wanted to make up for the time I missed. I had dreamed of getting one of those perfect attendance plaques like Anita Dyck had gotten once during the time I worked the dayshift before I got laid off.

I thought, “If I don’t get fired, I won’t miss a single day from now on for a whole year and then I’ll get one of those plaques too.” I really wanted to be good at something, and getting something that said that to hang on the wall would even be better.

As long as I wouldn’t meet any more stalkers, I could do that. I loved working in that factory. For a girl like me, it was a dream job. I realized it was true especially after my one disastrous day of working on the tobacco field and working at that “fishy” embroidery shop that hid bears in the back of the shop for a reason unknown to me.

After trying so desperately to find another job, showing up at this job on time every day was easy for me. I thought that that could be the one thing that I could be good at. I could really impress Hilary with that.

I even envisioned it. It was perfect: Hilary shaking my hand as he hands the plaque to me and in his deep voice that had become my personal beautiful music saying, “Congratulations on your perfect attendance, Anna.”’ I got the shivers just thinking about it.

Monday morning I went to school, handed in a whole finished workbook, and got my learning-ability confidence cup filled to the top with beautiful praises from my amazing teacher. I realized that my teacher was making me want to push myself by making me feel good about the work I was doing.

I was beginning to feel a bit less like a worthless idiot. It was still hard to let go of that hard learner label I had carried around with me my whole life. A few new students joined us that morning. My teacher was too busy to even ask how things were with my stalker.

That was fine with me -- I didn’t feel like talking about it anymore. None of my lunch buddies showed up that day. I knew it was probably because they’d been to a party and drank too much on the weekend. During the lunch hour, I stayed in the classroom and started working on the next level of the workbooks I was learning from.

Once in a while, I thought about how it was possible for so much to happen to one person in such a short time. The Friday before I’d been sitting in that same spot worrying about how I was going to get through the day and how I was going to figure out what to do about my stalker.

I sat there thinking about how light and free I felt that I at least didn’t have to worry about that anymore. I thought, “That’s it! From now on, I am not giving my phone number to anyone ever again.”

Three o’clock came way too fast and not fast enough at the same time. I just wanted the day to be over so that I would know if I would get fired or not. When I got to the factory, I waited in the cafeteria for the day shift people to leave before I went to Hilary’s office.

I got weak in the knees and had to sit down quickly as I watched George walking toward me. No matter what I tried to do to stop it, my mind just went there. That dream I had had about him just slithered its way to the front of my mind.

“Hey, gorgeous, how are you doing?” he asked.

I thought, Oh crap!” and said, “Ahhh…” when I found my voice.

“I thought I would stop by and give you a little pep talk on my way out,” he said, as he sat down right against me. I began feeling woozy when he put his fingers under my chin and lifted my head like he had done so many times before; but after the dream I’d had, it had a whole new effect on me.

I didn’t know what part of him to look at as he looked me straight in my eyes and said, “Anna, I had a feeling that you might be really worried again today. You are not going to get fired. Just remember, chin up, deep breaths and smiles only. Everything is going to be fine. Hilary just wants to talk to you.”

“Mmmm… Hmmm…” I mumbled in a daze.

“Have a good night. Talk to you soon. And remember, you can call me anytime, or just stop by at the end of your shift if you feel like it.” 

I began feeling extremely sad as I watched him walk away leaving me there to fend for myself. I began to wonder, “What is happening to me? After everything that has happened, this is where I’m at?”

I took a few minutes to breathe until I gained some strength back into my legs. I was still a bit shaky as I walked toward Hilary’s office. He opened the door for me and said, “Hi, Anna, please come in. Have a seat. Good to see you here today, how are you doing?”

“Okay, I think.”

I got lost in the sound of his voice again as he began talking: “I just want to make sure that you’re alright after everything you went through leading up to what happened over the weekend. You know that you can come and talk to me any time, right?”   


“The police tell me that Mark is going away for a long time and that they will do everything that they can to make sure that he doesn’t bother you again.”

 “Okay, that is great.”

“Anna, just be careful. Sometimes this sort of thing can affect a person, days, weeks, or even months after going through it. Just know that you can talk to me or call your doctor if you need to talk to someone about it, okay?”

“Okay, I will.”

“Do you remember Christina? She bought a house close to where you live. She started working the afternoon shift today. I mentioned to her that maybe the two of you could ride to and from work together from now on. That way you won’t be all by yourself driving home late at night, just as a precaution.”

“Yes, I do remember her. That sounds great, thank you,” I replied.

“Okay then, that will be all for now. Have a good night,” Hilary said. And off I went, remembering George telling me, chin up, deep breaths and smiles only as I walked to my work station to continue the work that I had left when the police showed up. Click here to continue reading my story.

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