THE GENIUS IN THE BASEMENT

Martha is responsible for the payroll of thousands of employees at the hospital where I work. She has a small cubicle in a group office in the basement of my building. It’s at least a ten-minute walk to reach her. My employer has numerous complex codes workers may use on their time cards. These codes allow us to utilize our time creatively and are designed to make our lives easier. There are codes for advance sick leave and advance vacation leave, along with numerous rules that dictate the application of these leave codes. Invariably, when I use one, I screw it up.

albert-einstein-401484__180Whenever my paystub contains an unpleasant surprise, I run to Martha. She’s a quiet woman, middle aged like me, with an unassuming air. She’s infinitely patient with me, and if she can’t resolve a problem or answer a question immediately, she’ll research the issue and send me an e-mail with the answer. She understands all the esoteric rules and formulas that influence my various leaves, which in my book qualifies her as a genius.

Having a go-to person for problems with my paystub has reduced this particular episodic stressor immeasurably. I wish I had someone like Martha to manage all the incidental stresses of my life. But I’m grateful to have her help, and I tell her this every chance I get. When we live with chronic illness, it’s helpful to identify go-to people who can assist us. It doesn’t matter if the go-to person is a medical provider or a baby sitter. I urge you to find go-to people in your lives. Remember to thank them profusely, because they’re lifesavers.

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