Thursday, September 16, 2010

Working with Jeff

This is the final week for session one of Mommy's Piggy Tales! YAY! I made it!

This week's post is actually during my senior year and the summer following (though this week is 'post' high school), this is what truly stood out in my mind when I sat down to write, and since it is work related not school related so much I thought it works still. But I plan on continuing on with more post high school memories on Mondays with Janna starting in October.

My first job was at a thrift store. I got the job just before I turned 16 because my mom was the manager. I will save the details of it for another day (in session two of Mommy's Piggy Tales). When I was 18, and still in school, there was a new guy at work. His name was Jeff. He was handsome, with dark brown hair, and the type of eyes that always had that sparkle in them. And yes, briefly I had a crush on him. He wasn't too much older then me, and he made me laugh. I enjoyed working even the night shift if I was closing with him. He worked hard, so I wasn't picking up someone else's slack, but he also made it fun. But as for the crush, I knew it was just that, and I didn't agree with his lifestyle choices by a long shot. Lets just say he would not have been attracted to me no matter how beautiful of a girl I was. But we were friends, not close, but work friends. Though we had never hung out after work before I had actually asked Jeff to take me to my prom before I had gotten up the courage to ask Jon (see last week's post). Jeff agreed to be my 'date' if Jon couldn't go, but luckily Jon said yes, and Jeff was genuinely excited for me when he did.

One night Jeff and I were scheduled to work the closing shift with our supervisor Shawn. These were my favorite nights because Shawn was pretty laid back and one of the nicer supervisors. She didn't get mad or irritated when you needed help, she just helped you. And she wouldn't give into the customers who were being ridiculous asking for things to be marked down, at least not as much as some of the other supervisors did.
My night started right after school around 3, but Jeff wasn't supposed to show until 5, which is also when our second supervisor Sharon would leave for the night, and only the 3 of us would be left. it was shortly before 5 and the phone rang. I happened to be at the registers beside the phone, so I answered it. It was Jeff, he sounded...different. His emotionless voice told me he wasn't coming in again, ever. I was so confused, the way he was talking scared me. I don't remember who ended up taking the phone from me, Shawn or Sharon, but one of them did.
Later Sharon pulled me in the back, I was upset because something was obviously wrong. Though Jeff and I weren't very close, I still cared enough about him to want him to be okay. I don't remember exactly how much Sharon told me, but basically that Jeff wouldn't be coming back to work, but that he needed help. It was decided since it wasn't very busy, that Shawn and I could close just the two of us, though Sharon stayed later then planned. Once she left Shawn made more phone calls to Jeff to see how he was. Shawn and Jeff were close, at least for how close they could be as a supervisor and employee, they hung out after work sometimes with some other co-workers, doing things I would never have even if I had been old enough. I was always the naive and innocent manager's daughter, but I was okay with that- I knew I didn't want to know anything about that other life.
Shawn was getting very worried about Jeff, and told me she decided to go check on him after we closed (9 pm). Though she fought me at first, I told her I wanted to help him too, and if she didn't agree to it I would just follow her there anyway, so she caved. We rushed through all the after hours tasks, preparing for the next day, and were out the door pretty quickly. Jeff's place was actually right on my way home, though we had to park on a different road since it was only street parking in that part of town. I was glad Shawn had agreed to take me since I probably would've chickened out just realizing how dark that area was and parking a whole street away to walk wouldn't have seemed safe alone. We got to Jeff's house, his parents were across the country visiting family and this was actually one of the rare times he didn't go with them. He let us inside. I was shocked at how he looked, I don't think I had ever seen someone look that pale before. Like all the life had drained from his face, and the sparkle in his eyes was gone, in fact he didn't really seem to 'see' anything, just stared. He moved so slowly and steadily, as if just on auto pilot. Shawn told him to get his things, she didn't want to leave him alone, so he would go home with her. I don't remember what his reasoning had been, but he had locked the basement and thrown his house key down the laundry shoot, so we had to find a way to get to it before we left. The whole time I don't remember saying much. I cried, I hugged him, and just watched in shock at how different this person was to me. Like night and day. I helped Shawn eventually get him to the car and I got in my own and went home. I don't think I slept much that night.
Jeff never came back to work, though he stayed with Shawn and her family until his own came home. I wrote him a letter, which Shawn gave to him. His parents had decided to move him back to the East Coast where they were originally from and he had more family and friends. I hoped to keep in touch, and continue trying to witness to him. I had always snuck it into our conversations at work, inviting him and anyone who would come to church with me.
Sometime the summer after my graduation, Jeff came into the store. I can't remember if they had decided not to move, or just hadn't yet, but he found me in the men's department cleaning up and stopped to say hi. I remember showing off my engagement ring, and telling him more about Jon and prom. He promised to keep in touch (doesn't everyone- I know I do sometime realizing it may not happen!). I still think about him sometimes and pray for him. I know now what was going on that night. Jeff is bi-polar, and was having one of the lows because he had stopped taking his medication. Bi-polar is a form of depression, characterized by exactly what I saw in him, extreme highs and loads of energy, and then falling so low you don't even want to live anymore. This was the first time I truly witnessed that face to face with someone I knew and cared for and I will never forget it. It isn't just one of those things you read about, and this was just one more step for me in realizing how much I still someday hope to become a psychologist, to help others, to help more people like Jeff.

This is my 15th of 15 posts in a series to record my youth with other woman at
. Would you like to record your youth for your children and grandchildren to read about someday? Janna is beginning a second session on Oct. 7th for those who would like to join! I know I will be there sharing many more of my memories!!


  1. Wow! What a story. I can definitely feel all of those emotions as I read. Thank you for sharing.
    I can tell that you will be a great psychologist!

  2. That would be so scarry. What an experience for a young adult!

  3. What an amazing post! You will make a wonderful psychologist, and I hope some day you are able to reach your goal! I'm sorry I missed most of your Mommy's Piggy Tales...I was in Group 2, and just didn't manage to read everyone's post! You are a wonderful writer.

    I'd like to invite you to join me at Mommy's Piggy Tales on Mondays, starting October 11. I'll be guest hosting "Young Adult Years," where you can write more details about your life after high school. Email me at lemondroppie(at)gmail(dot)com to sign up. We'd love to have you join our group!

  4. I am so glad you and Shawn went to check on him and that Shawn took him home till his family returned. That must have been hard to see at such a young age! Very moving story!


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