Belonging

Dusty called me at work this morning.

“Chrissy?” His voice sounded hesitant.

“Dusty?” I replied.

“How are you?” He said

“I’m good, thanks, how are you?” I replied, curiously.

“I’m good. (pause) I had a nightmare about you last night.” He finally said. “I dreamed you got transferred to King Salmon.”

“Well that wouldn’t be as bad as being fired.” I replied

“But you’re not leaving McGrath.” This was not a question he posed. It was a statement.

Recently, I’ve been fretting about my job, hating it but at the same time, fearing failing at it, and possibly getting “the boot.” It’s associated with other personal issues which amplify the Paranoia, but my fears are not un-founded. After a certain event that happened a few months ago concerning two of our friends who no longer work for the company, we’ve been treated differently. Phone calls don’t get returned as often. Requests aren’t being met like they used to be. Certain “higher ups”, just don’t want to hear anything we have to say. (Except for Tess because she knows us better than that) They are convinced that we had something to do with our friends suddenly up and quitting (and believe me they had very good reasons). How that could possibly be? I have no idea. But the VP’s who once adored us and gave us their unfailing support, now scrutinize everything we do. It’s been stressful. It has not been fun. They have also suddenly raised their expectations of us. Expectations that I might add are very unreasonable. If I didn’t know better, I’d swear they were setting us up to fail. Dare I say it? Giving them a reason to get rid of us. (yes, I know that’s terrible for a well established company to treat employees that way, believe me, we’re appalled.) But we keep defying the odds. We keep doing a good job. And I think it’s pissing them off. My boss is visiting this week. It was on very short notice. I voiced my concerns to Dusty. He worried and fretted with us. But the entire time, telling us that if we were ever “transferred against our will” or fired, the community would have A LOT to say about it. Dusty has sworn to find jobs for us here, a place to live, etc. All just to keep us here where we were. Even though Howard could easily go back to teaching and I could just go back to school full time.

In the phone call this morning, he talked about how we were missed during the 4th of July festivities. (We spent yesterday at work, even though we were closed, because that’s what good fucking employees we are.) How everyone thought we had gotten the boot. He said that in a matter of hours, he’d rallied a huge number of people together who made a vow to boycott our company if we were “moved” or “let go” for any reason. He said that the people appreciate what we do here, we are a “very good fit” for this community. And believe me. In rural Alaska? In my line of work? You have to be a “good fit.” He said that people offered money out of their own pockets to keep us here, even if we got fired. “You and Howard are well-loved, Chrissy.”

I didn’t know what to say. I honestly choked up. I stammered a “oh my gosh, thank you so much, that’s so sweet!” I managed not to turn into a blubbering slob.

“You know, you’re not leaving. You’re going to stay here forever.” Dusty is always telling us.

I don’t know how long we will stay but I have to say that part of the reason why I think I’m so “job scared” right now is because I have fallen in love with this town. For me to find a place I could actually picture myself staying in for more than a few years? Is a huge feat. Just ask the people who know how many times we’ve relocated. Granted, our entire time in Alaska, we’ve been moved because our company required it but it’s been relatively easy for me since I finished high school. I’m an “odd duck”, you might say. For me to feel like I fit in anywhere? Is huge. And I feel like I fit here. I’m so scared because I feel like it’s too good to be true. I keep expecting something bad to happen. I’m terrified to have to leave this place I now consider “home.”

I said a little prayer last night. I talked to my boss this morning. He couldn’t make the flight out today, because he wasn’t feeling well. He’ll come tomorrow morning and just stay overnight and leave on Friday. He sounded very positive and reassured me that he thinks we’re doing a great job, that this is just a routine visit that he has to make at least once a year and it made me feel better.

Because I’m not ready to leave this place. I don’t know if I ever will.

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