I was waiting for the elevator at day's end the other night, ready to meet dh downstairs & head home from work. I was joined by one of the more senior members of my department's team -- a woman of more or less the same vintage as me. She's only been with us a little over a year, but has worked for my company for many years in other locations.
As we exchanged small talk, out of the blue, she said to me, "So -- are you and your husband still volunteering for [pregnancy loss support group]?"
I was a little taken aback. How did she know?? She's in an administrative position, and I thought perhaps she might have seen some paperwork pertaining to one of my old applications for an employee volunteer program grant.
I said no, actually, we stopped about two years ago.
"You're probably wondering how I know that," she acknowledged, then added, "I was part of the group myself."
"Really??" said I. "Were you a client, or a volunteer, or...?" She told me she had been a client (meaning she has lost a pregnancy herself) -- "It was in 1992, I'm coming up to 20 years now" ("1998," I responded. "I'm not sure how many people here would remember that now...") -- and was briefly a facilitator trainee. "I couldn't do it," she said. "It just reopened a can of worms that I wasn't prepared to deal with." I said I knew lots of people who felt that way, said dh & I had facilitated for 10 years, and some of the reasons why we had decided it was time to step down.
She mentioned she had seen our names in the support group's newsletter, acknowledging our company's employee volunteer recognition donations (several of them over the years). When she came to work in our department, she heard my name & thought, "Hmmm, that sounds familiar," & eventually made the connection.
As she spoke, I suddenly remembered seeing HER name in the newsletter, in connection with another one of our company programs, which provides matching grants for employees' fundraising activities. I remembered thinking at the time, "Hey, someone else who works for our company!" (there have been a few of them, over the years...) & looking up her name in the online directory.
As we talked, we eventually got into the elevator, reached the ground floor and reached the point where we cut the conversation short, said goodnight & headed off in different directions -- me to tell dh, "You'll never believe the conversation I just had..."
She's not someone I felt like I had much in common with before. I'm still not sure how much we have in common, other than the department we work for, and now the support group.
But wow. Her words made me see her in an entirely different light. As I said, you just never know...!