I am training my replacement.
No, not that replacement. Not the replacement I was threatened with again this weekend as he sat on the edge of the couch with a smile and told me, “This will be fun.”
“What will be fun?,” I asked.
“Finding someone new,” he’d said.
No, I’m not training that replacement.
I am training my replacement at work. Who, ironically, I replaced.
She is several years younger than I, blonder than I, thinner than I. My colleagues greeted her warmly and with hugs big enough to span the three years she’s been absent from their lives.
I put her in my seat behind the desk and took a seat to the side.
She addressed my boss with a casual nickname, not the “Sir,” I’ve grown accustomed to using. She took smoke breaks. She was not comfortable in high heels. She uniformly addressed each tenant as “dear,” and did not engage any in conversation beyond niceties.
As I introduced each office visitor to her, I assured them, “You’re in good hands with her.”
And yet, I’m not as convinced.
Perhaps the edge she presents will smooth. After all, this was her first day back. I can imagine that next Monday, I may appear just as clunky when I begin my new position.
I remember when I joined this company three years ago. I felt as I was stepping into giant shoes she had left behind.
“Your boss loved Catie,” a colleague told me.
When I did something incorrectly, or was criticized by my boss, I quietly feared he would call her back in.
But now that she is replacing me–actually replacing me–I laugh at the hours I spent cowering underneath the perceived brilliance of her memory.
She is not me.
I am relaxed. I know my tenants. I know my clients. I know my employees. I walk in my heels with confidence and direction. I am nonplussed when the unexpected occurs. I take time to build relationships. I take time to say hello and goodbye. I read other’s emotions, and offer a bridge to a better state. I am a trusted confidant. I am respectful. I believe in titles, and advocating for the people behind them. I am compassionate. I am smart. I am good at what I do. And I do it with a finesse that cannot be replicated because no one else is me.
I do not know that I will feel this way when I am again replaced. By him.
The thought of another making his coffee in the mornings, and sinking into his embrace at night grips my heart like a constrictor gripping its prey. The thought of another–likely younger, blonder, and thinner–appearing in pictures with him in places my picture was never allowed stings like an adder’s bite.
I do not know why the snake analogies. Perhaps, unconsciously, I’m drawing parallels between my greatest fears. And then again, perhaps its another Higher Power Play, for I recall that just yesterday my cousin posted a picture of a small rattlesnake in a blue Lowe’s 5-gallon bucket.
She wrote, “Finally, a rattlesnake!”
Questions poured in.
Did you catch it?
What are your plans?
Here is a woman who has fished for ‘monsters’ in the Amazon, now playing with rattlesnakes in the desert.
Perhaps there is badass in my blood.
I hope that when I am replaced, when I feel the strike that moment will be for my heart, that something inside of me will remember yesterday’s realization: No one else is me. Any replacement, though she may be younger, blonder, and thinner, will be clunky and less finessed stepping into the path I’ve carved.
I hope that when that day comes, I remember the rattlesnake in the bucket and have the same reaction as my cousin: Finally!