My boss. For the most appallingly rude personal comment directed at me in years.
Here’s what happened. On Friday we received an outstanding résumé from a potential freelancer. It turned out that she had freelanced from us years about fifteen years ago and had since gotten her PhD. From the looks of things, she had not been able to find work in her field and was trying her hand again at freelancing. This is certainly common enough, and my boss, my coworker, and I were talking about the lack of work being a major deterrent to getting an advanced degree.
“I thought about getting a PhD after my master’s,” I said, “but I looked down that lonely road and saw years and years spent in my head, forming no real attachments and not having a real home, only to have to find a job outside the field. I decided that for me, it just wasn’t worth it.”
My boss looked at me and said sarcastically, “Well, you had all that time. Do you have any real attachments or a real home?”
Well, you know the answer to that one, Bitch. My life is completely meaningless, and I spend every night home alone with my fifty cats, eating ice cream out of the carton and plotting how to foil the neighborhood children.
I checked that reaction and used my schmoozer skills to take the “high road.” “Tell me when to stop,” I said, laughing and waving my fingers in the air. I then explained what I meant, which didn’t have anything to do at all with finding a man or buying a house but instead about living in a place and forming a community of my choosing. I didn’t love my subject enough to sacrifice the best years of my life for it—and that’s not to say that other people couldn’t decide to make those sacrifices and have it be the right decision for them. We joked for a few more moments, and then she went into her office.
And that’s when I started crying. I’d like to say that digs about my single life don’t hurt and that I’m just able to laugh them off, but they do. I know that I have a full life now, and I am enjoying it, but still. This isn’t my first pick. I really don’t need my boss’s judgment to remind me that it isn’t my first pick.
My young coworker, who was part of the conversation and was just as shocked as I was, offered a lot of support, and I managed to recover myself enough to enjoy my weekend anyway. In fact, I’m sure I had more fun. Single people get to go to parties and go off on their own adventures without any guilt whatsoever. Still, her words came to me this weekend, and I did think a lot about how this wasn’t what I really wanted.
And now I have to go in today and face the winner of the prize for most appallingly rude personal comment directed at me in years. Wish me luck.