Vulnerability in the workplace and its role in building teams

Grammar police— this piece is full of tense shifts. I’m tired. Deal with it.

We’ve all had that corny job that encourages team building exercises and how uncomfortable that can be when they are telling you to trust someone that frankly you don’t trust.

It’s hard to be vulnerable with new people and new environments and this can lead to us seeming aloof or feeling alienated or shunned by the group.

Yesterday I had a painful day at work, and I’m still struggling emotionally with my father’s death, and compounding all of that is the fact that my sleep has not been that restful.

So imagine me… as the alarm goes off at 4:45 a.m., struggling to stretch out my stiff, spastic lower body and my aching spine. I went to the other side of my room to check on the cats’ food and had to use the vacuum cleaner as a cane.

I stumbled to the shower and afterwards managed to get my bra, shirt and panties on but saved the socks and pants for after coffee.

I prepare my coffee directly into my to-go mug, a FURR fundraiser item that keeps my coffee warm until my first break almost four hours later and lukewarm until lunch.

I email my neurologist asking for help getting a physiatrist appointment. I still wonder if I should be going to work at all. I tell myself if I really can’t function, I’ll call the chiropractor at 9 a.m. and see if I can get an appointment.

I decide it’s time to put on my pants.

But then my pants don’t button.

And I’m not talking about “these are snug,” these are all out as if I were trying to wear a child’s pants. Too much Taco Bell last night.

The teenager did a white wash so there is a pair of sweatpants in the kitchen. I put them on and wrestled with my socks.

I go to get my shoes. The teenager has piled the garbage on top of them. I find other shoes.

I then needed to decide between the pizza I can’t even remember when I ordered it and the pancakes from Friday for lunch.

I grabbed both.

Once at work, they have me assigned to line 5, table 8a. Now, they have the tables on line 5 labeled incorrectly. Somehow, they go 0, 1a, 2a, 3a, 5a, 8a, 4a, 6a, 7a. Someone is already working on the ninth table, which is labeled seven. So just to be clear, I ask my supervisor.

“I am to go to the sixth table, which would if you were going by the labels at the previous lines would be table five, because the actual labels are out of order?”

He looked up. “Oh, yeah. They are.”

But then someone is also at the sixth table which is labeled 8a. The lead on the line does the research and this interloper belongs on an entirely different line, but somehow ends up a few stations ahead of me.

I have to organize the station because it was set up for Freestyle not QC.

And then I see the person on line 4b, across the aisle from me, get an entire rack of refixes. That’s about three hours worth of work.

I went back to the lead who I approached about my interloper. I explained I had a disability and I was having a bad physical and emotional day and, let me paraphrase, I said I wanted refixes, too.

I got them.

The day shift support people and my normally favorite support person brought me refixes all day.

And I learned more about my favorite support person’s family history. And we discussed philosophy and gave each other a pep talk. And the day shift support person was also super supportive.

And it made me feel physically and emotionally better to share the weight of my burdens. I made 98%. Which is amazing — and I haven’t seen numbers that high since October.

My lead was pleased.

And I felt lighter.

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