I once worked with a woman once who was a complete bitch. Actually, make that Bitch – I think she deserved the capital! Name anyone, and provided they weren’t within earshot, she could denigrate everything about them from their taste in shoes to their great-grandfather’s propensity to abandon his wedding vows. OK, perhaps the Bitch didn’t quite know everyone’s great-grandfather’s peccadilloes, but what she didn’t know she wasn’t afraid to invent.
I will say one thing for her, though: when I needed a shoulder to cry on, she was there. Now, I don’t know whether everyoneheard afterwards that I’d been bawling my eyes out; maybe they did, maybe they didn’t – I certainly never heard about it, which given the general level of gossip around that joint may indicate the Bitch chose to keep her mouth shut on this occasion. Regardless, on one day when I felt quite alone in the world, she stepped up and was there for me. (I left that job soon after, anyway; who needs that level of poison in their lives?)
We like people to be consistent, don’t we? Life is easy when the goodies remain good and the baddies stick to their evil ways. We like our friends to be always on our side, our enemies to be eternally foul, and Bitches to … well, be consistently bitchy. Perhaps this is one reason why I still remember her, over ten years later: she demonstrated a capacity to break the mold.
On that day when my depression pressed in, when I had to get away and bolted to the loos to cry, it wasn’t the peer I shared an office with who was there for me; it wasn’t my supervisor; it was this woman, the Bitch, who put aside her snarky manner and listened in a non-judgmental way. She passed me tissues, told me about her sister’s struggle with depression, and validated my misery.
You know what? I can’t even remember her name. All I can remember is feeling grateful as we hugged, my arms around her bony shoulders and my tears on her shirt, and the blessed relief which came from being listened to in that dark hour.
Nameless Bitch, thank you for being there that day. I think I could forgive you everything else, for those minutes of sweet comfort.