23 Precisely – Part III

So, back to the story. Some book reviews coming to this space soon. Surely, a political rant as well. Heck, that’s why you’re here, isn’t it?
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In the past six weeks, quiet had returned to the workplace. Janice and Jorge had gone undetected, Mark’s ravings were attributed to his psychotic break. Fortunately for all involved, his employer (if not his coworkers) was well aware that mental health problems were just that: health problems. Consequently, since there was no damage done and no physical harm to anyone except Mark, he’d been well cared for on an extended leave of absence vice facing any disciplinary action .

A long stay with a top-shelf care facility had given him a new life, some respite from his anxieties with the proper medication, and time to decompress. He’d been in a self-imposed exile from reality for years and was actually happy to have it brought to his attention. He’d adopted a cat, eaten good meals in nice restaurants, and begun a physical fitness program that included long walks along the base of the foothills.

Monday. Monday he would return to work. He reached out to his group on Thursday night, seeking affirmation that it was perfectly normal to be nervous about going back into that office with a few issues unresolved. Friday afternoon he’d met with his boss and the H.R. Director in a different branch office where nobody knew him. They read through his accounts of the episode, the doctor’s release, and chatted with Mark about how we was going to handle the stress that went with his very high-tech job.

Satisfied, they mutually agreed to a return on Monday morning.

Mark made it through the first day without any hitches being obvious to the multitude watching his every move. One good soul had even brought him a cookie-bouquet and a welcome card. Others stopped by during the day to say a kind word and let him know that they’d missed his help during the busiest time of the year.

To Mark, that sounded like a criticism instead of a laudatory reference to his sterling work ethic. He counted his numbers at the end of the day and realized he was 37% below his usual norms. That wouldn’t do.

Tuesday morning Mark had fed the cat and taken most of his medication when the phone rang. Another robo-caller letting him know that his non-existent student loan could be refinanced. When Mark returned to the kitchen counter where he kept his medication, he halted for a moment. This one, the last he was to take, this was the one. The doctor warned him that it might make him drowsy or a bit slower on the mark than usual. He had felt a little behind yesterday, 37% to be precise. Skip it. It was one of many, not that important.

The next three weeks moved into the rear-view mirror with no glitches. Mark gradually picked up the pace at work until he was back within 2% of his normal production. And down three of the prescribed medications to attain that lofty goal. He didn’t realize that even on his worst day he was 85% more productive than any of his peers. To him, he was just hitting normal three weeks into the game.

Next week he’d trim one more medication and the be back where he should be. He’d thought long and hard about it last night while taking his walk. Even the cat agreed: he was doing just fine. He’d asked.

The cat had answered.

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Come back Thursday for the next installment of 23 Precisely.

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