I was the new girl at Oxygen Media.
I was known around the office mostly as the girl who, during her first week on the job, correctly matched every staff member with the little-known fact he or she had contributed to a quiz as part of a team building exercise.
How did she do it? I’ll never tell.
Shortly after my arrival at Oxygen, a team of Big Names from New York descended upon the office to announce that the Seattle office would be closed. A small group of employees was invited to move to New York City, to work at the mother ship. Twelve of us took the offer. When I told my boss, Steve, that I would move, he hugged me and said, “Of everyone, I didn’t expect you to come!”
This may have been because of all the tears. During the announcement meeting, I’d been an embarassing wreak, openly weeping in front of my colleagues and all of those suits from New York. At that time, my job was my favorite thing going on in life and I didn’t want to lose it.
Soon after I landed in The Big Apple Steve sent me to do an installation guide with Kris. I had no idea Kris was actually was Kristof from Seattle. I had heard the name “Kristof” in meetings, spoken with a certain respect. It reminded me of the old commercials, “When E.F. Hutton speaks…”
At our first meeting, Kris started by pointing out that the draft we had been handed was not organized well, and that the sections did not have the same level of detail. We decided to do a fresh install, and create a new document as we went. Within an hour it became apparent that he could easily do my job. My contribution to the document was teaching Kris how to use Word styles and apply formatting conventions.
I noticed a book on Kris' desk that seemed out of place on the desk of a software developer. I picked up Jeanette Winterson’s Written on the Body, and Kris began paging through it, showing me his favorite passages.
Have you ever read this book? It is the most concrete, physical description of heartbreak and loss I have ever read. It hit me like a brick. After ten minutes I had to stop him. This was all hitting too close to my own situation, and the tears were starting up again.
That moment seemed to spark Kris' attention. He looked up at me with a sharper focus, as if really seeing me for the first time.
“Have dinner with me tonight, ” he said.