Remembering Rachel

“But it was just Tuesday… it was just Tuesday… it was just Tuesday…”

I kept repeating these words to myself as I laid in bed, staring at my iPhone in disbelief. Tears started to form at the inner corners of my eyes. I felt hollow. The last posts she had made were early Tuesday night on both Facebook and Twitter.

“SHE WAS JUST HERE!” I screamed inside. “How can she be gone?”

It was Thursday night and I was doing my final check-in on social media before I went to bed. I read the news from a post made by a student of hers on her Facebook page. She had such a great rapport with her students, both current and past, so I wasn’t surprised she was Facebook friends with many of them. I joined them in their disbelief and sadness that night.

Rachel is gone.


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I met Rachel Trithardt on November 9, 2014, at a Lethbridge Tweet-Up at Moxie’s. I don’t remember much of what we talked about that evening, though I bet it was the usual small talk and pleasantries most people revert to when in a room full of strangers with Twitter handles. One thing we both had in common was that we worked at the college — she was an ESL instructor, and I was the administrative assistant for the library. Later that night, probably while in bed before I went to sleep, I made sure to follow everyone I met that night — including Rachel.

After the Tweet-Up, I kept an eye open for Rachel while on campus. We’d bump into each other while in line to buy Indian tacos for a FMNI club fundraiser or while gathering before going out for a winter walk with fellow college staff. Unfortunately, times like these were very rare because she was often in the Andrews building and I didn’t stray too far from the library. Thankfully, Twitter filled in the gaps.

I left the college for a new job in March 2015 and I did not see Rachel in person again after that. Instead, our friendship grew through our interactions with each other on Twitter, Instagram, and eventually Facebook. The more we spoke to each other, the more I found we had in common:

  • We both loved the show Community (season 4 not so much), and agree that Joel McHale is #perfection.
  • I’m dead set on #sixseasonsandamovie, and she was happy if there was just a #seventhseason (but she said she had a good idea for a movie.)
  • Other shows we loved were Gilmore Girls and Corner Gas,
  • We complained about #yql drivers.
  • She’d make fun of dumb things I’d complain about, like how I hate it when people only spell my name with one “N” instead of two.
  • We both got twitchy for our red pens when we saw bad grammar.
  • We appreciated a good thunderstorm. #thunderbolts #lightning #notveryveryfrightening
  • We lived in “the best neighbourhood in town” (her words) #Lakeview
  • We agonized over how loud Whoop-Up Days was since we lived so close to the Exhibition Grounds. She lived closer, so I had no right to complain.
  • We believed if someone says they are bored in Lethbridge then they must be boring.
  • We loved PostSecret.
  • We thought the idea of a pizza with extra cheese and extra mushrooms was heaven.
  • We both used to be on LiveJournal.
  • We could not wait for Bed, Bath & Beyond to open. It took FOREVER!
  • We both loved Disturbed’s cover of The Sound of Silence.
  • We shared a love of stationery/office supplies. (Staples!)
  • We disliked taking selfies.
  • My husband and her fought control over a nearby Pokemon Go gym this past summer. He was Team Mystic, she was Team Instinct.
  • We both got copies of Joel McHale’s book because we just couldn’t resist.

I don’t think I’ve ever had a friend who I could relate to as much as I did with her. My husband tells me that is the reason why I’ve taken her passing so hard.  There is a part of you that goes away with the loss of a person you connect with. Big or small, your life changes with their passing and it can hurt far more than you would ever expect.

I’ve experienced loss before, but it’s mostly been older relatives that I was not close to, and their passing was not as abrupt  and unexpected. There was no time to prepare and say goodbye. It definitely makes you cherish every day you have with those close to you more than you did before.

If you can, please donate to The Kidney Foundation of Canada in memory of Rachel.

More than just answering the telephone

Happy Administrative Professionals’ Day!

Are you an administrative professional? I have been one for four and a half years now, and I love it! Administrative professionals include receptionists, office assistants, administrative assistants, data entry specialists, executive assistants, and bookkeepers. They can be found in almost every industry, making office administration a versatile career choice.

I love being an administrative assistant because I enjoy keeping things organized and running smoothly. A few of my responsibilities include, but are not limited to, answering the telephone, providing front-end customer service, ordering materials, taking meeting minutes, and managing a Twitter account. The great thing about being an office admin is that your job is constantly in a state of evolution, and your job description changes year after year. Just when you are getting comfortable with your responsibilities, and maybe a little bored, something new comes along and you feel challenged and refreshed again.

I have a little extra incentive to go to work every day because I have a strange obsession with stationery. I get to be surrounded by highlighters, Sharpies, and Post-It Notes all day long! I used to work for the corporate office of a steel manufacturing company, and my cubicle was directly across from the stationery supply cabinet. Every time someone would open the doors, you would get a whiff of that distinct smell stationery has, and I loved it! I know, it’s incredibly weird, but I have worked with other people who have the same obsession, so I know that I am not alone. I’ve even told my husband that instead of buying me jewellery for special occasions he could buy me stationery instead and I would be ecstatic. One year, I received a red Swingline stapler, identical to the one from the movie Office Space, for my birthday. It’s awesome!

You are constantly learning as an office admin. I graduated from the two-year Office Administration diploma at Lethbridge College, and even though I left with a great foundation of knowledge, I continued learning new things once I started working. Further beyond that, I joined the Lethbridge chapter of the International Association of Administrative Professionals, or IAAP, so that I could learn even more by attending their monthly professional development dinner meetings. My membership has also led me to some great resources, networking opportunities, and new friendships.

So, on this Administrative Professionals’ Day, please thank those who help keep everything running smoothly in your office. There is a lot of behind-the-scenes work that we do that sometimes goes unnoticed, so it’s great to show your appreciation.

Oh, and if you are interested in joining the Lethbridge Chapter of IAAP, click here for more information.

Good samaritans

Sometimes it’s the littlest things that can ruin our day – stubbing our toe on a piece of furniture, receiving a photo radar ticket in the mail, or sleeping through our alarm clock. But the littlest things can also make our day through simple, thoughtful gestures.

Near the end of August of last year, I was preparing to start college for the second time. The book list for the fall semester had just been released, so I drove to the college one day and prepared myself to spend a small fortune. I chose to park in the paid parking section that is directly in front of the main doors. There you obtain a parking pass from a yellow ticket-dispensing machine by dropping in a loonie to receive a ticket for 45 minutes of parking time.

I was approaching this machine with loonie in hand when a gentleman in his 40s jogged up to me from the front entrance and told me not to buy a ticket. I was surprised at first until he continued, saying that he just had to pop in quick and barely used 10 minutes of time off his ticket. He said he would just give me his so I could use the 35 minutes that were left. I gratefully accepted his generosity and followed him to his truck. He took his ticket from the dashboard and handed it to me. I held out my dulled loonie in exchange, but he politely declined it. I said thank you, and then he was off. I rarely encounter this kind of generosity from random people, so I was quite surprised when it happened. I went to my car and put his pass on my dash and set off to load my credit card with my textbook purchase.

In the beginning of January of this year, I was off again on my trek to the college bookstore. I approached the ticket-dispensing machine with my loonie at the ready, but this time I was behind someone in line already in the process of getting a pass. Their ticket had just been dispensed when, once again, someone came from their vehicle saying they still had time left on their ticket and wondered if someone wanted it. And once again, I got to be the lucky recipient.

Now, truth be told, I am known to be a lucky person at some of the most opportune times (one of the nicknames my family has for me is “Horseshoes”), but I didn’t think I could go two-for-two with the parking pass thing. I am grateful that these people exist, especially at the college where students invest a lot of money to obtain their education.

I had the opportunity to pass on this gesture this past spring when I was parked in another parking lot at the college and overestimated the amount of time I needed. When I asked the people in line at the ticket dispenser, they were bewildered by the gesture and declined. But as I was making my way back to my vehicle, one of them jogged up to me and said that they would, in fact, take my ticket. I smiled, took it off the dash, and felt a warm feeling inside from doing a good deed.

Have you encountered generosity like this from a random stranger in Lethbridge? Do you make efforts to be generous to people you have never met?

e-Etiquette, or lack thereof

My first college experience started in the fall of 2001. At that time, you rarely saw a cellphone or mp3 player in anyone’s hands, be it an instructor’s or a student’s.

Nine years later, these devices are perma-glued to practically everyone’s hands or ears as you roam anywhere on the Lethbridge College campus or even at the malls or a street in downtown Lethbridge. There’s no denying or escaping the progress technology has taken in the last few years. Nine years ago, I never wanted to be known for owning a cellphone, but, alas, now I too can go-go Gadget iPhone.

If you attend or work at the college, there’s no doubt you’ve seen the off-limits signs for where you can’t have your phone turned on or are discouraged from using it in certain places. I’ve noticed these signs make people believe they are more like guidelines than actual rules you need to follow – but I wish people would. Places like the Information Commons in the Instructional Building or the library – a place you would think would be quiet by default – have been tainted by the beeps and boops of non-silenced cell phones and other electronic devices.

There was one day I was in the Information Commons for a couple hours catching up in one of my classes. Someone’s text alert went off. Thinking that the owner just forgot to silence their phone, I continued on with my work. The same text alert sound went off again two minutes later. Then again a minute later. I realized that this person, either illiterate or ignorant, disregarded the signs entirely and decided that knowing they had a new text message by an audible alert was more important than worrying about bothering others around them. I never looked to see who this person was for my back was to the sound, but I found it rather inconsiderate and very annoying. The signs that advise you not to use your cell phone in the Commons are posted on almost every pillar and wall, so there is no excuse.

This inconsiderate lack of e-etiquette isn’t constrained to the college campus, as I’m sure a lot of you have come across in your daily lives. One that surely bothers me has to do with being on the receiving end of rudeness as a customer service representative. I work a cash register at a local food establishment on and off many times throughout a shift. To properly take someone’s order, I’d love to have their undivided attention, and I believe they would like the same in return. I’ve had a few occasions where someone has come into the establishment mid-conversation with someone on their phone, but they would also like to make their order while doing so. They proceed to order in between “uh huh”s and “yeah”s, and when I read back their order they say all is fine till they receive their order and there is a discrepancy. I’m sorry, but I did read the order back to you, you just weren’t exactly all there at the time. You still aren’t since your “uh huh”s and “yeah”s have turned into low grumbles about how the “stupid girl” at the counter got your order wrong. (!!!)

Thankfully I’ve encountered others who also come in while on a call, but either tell their companion on the other end they have to go or to hold on a moment while they place their order and pay. These people, boy, these people I like! If I could give them freebies I would! I’ve seen photos on the Internet of signs placed at cash registers asking customers to finish their conversations before ordering as a sign of respect. I’d love to mention that to my manager for us to put up at our store, but then again people shouldn’t need these signs. It’s common knowledge, common decency… heck, it’s COMMON SENSE!

I have to agree with a wise, modern day sage by the name of Phil DeFranco: common sense is dead.

How I spent my Lethbridgian vacation

I’m sure I’ve had to write one of these essays a few times in grade school, but I think the excitement level here will be a little lack luster. Summer just doesn’t hold the same promise of freedom as it used to. I blame the fact that being an adult isn’t as nice as I thought it would be, what with all the responsibilities… blech!

So what have I been doing that has made me so busy and pulled me away from the blog? Last time we saw our hero (i.e. me) she was unemployed and searching for what to do next with her life. The last two jobs I’ve held were administrative assistant positions. I absolutely love working as an office administrator! Aside from the insane amounts of stationary I get to be around all day (for I am a stationary aficionado), I enjoy keeping order, doing data entry, and most of all I LOVE accounts payable work. When I was younger I never thought I would want to have a career where I had to use math, but office math I can handle… just not to the point where I’d want to be an accountant.

While unemployed, I would scower help wanted websites and the classified section of The Herald, and I kept finding myself feeling defeated since most of the ads I was attracted to asked for a 2-year Office Administration diploma as well as a year or more of work experience. I have the work experience, just not the piece of paper. Thus I have decided to go back to Lethbridge College and get that darned piece of paper and get the jobs I want!

I decided to work two jobs over the summer to save up a little for the two years of education ahead of me and then apply for student loans to help me with the rest. Between one workplace and the other, there wasn’t much time in between to devote the time I wanted to the blog — hence the hiatus.

With school starting for us post secondary students today, I thought I would come back and try to give a glimpse of a Lethbridgian going through college a second time.

Riveting stuff, I know.

Since I’ve been through the halls of the college once again, I can already tell you there will be differences in my experience now compared to when I started the first time 9 years ago. I hope to share all these new experiences with you as well as what I experience being a “mature” student.

Thanks for sticking around thus far. TTFN!