I just finished my first day of work with the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas.
Arriving on Monday to the multi-story professional office building in glitzy downtown Silver Spring, I was greeted by friendly, welcoming faces and a tour of the third-floor office suite we occupy.
First stop, my office, which had my nameplate already by the door and a bouquet of flowers and a set of business cards for me on the top of the desk. There are big windows behind my desk, looking out onto a shopping plaza parking lot, with sun streaming in in the mornings to create a lovely, warming hothouse effect. (Wait until summer, and I’ll be escaping to the window-less sitting areas.)
I’ll return some Saturday, when I can safely park my car in the lot for a short while, and stock the bookshelves and hang prints on the walls to make it my own. (The shopping plaza actually employs parking lot watchers during the week who take photos of people parking their cars there and walking to the nearby Metro station, and then tow those cars away. The Sisters say you often see a couple of tow trucks there each day.)
My office is right off a library, where in addition to theological, spiritual and social justice materials there’s a collection of novels that people leave for others to enjoy. Around the corner is “computer alley,” a nook with a set of printers and copiers.
Further down in the other direction is a dining room and kitchen. (My co-workers at Catholic Charities would salivate at the kitchen, where there’s room for several people to prepare their lunches at the same time, in contrast to the tiny galley kitchen there in Albany.) And there’s a dishwasher, too. I’ve made a promise to myself to sit out in the dining room for lunch with others each day, rather than eat at my desk, which had become my habit at previous jobs.
The bathroom, unfortunately, is outside the suite in the main hallway outside the elevators. That is very cumbersome considering that you need a key to access the bathroom and the same one to then access the offices again. You have to remember to carry the keys around with you all the time.
I’m just waiting for my first time coming in on a weekend, when you have to disarm the alarm system, and setting it off before I can enter the passcode. I still recall with shivers when I set off the alarms at Schenectady Inner City Ministry and was shaken by the loud noises that went off.