Office Fright

The element of surprise is a familiar foe (see previous post). I’ve never quite been able to figure out why I startle so seriously, but many have suggested I seek professional help. I, of course, guffawed in the face of these ridiculous recommendations, but lately I’ve been wondering…

Last week, in the midst of scurry and flurry to hire several new employees in our office, I found myself typing away at my desk. The office is gravely quiet now that students have left for the summer, but I add noise every once in awhile with music or an audio sermon. On this particular day, I was working on creating a reflection manual for our student leaders to use as a resource for service projects.

I like to sit in my black leather office chair with barefeet and a straight back. It’s an interesting mix of professionalism and always a rush to get my feet covered when someone knocks on the door. My direct supervisor has learned from several experiences that a gradual knock is best used to announce his presence. A gradual knock starts as a single finger tap and slowly becomes a full knuckle rap. This system has worked quite well and kept Startled Stella at bay.

So, back to last week. I was absorbed in my typing with my back turned to the door when I felt a strange presence. I turned slightly to the left and immediately shot into the air, let out a serious scream, landed on the ground where I writhed barefooted for a solid minute exclaiming, “Oh my gosh, oh my gosh” to my Director, who stood over me with raised eyebrows and shaking head.

Two colleagues came running into the office thinking I’d fallen or had some sort of strange panic attack. All I could get out at that point was, “I’m so embarrassed.” I picked myself up and my Director expressed his sincere apology for the un-intentional scene.

My fits usually end in laughter and always make for good stories, but I do wonder if I’m harboring some secret fear that needs discovering. Is it possible that I’m really just this jumpy? It is a small consolation that my mother is the exact same way. I hope this condition is merely hereditary. Does anyone else suffer in such a way?

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