When Isabelle Lucknow’s boss told her that he was promoting her to the position of Team Leader, she said what he expected her to say:
“Thank you! I’m both flattered and humbled by the offer.”
Then she said something he wasn’t expecting her to say:
“I’m going to have to decline, though. Respectfully, of course.”
“What do you mean you’re declining the job?” he said, more than a little confused. “Isabelle, let me explain how the business world works. When your boss offers you a promotion and you turn it down, you’re never offered that promotion again.”
“Oh I’m well aware of how the business world works, but I’m still going to pass,” she told him.
“But why? Becoming Team Leader is the first step towards becoming a department head.”
“Exactly. I’m happy with the way things are,” she said. “Thanks!”
That weekend over dinner, her boyfriend of one year asked if she had ever given any thought to the two of them moving in together.
“Nope,” she said rather succinctly.
“Really? Not even for a passing second?”
She didn’t even look up from her plate of pasta to tell him no. She just shook her head.
“But, we could get a house, with a big yard, and a dog,” he said, sounding a little hurt.
“I’m happy with the way things are,” she said. “Thanks!”
“You’re happy living all alone? In a studio apartment?”
Thinking Isabelle might be the type who refuses to move in with her boyfriend unless there’s a proposal first, he went out and bought her a flashy diamond ring, then took her to dinner at the fanciest restaurant in town and popped the question. He did not get the answer he expected.
“I don’t get it, Isabelle,” he said. “I offered you a house, my hand in marriage, and all that entails. Don’t you think it would be great to have kids and grow old together?”
“Thanks, but I’ve already done the house and kids thing.”
“It’s because of your childhood, isn’t it?”
“It’s because I’m happy with the way things are.”
Which was just another way of saying, “Yes, it has everything to do with my childhood.”
When Isabelle was ten, her mother decided that she had had enough of her useless, alcoholic husband and the hovel they called home. She packed a bag of clothes, a few toiletries and her make-up, and then left. Without her four children.
As the oldest, it was up to Isabelle to keep some semblance of order in the home or risk Children’s Aid stepping in and separating Isabelle and her younger brothers and sisters. The next fourteen years were spent cooking, cleaning, keeping the yard tidy, doing homework and helping her siblings with their homework. When the last one turned eighteen, she had done her duty as far as she was concerned, and never wanted any real responsibility ever again.
A tiny studio apartment that takes less than an hour to clean, a simple nine-to-five job she can forget about as soon as she gets on the subway, and no husband with needs and demands of his own….that’s her life now, and she’s happy with the way things are.