I don’t really know what to do with myself right now. I found out yesterday that one of my friends died. I like to think that I’m good at dealing with stuff like this. But this was very jarring, and very sudden, and she was only a few years older than me. When my roommate came home from work yesterday and told me I didn’t know what to do, so naturally we got wasted. In my drunken stupor I sat in bed staring at a blank blogger post, because in times of trouble I generally turn to writing after alcohol, but I didn’t know what to say. My head isn’t spinning now, and I’ve decided instead of talking about how horrible this is it would be better to write about all of the awesomeness that was Joelle Compton.
I started working at my job in March 2010, a simple dog kennel attendant cleaning up shit and playing with my babies. Joelle was one of the management staff, and also in charge of enrichment and socializing of the animals. She often came down my way to arrange playdates with the dogs, and start training the puppies on leashes and socialize them with some of the older dogs. She was so good with them, she knew every dog’s personality and what toys they liked and who their relatives were and who their best friends were.
I took an instant liking to her, and was especially impressed the one day that she spied my tattoo and knew Ignignokt from Aqua Teen Hunger Force. Coolest manager ever.
About six months into working there, I wanted to become a team leader. I wanted to train people, and help out the management in any way I could. I talked to them, and Joelle was the one that got the ball rolling for me. She put me through all the steps, the time studies and the cross training, and got me the chance even though normally people have to wait a year before they can apply for the position. When the owners asked if there was any kennel attendants doing exceptionally well that deserved a raise, Joelle suggested me, and when she told me that she coupled it with a hug. I was so excited, and she was excited for me, and it was awesome.
She was the heart and soul of that place, aside from her absolute connection with the animals, she was so consistent with the employees as well. She always made sure to tell people when they were doing a good job. Every day when people would come in to get their morning sheets she would say good morning to every single person, that little bright kickstart to the day. At the end, she would say thanks as people were dropping off their sheets, thanks for coming in, thanks for working so hard, thanks for taking that old dog for a walk because he really appreciated it. If we were short staffed and everyone had to bust ass to clean extra rooms, she would personally thank everyone for their hard work, and then bring in timbits the next day.
I had my issues there, everyone does, but Joelle was the motivation that kept me positive and wanting to do a good job there. She was the only one in management that I felt comfortable going to talk to about things in the colony, because she was always understanding, never condescending, and she took my opinions and problems into consideration and then discussed with me both of our ideas on how to fix them. She always relayed them to the right source and got to the bottom of things.
When I was looking to get a dog, Joelle and I talked about it at great lengths, and she gave me all kinds of tips about breeders and what to look for. When I finally found Izzy, she was so excited for me. On the day I got her I drove to work on my day off hoping to catch my mom before she went in so that she could meet her, and Joelle ended up coming up the laneway at five to eight. She was fifteen minutes late that day, and didn’t care because she was so excited to meet my new little girl. She kept gushing about how beautiful she was. I apologized for her lateness but she said that welcoming Izzy to her new life was more important than clocking in on time.
Close to Easter, Joelle asked me if I’d be interested in taking Izzy to an egg hunt for dogs. It was the Saturday of Easter weekend and she wouldn’t be able to make it because she had to work, but thought that I would be interested. It was to raise money for a company that raises dogs to be companion animals for autistic children. I researched the shit out of it, and my heart grew ten sizes reading about it, it was such a good cause. Joelle pledged money for me, and I got some other donations. I asked Emerald if she’d like to come with her kids, because I figured they’d have more fun hunting eggs than Izzy, and we went and had an awesome day. Izzy got to meet all kinds of awesome dogs, we hunted for eggs, we got a bunch of prizes, and the autism dogs got a ton of donations. Joelle was so appreciative and so stoked when I told her all about it, and I remember thinking “what an amazing person”. She could have just said “oh well, maybe next year”, but she so badly wanted to contribute that she asked me if I wanted to go instead. She also knew that I was always looking for things to do with my little girl.
When Joelle went on sick leave for the first time, it was like a piece of the building was missing. Nobody even told us she was leaving, she just wasn’t there for a while. Rumours went around that she was sick, and at one point I decided to ask one of the other managers if she was coming back, because after a few weeks I was worried. I believe my exact words were “I don’t want to be nosy, but is Joelle coming back? I miss her.” I was assured that she was coming back, she was just on leave.
When she came back, there had been some nasty rumours flying around as to where she’d been, because we’re a small staff and some people can be terrible human beings. I did my best to diffuse them, because even if they were true, it was nobody’s fucking business, but we had all just been told that she was sick. It was an angry time, and I felt bad for her when she got back because it didn’t take long for her to catch wind of such rumours. She was a little jaded and seemed unhappy, and at one point during the day I cornered her in a dog room and gave her a hug. I told her that I was so happy she was back because this place wasn’t the same without her, and I’m sorry that people are assholes and don’t let it get to you because I know that whatever happened was your business and I appreciate the shit out of you and I was worried and I missed you. I think she was surprised, but she hugged me back and thanked me.
She later told me, throughout multiple sick leaves, why she was so sick. I hadn’t needed justification, but it made me even angrier that other people did. She took a lot of shit inside and out of work, and the fact that she managed to still make nice made me respect the hell out of her.
Joelle didn’t deserve any of this. She was such a good person, so fun, so positive, so genuinely nice, and she had a fucking horrible run of things, and now she’s gone. And it’s awful. Things like this are always so terrible, but it’s different reading about it happening to someone you don’t know, and then having it happen to someone so close. I wish I’d have spent more time with her outside of work. I wish I had told her more times that she was appreciated. I wish so many things had happened differently for her. But none of us can change the past.
I’m going to miss you, Joelle, I’ll never forget everything you did for me, and everyone else around you. You always said you wanted to come to see me play sometime, so before I totally lose my shit again, I’m going to end this post and play my guitar for awhile. Never in my whole life have I wished so hard that I could turn back the clock.