Understanding Ursula

Ted Coleman was recruited by O'Connell Business Corporation to return to his hometown and accept a senior executive manager position with the company after a twenty-two year stint with a rival in New Haven, Connecticut.

Divorced, Ted was ready for a change of scenery and returning to his roots offered an interesting dynamic having been absent from the area for so long. He still had family locally so it made sense to relocate back to Blue County.

He purchased a modest but attractive ranch in the flats section of Hillsboro and began his second career with O'Connell located in the Hillsboro Industrial Park.

It only took a few weeks to settle in to the new job, establishing relationships with the senior management team and the group that worked directly for him. A woman named Ursula Hopkins was the Office Manager for his division and she was surprised at the independence and authority he gave her.

"Why should I micromanage you?" He asked during one of their first supervision meetings when Ursula expressed her uncertainty at his management style. "You know what you're doing. You're in charge of the office. I trust you will come to me with that which I need to know."

She stared at him for a long moment. "Your predecessor treated me like an underling."

"You mean second rate?" Ted guessed.

"Well, I am a woman," she said sarcastically.

"Just do your job, Ursula," Ted encouraged. "You don't need me second-guessing your every decision."

"I appreciate that," she said with relieved contentment.

"I'm out of the office a lot," he said. "Meetings and lunches and road trips so I'm depending on you to keep the place running smoothly which is why you're really in charge, not me."

"Thank you for trusting me," she said.

She was a serious and skilled woman, always dressed appropriately and modestly, her hair usually up in a bun or pulled back. She was personable but boundary orientated, keeping things in the office low keyed yet professional. Ted appreciated her work ethic and management style and he was glad he didn't have to concern himself with every little detail of the office, knowing that Ursula was in charge of those concerns.

Months passed and while Ted and Ursula had established a consistent and respectful working relationship Ted realized that he didn't know a whole lot about Ursula outside the office. He picked up through various pieces of conversation that she was a divorced mom but that was about it.

At the end of one of their supervision meetings designed for Ursula to update him on the various issues within the office and to discuss any concerns, Ted sat back in his chair and gave Ursula a long stare as she sat across the desk from him.

"How am I doing?" Ted wanted to know.

The question caught her off guard. "Excuse me?"

"As the new guy."

"You're not the new guy anymore," she remarked. "It's been almost six months. You've established yourself."

"Well, how am I doing?" He asked again.

"You're doing great," Ursula admitted. "Production's up. Morale's improved. People are content. Clients are satisfied. You're easy to work for."

"And how are you doing?" Ted wanted to know.

Again, she was surprised by the question. "What do you mean?"

"Everything okay with the job?"

"Yes, I'm very happy here," she revealed. "It's much less stress-free under your management style. We were glad when your predecessor wasn't around but we sort of miss you when you're out of the office."

"Good," Ted smiled. "You're the best Office Manager I've ever had."

"Thank you," she said, maintaining her same demeanor.

"Are you from here?" Ted asked with interest.

"Yes, a Hillsboro native," Ursula said.

"Me too," he said. "Came back after being gone."

"You went to school with my brother," Ursula informed him.

"Who's your brother?" Ted asked with interest.

"Jim Martindale."

"Wink!" Ted's eyes lit up. "He was a great guy. What's he up to these days?"

"He's out in California," Ursula said. "Runs his own small business. Married with a couple of kids."

"Great," Ted said cheerfully.

"I'm about six years younger so I'm sure you don't remember me," Ursula remarked as she stood.

"I should remember your name," Ted said as he stood too. "It's very unique."

"I hated it growing up," Ursula admitted sheepishly.

"How'd you get it?"

"It's a family name," she explained. "My great-grandmother."

"And you were lucky enough to inherit it," Ted grinned.

"My nickname was Cubbie which was almost as bad."

"Why Cubbie?"

"Because Ursula is Latin for Little Bear so my brother dubbed me Cubbie," she sighed. "But that was better than Urs or Ursie."

"Or Wink," Ted said, teasing her older brother.

"He really hated that one too," Ursula laughed.

"There was Saint Ursula," Ted recalled.

"With all the other Virgins," Ursula said with an eye roll.

"And the actress, Ursula Andress."

"A Swedish sex symbol," Ursula said with disapproval.

"And of course the Sea Witch in The Little Mermaid," Ted noted.

"I was unmercifully ribbed for that one."

"Sorry."

"But I grew into liking the name as I got older," she confessed. "It's unique and different and unusual."

"You don't meet a lot of Ursula's," Ted noted.

"Am I your first?" She teased.

"I think so," Ted realized.

"Good," she said with a grin as she headed for the door.

Ted laughed as he watched her go, glad that they had finally connected on a personal level.