I’m grateful to have a roof over my head, no outstanding debt, and to have food on my table and health insurance when I need it. That being said, there always comes a time in one’s life when you know it’s time for a break: A nice vacation, a “stay-cation,” or maybe even a career overhaul. For me, that time is now and believe it or not, jeans were my tipping point. Among other things, of course, but jeans. In a time where one of the most racist, openly bigoted, and narrow-minded people stands a chance at being the leader of the “free” world and people are (passionately) arguing over who qualifies to use which bathroom in public places and an ape had to die when a toddler entered his enclosure, I have to wonder why it’s a big deal that I not wear jeans to work on Monday through Thursday. They’re jeans, not a speedo. They cover my butt, keep me moving, and would let me feel comfortable in a place that otherwise makes me want to gnash my teeth. Seriously, I’m so tired pretending to be happy in my crappy corporate job. Forgive my ranty rant, but here’s the truth: I might have to play the game, but I DON’T have to like it!
I Might Have To Play The Game, But I Don’t Have To Like It!
Believe it or not, here are just a few of the things I have to deal with day in and day out:
If I’m sick, why do I have to fill out a one-page form (by hand) asking permission, retroactively, to have the previous day off upon my return? “Dear Boss, can I have yesterday off, please?”
And, how does the general manager of a company have time to do inspections of each individual’s desk to determine if you have contraband or too many office supplies in your supply bin? By the way, I was marked up for having 3 black pens in my possession (apparently, one too many), two highlighters of the same color, and an extra stick of staples. (Seriously. I had to return my excess supplies to the general supply cabinet.)
I wonder, “Does anyone else have a pre-meeting meeting and a post-meeting wrap-up?” I’ve had an office job for the bulk of my 15 years in the workforce and I have never seen so much resource-wasting, red tape. I’m starting to think my little corner of Corporate America has turned into a microcosm of our government when it comes to moot issues and circular discussions that never come to any productive conclusion and the takeaways are busy work (read: paperwork), rather than process improvements.
But, aside from going along with all of the non-value-added tasks just so you can get to the actual meat of the job, the stuff that makes your company the big bucks… there is a far darker aspect to life with a commuter job: social obligation. I am not a “people person.” So, I try to select jobs where this doesn’t impede my productivity or become an absolute roadblock in the way of any form of advancement. I do not take sales jobs. If you don’t want to buy whatever it is, I certainly don’t feel the need to talk you into it. I don’t take phone jobs. I don’t even like answering my own phone… Why would I ever want to be on a phone all day long? And, while I have to give props to anyone who can work in retail or in the food service industry, I could never do it myself. I’d be fired on Day 1. “Could you help me find…” “NO.” “Excuse me. My chicken is a little dry and..” “SO?” Even in a run-of-the-mill data entry, number-crunching, or writing job, there is still more social interaction than I’m comfortable with.
A horrible thing that has cropped up in a couple of my office jobs: Team building activities. What in the world? I show up every day, I get my job done, and you “reward” me with the mandatory social obligation of indoor rock climbing with a sampling of the least healthy people in the world? I didn’t do anything wrong. Why do I have to stand around with my least favorite people and watch Todd from Customer Service attempt to huff and waddle up a vertical wall while his poor spotter (some nameless girl who works the switchboard) sweat and shake as we watch Todd’s crack peek out from the top of his spandex bicycle shorts from the 90s? I have grown to call these mandatory activities “Happy Fun Day–OR ELSE.”
Another thing my company does, in lieu of a cash bonus or gift card or something useful: The hotdog lunch. Nothing is so motivational or so rewarding as a mandatory lunch consisting of tightly packed mystery carcass encased in intestinal lining with a bag of chips while I listen to Corporate drone on about how our numbers are “good,” but could always be better. How else would I rather spend that single span of 60 minutes (my lunch hour) where I could have felt like a person again?
Certainly, no one said work would be fun. But, no one warned me I’d have to fake a smile all day, endure a host of “Good mornings” just to navigate the cubicle areas to get a cup of cheap company coffee or come in on my birthday to a balloon-filled, confetti-sprinkled workspace from Hell. Look, you already have my 40 hours a week, one-third of my 24 hours in a day, during the prime of my life. Do you really have to add the demeaning, mortifying (and often unnecessary) aspect of social interaction?
Ultimately it comes down to this: a job is a job, just that. It doesn’t define me. I am NOT my employment. Would life be more fun if I loved my job? Sure. But is there ever going to be a job I love as much as being home with the fam, or going on vacation, or simply sitting in a relaxing tub and reading an amazing book? Probably not. The truth is loving your job doesn’t matter as much as you think. Showing up every day. Figuring out how to make it through…those things matter. The rest is only a means to an end.
Until I win the lottery or become the heir to the fortune of an estranged, wealthy family member I never knew I had… Yes. Yes, I’ll play the game. I’ll smile, I’ll attend the pointless meetings, and I’ll even pick up the free motivation-filled hotdog lunch. You’d better believe that I’ll be taking those breaks, the vacations and the “stay-cations.” If I don’t, I’m afraid we’ll all be on the news and my jail days will be filled with a different, less tolerable form of mandatory social interaction. Remember, kids: Bail is expensive…voodoo dolls are cheap.