I’m as human as the next girl, and I would really like to find my work at least moderately rewarding. For the past several months, it’s been just a big pain in the you know where. And I mean that quite literally too, because for most of my day I’m stuck in a chair staring at a computer screen and clicking my way through infinite varieties of electronic files and folders.
Part of my dissatisfaction stems from changes that were thrust on me willy nilly without any warning. I was upset enough at the time to raise a mini ruckus about the whole thing. Alas, my foot stomping was mostly in vain, because my boss (like the benevolent dictator she is) listened politely and then effectively said, “Well, that’s all very nice dear, but we’re doing it my way anyway.”
On our way out to dinner last night, we found ourselves quoting lines from an old movie that’s quite a favorite in our family. Office Space is one of those satirical, sort of frat-house takes on life as an office worker. Anyone who’s ever spent their days ensconced in a cubicle can’t help but laugh out loud at the incessant memos about the cover sheets on TPS reports, Melvin’s mission to hang on to his Swingline stapler, and (the classic) line from Lumberg, the boss, who ends all his edicts with the phrase, “That would be greaaaat.” When we got home, we popped the DVD in the player and relived a few of our favorite moments. At least it’s comforting to know I”m not alone.
Working in American has taken a whole new twist, hasn’t it? Used to be we thought we could have it all – a good paying job, security for the future, even something called personal fulfillment. But the rules have all changed, and sometimes it’s hard to play along without feeling as if you’re being taken advantage of. I was raised to work hard and be honest, to fulfill my responsibilities, to make personal sacrifices if necessary in order to get the job done. My dad owned a small business for almost 30 years, and I watched him working nights and weekends, rarely taking vacations, doing whatever it took to make sure his customers were satisfied.
So while I’ve been here in Florida enjoying some sunshine and celebrating my son’s birthday, I’ve also been working, doing my equivalent of putting cover sheets on TPS reports. My husband looks askance at me, as he takes his lemonade out to the lanai and I sit here typing furiously away. Right now, he’s feeling (understandably) less than loyal to the idea of working all out for the good of the company. “It gets you nowhere,” he says somewhat bitterly. “I’m here to tell you, nobody appreciates it in the end.”
One of the hardest things about labor for me is finding the right balance. I know I tend to go overboard with my work – whether it’s music or writing or stupid “TPS” reports, I toil away past the point where others would throw in the towel and take some time for themselves. Maybe I do work too hard for my own good, and so the feelings of oppression I end up feeling are largely of my own making. Keeping a balance between work, family, and personal time to do the things I love – that’s the key to staying sane in the modern world.
It’s hard work, but I’m trying to make that happen in my life.
How about you? What’s your work life like these days? Has it changed in the current economy?