November 18, 2003
November 18, 2003 - 2:25 p.m.
Today at lunch, slurping away at my spicy curry soup and stitching together the mitered square bag, I listened as two co-workers discussed minivan choices. For the third day in a row. It sparked one of those "what the hell am I doing here?" moments, when everything familiar around whirls into the strange. I felt as though Andy Warhol was about to leap out of the walls, laughing. The conference room (we have no break room - our refrigerator is in the women's restroom, for fuck's sake) shrank down to pinhead size, and me with it.
We all feel, from time to time, as though we don't belong. As if the world simply isn't meant for us. So after my incredible-shrinking-room feeling, I sat down and made a list of everything that ties me to this workplace. In past jobs, there have been motivators outside a paycheck: the people I worked with, the sense of being good at what I did, a feeling of doing something valuable. (Hey, work for enough non-profits and you can salve your conscience an eentsy bit.) There's none of that here. Though I get along reasonably well with everyone, there are exactly two people from the office I'd miss. Both of them are temps. What does that say? As for the work itself...let's be honest. Trained monkeys could do most of it. Of course, then they'd get pulled off that all-important project of re-writing Hamlet, but the world will forgive me.
So do I want this job? The answer is still yes - beyond a paycheck, beyond needing health insurance. I see immense potential here. They desperately need people like me who are good at problem solving and can think creatively. They just don't know how to put us to use.
Everybody has to earn enough money to live. Think back to your high school psychology class and Maslow's hierarchy. It's only after we've dealt with the basics of food and shelter (and, let's face it, reproduction) that being human gets complicated. I chose to return to a full-time job, closing down a business that I loved, because the pull of stability was too great. Health insurance was out of my reach. I was worried about what would happen when the car broke down, or when the IRS found out that only part of my business (being a personal chef) was legal. These stressors overwhelmed me and forced me into a decision.
As I've said before, I've been given two professional options. Neither are appealing, and one sounds like prison. But this time around, I refuse to be pushed into a choice that isn't good. Last night Miss Beek and I played poker with the boys. I held my own quite well, and though I lost at the end, the game brought an unexpected clarity about my job. Here's the thing: these people don't know who they're dealing with. I bought a house before I was 20. I owned a successful business before age 27. I'm stronger now professionally, personally and philosophically than ever before. Am I really going to let a couple of badly educated, self-help-book-reading bitch administrators decide what I can and cannot do?
No. Instead, I'm going to start a small war. It'll be polite, and it'll follow rules of engagement, but sooner or later, they're going to cave and give me some of what I want. You see, they need me. I'm the only one who will work for Boss #1. I'm the only one who knows how to run recruitment and event planning. I'm cross-trained on three-quarters of the office. Quite simply, it would cost them too much if I left. There will need to be changes for me to stay. More money. Ownership of projects. Follow-through on their promises.
Tie down your valuables, folks, 'cause it's about to start stormin'.
Comments: Speak your piece!
former / latter