Thursday, January 29, 2004

The Office Type

Often I feel like I'm only looking at life in an office-environment only from my point of view. I'd like to hear the perceptions of others.

I feel like I am alone... like I don't fit in. For lack of a better description - this is nerd central. People... men... don't look you in the eye when they talk to you. Pleasant morning greetings in the elevator are infrequent (not that my demeanor in the morning always merits a pleasant morning greeting). Plus I just get this overall feeling that most of these people live mainly inside their minds. A good number of them are terribly rigid and uptight. I don't get the sense that many of them actually 'live' or attempt to experience the 'out-of-the-ordinary.'

The people in my own group (or more accurately the management on the other side of the wall) don't seem too adept at thinking of long term solutions or goals. Documentation and sharing of processes and tools is unheard of. I always hear them yelling at each other to get a quick fix. They don't seem to be in anything other than crisis mode.

This group isn't really big on communicating the larger picture. They don't really talk about anything with each other but their jobs... their immediate responsibilities. Occasionally someone gripes about their truculent child or a busted pipe in their basement. Still, they don't appear to have much time to actually live their lives and therefore have anything to talk about because many of them stay in the office until 1:00 AM. The atmosphere of communication here is very similar to the one I experienced at home as a child. Don't talk about your feelings, and the best is always expected of you. You do your best at school, in your extra-curriculars; you do what you are told. You're expected to work your tail off and not question the directions that come from above. Then on all accounts I should feel at home here... but I don't.

I often feel guilty because I shouldn't complain... I actually have a job. I have an inner monologue that goes as follows:
----Starving children in China don't have jobs!----
***Who gives a shit...
----You should feel fortunate that you have a place to work----
***Yes, and then what... should I also accept the fact that I am terribly unhappy and bored... not to mention I don't really understand or appreciate the type of people who work here. Nor do I feel recognized for what I do.
----You should just tuck it in an take it... buck up little camper, because you know there's an eager face in a 3rd world country who is just willing to take your job at a quarter of what you're paid----
***They can have it...

Then for a brief moment I fantasize about working at a Starbucks and I realize that in this economy we cannot afford to be persnickety and balk at being taken advantage of... and our employers know this. And it makes me want to give them the finger even more. The reality is most corporate employers expect their salaried employees to devote extra hours to their jobs. Also, they expect these employees to take care of the administrative overhead in addition to their project time. After all, we aren't in France. Our company makes quite a to do about the fact that they whole-heartedly advocate 'work-life-balance.' This is mainly a show... Though I suspect other groups probably get a bigger bite out of the 'WLB' pie than others.

A few weeks ago, I had this epiphany about existing in the power structure that defines the work engine at this company... They're fucking with us, they're fucking us in the ass... and they pay us just enough so that we're willing to come back. I'm sure that this is not a revelation of Newtonian proportions in the business world. However, it seemed like breakthrough for me. Strangely, I felt as if I'd found some peace with my situation because I felt that, as long as I was aware of how they were 'fucking with us' I could recognize when it was coming (not necessarily avoid it), but still I could see it and know how I could or could not react to it. Coming to this realization offers some dangerous knowledge...

Someone who's reading this might simply deduct that I need to leave my job because it's making me UNHAPPY. I'm getting there... resume writing and revisions are on their way... of course not the one below. Though, I am curious what would happen if I did send it somewhere (to a job/company I didn't intend to work for) at least it might make someone laugh.... now your stretching it.


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