When Quitting Is Easy

quit

I was instilled with a midwestern work ethic almost from birth.  I washed dishes while standing on a stool, too short to reach the sink on my own, and folded laundry from a pile that nearly as big as me.  My first job was at 14, selling ice-cream cones and hot dogs from a beachside concession stand.  It was there that I was approached one day by a sweaty man with barbed wire tattoo around his flabby arm. He offered to “show me the world” and was quickly declined because I had other things on my mind starting with my next big job at a real ice-cream parlor.

My dedication to work continued through high school, college and beyond.  I was like a monkey swinging through the trees, always reaching for the next job before letting go of the last one.  Each one getting better with every swing forward, more money, time off and less of a commute.  Work gave structure to my life and a reason to get up each morning.  I was never without a paying job, sometimes two, since that first summer on the  beach.

Then everything changed a few short weeks ago with the birth of my son; he became my reason to get up in the morning and not just because of his screaming cries for milk.  I wanted to make him my top priority.  I wanted to be the one to change his diapers, to see his silly smiles in the morning, to revel in his presence and let him know how wanted and loved he is by his parents.

So when considering returning to work and dealing with crippling anxiety at the thought of my little boy in the cold hands of a stranger, I had to come up with a way to stay home with him.  I put my faith in the universe, quit my job and prepared to enter into an unknown realm of unemployment, days filled with infant care, and serious budgeting.   

He is now my full time, 24/7 job.  This new, non-income generating employment has actually cost me countless hours of sleep, an ugly scar from his c-section, and my entire heart in order to care for this being who neither walks nor talks.  He coos and giggles and flails his arms and our bond deepens every day we get to spend together.   I won’t be able to stay home forever, but right now, this day, this moment is all that matters.

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Professional Avoider 

The phone lights up and vibrates next to you, taking on a life of its own. You knew it would at some point today, but didn’t expect it this soon. Or maybe it wasn’t soon enough. You wonder about the delay. Really, what took so long?

You have to face the music, or do you?

Don’t be a chicken-shit, you try to bully yourself into answering.

As much as you want to do the right thing, accept responsibility and talk things out mature adult style, you can’t bring yourself to hit the “accept” button. It’s not even a button, it’s just a glowing green circle on a screen.

Swallow hard and take a deep breath. The crisis dies with the unanswered call.

Now, you have time to form a game plan, a better game plan than you came up with thus far. However,you must admit, the whole don’t-give-any-answer-and-avoid-all-potential-conflict strategy worked perfectly at securing another few consequence free hours.

Another buzz disturbs your relieved thoughts.

You have a voicemail.

Nausea overwhelms your senses and you consider the possibility that you aren’t really a people person, after all.

Working from home

lightning
Each time I hear a roll of thunder, I hold out hope that a bolt of lightning will strike the bulldozer outside of my window.

I whisper a secret prayer that it kills the machine dead in its destructive tracks at it tears up the road in front of our house. The noise is growing close to insufferable with the grinding of gears, the scooping and dumping, and the voices of the men in charge of the operation.

Now, the storm has passed.

The thunder stopped, lightning never struck, and the road work continues.

I curse the sky.

There is no justice in this world.

Prioritize

the three i’s
have decided
that we will
work no longer
much to the
distress of our
dear, darling husband

Sensitive Subjects

Sensitive Subjects

Band-aid-left.gif

I’m pretty sure everyone has an emotional tender spot.  It’s the one area that never quite healed up or formed correctly and the slightest nudge is enough to send shooting pains into the heart and wrap a web of shame around one’s brain.  Some people have more tender spots than others, and some tender spots are tenderer than others.

For me, it’s the mention of my employment history.  The mere suggestion at past jobs and reasons for leaving makes me shudder and the feeling of nausea rises from my stomach and into my throat.  I have to swallow back bile at the thought of explaining the whole mess and hang my head low so not to meet anyone’s eyes that might carry disappointment in them.

The past is the past and this is the present.  No need to dwell.  We are here now in this moment and in this day and that’s all that should matter.  Don’t worry about if I am going to leave but rather focus on the time that I stayed.  Sort of Buddhist-like and forward thinking of me, right?  As it turns out, most employers do not share this way of thinking with me.

This has come as quite a revelation to me.

It has also made me acutely aware that I may not be cut out for the working world.  Yet, somehow bills keep appearing in the mailbox making it clear that I either need to start playing the lotto with the hopes of a big win or that I need to shape up and stick with a job long enough to let the tender spot toughen up.

For the Love of Money

I don’t really love money, but I need it to live. I like the way dollars smell and the weight of coins in my pocket. When dollars and cents are regularly deposited into my bank account, bills get paid, food fills the refrigerator, and I might get a new pair of shoes.

The money appears silently with the magic of technology. I go to sleep broke on Wednesday and awake rich on Thursday, all without ever touching a single cent. I especially love to wake up on Thursday morning, flick open my banking app, and confirm the magic happened overnight, again. The experience is kind of tooth-fairy-ish in the way I expectantly go to sleep the night before, almost certain what awaits me in the morning.

The ease and convenience are incredible but there is a trade-off for satisfaction. There was sense of completion after working for a week or two and then picking up a check or tidy little pile of bills. A paycheck was something to hold and tuck away until it could be cashed or saved. I used to take a special trip just to drive to the bank with my paycheck, gossip with the banker, and make my deposit. I could leave with a few crisp bills in my hand and save the rest for a rainy day.

Now, I work all day at a job with nothing to show at the end of the day, aside from a pile of papers and a gaggle of needy clients. At the end of the week, the money appears electronically, and still I have nothing to show. There isn’t even the option to receive a paper check at my current work place. My well-being is based on the communication of machines, sending numbers from one imaginary place to another. I could go to the bank for cash, but what’s the point when I can pay for everything with a debit or credit card?

What used to be tangible is now locked away in a digital world without much of a chance to return. I’m not complaining about the convenience of the e-transfers, but I can’t say that I have wisely used any time saved from the elimination of physical banking. Instead, I find more ways to save time with technology and further withdraw from the real world and find myself deeper in the digital abyss.

That’s it for today. Good-bye WordPress, hello Facebook. We’ve got some newsfeed to review.

If only…

“When are you getting up tomorrow?” the man asked his wife.

The man focused on setting the alarm on his phone, while his wife sat on the edge of the bed and pulled off her socks.  She threw the socks, one after the other, to the floor.

“Whenever I feel like it,” she replied without looking at her husband.

The man raised his eyebrows, silently questioning the sock-less woman next to him. 

“I quit my job today and I’ll tell you why I did it,” she said calmly.

The man listened attentively and wondered how his wife had kept her little secret from him for so long.  Usually, she was bursting with excitement when she had a piece of news to share.   He felt conflicted, he was relieved his wife finally did what they had discussed so many nights, but upset that she waited so long to tell him.  I’m sure she has her reasons, he though t and waited.  She always filled the silence if he waited.

The woman continued speaking as she fluffed her pillows.

“They tried to make me work on Good Friday,” she explained with a straight face.

Her husband laughed in disbelief. 

“It wasn’t the guns, gang bangers, bed bugs, drugs or abuse that did it for you?” he asked.

“Nope,” his little wife said, settling down into her freshly fluffed pillows.

She breathed a sign of relaxation.  Her pillows felt perfect as her head sank down, surrounded by downy feathers and cotton. 

“I never minded all of that,” she said, reflecting on the day. 

Her husband propped himself up on one elbow and stared at her in confusion. 

“What? Really?” he asked.

“Yup, the clients were never really the problem.  It was always the management, safe in their clean, little offices, pushing papers and pressing for more rules and deadlines.   My clients were just trying to get by from day to day with next to nothing.” 

She reached over and turned off her bedside light with a click. 

“How could I begrudge them for surviving?” 

The Demoralization of a Work Force

It starts with asking the employees to sacrifice a little for the good of the company, first to share cubicles. According to the man in the bad suit, “There just isn’t enough space for everyone and not enough money in the budget for a bigger office.” The man in the bad suit does not have a cubicle. He has a very large corner office that he frequents every few days. “Guys, this is a temporary situation that’s going to take team work to overcome. We are looking at two maybe three months tops,” he explained about six months ago.

Next, the sacrifices increase with the pressure of guilt- just a bit off the top of each paycheck to prevent random lay-offs. The man in a poorly fitting suit and bad hair asks, “Reach into your hearts (correction: he meant to say “pockets”) and decide if you are able to come together to save the jobs of those around you. The solution is very simple. It would only take a 10% decrease from each of your salaries.”

It’s too bad the man doesn’t know the names of the employees to whom he continues to gesture with his hairy, pale fingers. It’s also too bad that his salary is not on the line and no one is asking him to look into his heart (correction: I meant pockets). His skinny neck and oversized shoulder pads make him look like a chicken, flapping his way back and forth in front of his employees. “Understand,” he asks, “that your case loads may go up and you may have more work, but hang in there. Think of the clients who will be helped by your sacrifices. Always remember, without you, each and every one of you, none of this would be possible.”

He is right; it does take each and every one of the employees to keep the ship afloat and sailing forward. Dare to speak up and prepare to walk the plank. The lucky dissenters have a life boat (savings, second job, wealthy spouse) patiently bobbing back and forth in the waters below; while the rest are forced to hold their tongues. The ones who are left behind meet in the shadows to whisper rumors and plans of escape or silently accept their fate of sacrifice.

The final blow is in the refusal to celebrate social work month – so as not to offend anyone who is not a social worker. A decision made by a faceless board to prevent hurt feelings or to prevent the unification of the work force in pride of the profession, and to mar the bond over the joys and sorrows of the field. What can be said of this decision? Nothing, silence is golden when sacrifice involves everything.

Guide to mastering a job that any monkey could do

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  1. Don’t think about it too much
  2. See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil
  3. Keep plenty of bananas on hand
    1. The fruit of the banana is a quick pick-me-up when you’re feeling low about doing the job of a monkey
    2. The peel of the banana is good for comedic relief.  Try throwing the skin down in the break room next time your boss comes through and isn’t paying attention, just to see what happens (hint: you might not have to come to work tomorrow)
  4. Keep a careful watch out for energetic young workers who get hired to do the same job and begin to secretly train them on rules 1-3
  5. Remember, if no one tries too hard, then everyone looks good

*Note: List compiled by a disgruntled human doing the work of a monkey that no monkey would agree to do

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