It’s a little mind-boggling to me how anyone can maintain their sanity working at a job for more than two years. I don’t get it. Or maybe I’ve just been in the wrong line of work. I try to imagine a career where your work tasks are stimulating and engaging with enough creative freedom to keep you thoroughly invested. I try to imagine a work environment that morphs and doesn’t tether you to an 8′ by 8′ off-white cube (florescent lights quietly humming with keyboards click-clicking in the background, interrupted by the occasional irritating idiosyncratic noise). Are there really people out there that forty-five minutes into Monday aren’t thinking “Hey, only thirty-nine hours and fifteen minutes until the weekend”? Sometimes I’ll read a magazine article about the best places to work and underneath pictures of smiling employees playing ping pong in the “game lounge” will be anecdotes about flexible time off to go surfing or energetic brainstorming sessions where input is genuinely valued. That must be nice.
The scale of possible moods at my job falls somewhere in the limited range between complete boredom even while working on a task (best case scenario) to simmering irritation at yet another asinine assignment or pointless meeting (not best case scenario). No high highs or low lows, just middling lows day after day. Days float by without anything of consequence happening and somehow this seems worse than a series of tragically unpleasant events at work. I mean I make the best of it, of course. I crumple up paper (to the irritation of coworkers I’m sure) and fire make-shift basketballs through the Tropicana box hanging in the corner of my cube. I figure out which character from “The Office” my coworkers are most like. I flick paper footballs through fieldgoals. I zone out quite a bit and think of places I’d rather be. Sometimes to get from the basement back to my desk on the first floor I’ll walk outside and loop back up through the front door. It’s all very exciting.
In May I will have been here two years. If I make it all the way to October I’ll surpass my previous longest time at a job (two years, five months). I’m definitely at the point where the soul searching is starting again. I think it’s hard not get contemplative when you’ve spent two years doing something without any passion for the activity. And yes, I get it that that is what you’re supposed to do. Work and save, pay your bills, be grateful happy that you have a job in “these tough economic times”. I don’t really care about any of that though. Life is way too short to do anything that doesn’t make you happy. Sure, I’m not suffering at work, but I’m not thriving either. Life is also too short to waste being bored. And I am bored out of my mind.
Back in ’07 my argument to Mary for moving out here was that even though there was zero possibility of me enjoying an office job, the opportunity to affordably live near mountains and ocean was too much to pass up. We have to at least try it, right? Something new. Glorious weekends would more than make up for lousy work weeks. And really, the glorious weekend theory is still humming along and overall the west coast has been very good to us. I could probably ride out the desk job for another year or two if I choose to. And I might, but sometimes it’s just good to shake up the complacency. Or at least think about shaking up the complacency. Even if it means moving somewhere not so dramatic. The whole economic implosion certainly hasn’t made spontaneity any easier though. Yakima was delayed in feeling the housing crunch, but it definitely has hit now and a buyer’s market isn’t so great when trying to sell a house you’ve only lived in a couple of years. Ditto for new jobs. We’ll keep our options open I guess and see what plays out. We do really like it here, so maybe I just need some summer weather again to keep me occupied and sane.
Have you ever considered being a high school principal? Or athletic director? Every day is new and exciting. Every year there is a new cast of characters, each with more problems to ruin your day then the one before. Your co-workers will drive you crazy. Kids are always finding new and exciting ways to get in trouble and you would get to be the one to find new and exciting ways to punish them. Seriously, Josh. I think there might be a future for you in this. Whenever Russ gets bored in his office, he just walks the hallways until he finds something more exciting to do. it never fails him! And, as a bonus, summers you may have to work but it is usually light days, giving you plenty of time to do fun stuff like surfing and hiking in the evening.
Josh, I respect your patience and tolerance. Congratulations on two years of self-restraint for the greater good. I know it doesn’t suit your temperament or impulses. I’ve spent my share of years in similar cubicles doing what was expected to keep a roof over our heads, to keep you kids in school, in shorts and t-shirts. Wish I had advice or an alternative for you. Life’s always a balancing act, it seems. Finding enough good and meaningful where you can. Enjoy your life with Mary. Enjoy the opportunities you have to run free. Enjoy your pups. Take that paycheck to the bank with gratitude for the homelife it provides you and Mary. Take the long way back to your desk, if that helps–what the heck. Don’t lose sight of the good in your life. Don’t let the cubicle define you. No office can squelch the boundless passion in your soul that makes you uniquely you. Read books that speak to your soul and heart. Work to discover what you really believe and try to live in congruence with what’s most essential. Take care of those most precious to you. Call your mom again sometime–you made me really happy. Better yet, pack up those dogs into the good car, check your tires, and you and Mary make that awfully long drive here to see Mary’s family and yours (me, at least), and let the people who love you see you for a few days and tell you how much we love you!
I drove around in the mountains today. Then I frolicked in some sunny meadows and chased butterflies. I haven’t seen my boss in a week and a half.
And yet I almost feel the same way you do about work…. almost.
Yeah, summers off would be spectacular. ADs work some crazy hours though. At least at the school I’m coaching at right now I see the guy at every home game or tournament (evenings and at least six days a week). Actually being able to walk around as part of your job would be a nice change of pace from all the sitting and staring I do now though. I don’t know, I probably will end up working with kids again one of these days.
I don’t think patience is the right word (“bearing provocation, annoyance, misfortune, delay, hardship, pain, etc., with fortitude and calm and without complaint, anger, or the like”). I am not calm and I’m sure Mary will vouch for the abundance of complaints. Maybe tolerance and pragmatism though. The first year was pretty easy not get the wanderlust, because the tiny pragmatist standing on my shoulder knows quitting a job inside of a year looks a little shaky on the resume.
After a year though I start to think, well, I put in my time I wonder what else I could be doing. But then it was summer and I was too busy climbing things and then it was winter and nobody moves in the winter. But now it’s spring, the best time of year for big changes and new things. So if I can just get through a couple more months and get on with another mountain-filled summer I should be good again until ’10.
Were you actually gamboling merrily? See and you have a perfect job, butterfly chaser, but it still gets old after a couple years. Sometimes you just need to do something new, something that challenges differently. If you want to trade you could come up here and try your hand at writing environmental permits. You will see your boss constantly and read provisions about wastewater containment.
After seeing your work space I’m thinking you might feel better if you have some live plants around – you know – a bonsai tree or something…… And that chair has to go. No wonder why you’re depressed at work – it doesn’t even roll!!! And a big picture of Mary would help..
Jordan you are cruel to your brother. And Josh, really, I think an AD job for you would be perfect. Accept for all the complaining and whining parents you would love it. :)
I tend to kill plants. So having a bunch of dead plants around might add to the sadness. Most of my coworkers have plants though.
We actually have tons off those rolling plush executive ergonomic chairs all over the office. I switched to the more austere seat a few months back because I actually find it more comfortable. I like tipping back, balancing with my toes on the underside of the desk.