I think that time has come.
Work is stressful, all work, not just the particular job you may have at the time. That’s a given, like stars in the universe, gravity, or water is wet.
But sometimes you come face to face with the realization that the place you work sucks so much that it’s altering you, the person. The you that is kind, reasonable, funny, sensual, and decent.
When you realize you’ve reached that point, you’ve got some choices. You can keep sucking it up and do your job (While looking for another one). You can suffer, allowing the job to irrecoverably change who you are, be in pain all the time, and lose that person you were, then changing into someone you never even wanted to meet. OR you can say “Take this Job and Shove it!”
Then you can use your newfound free time to look for a new job, putting all the effort you were using to stay in control, into finding yourself something better to do.
Sad to report I think I’m at that 3rd option.
I’ve grown tired of being tired all the time. I can’t take another person yelling at me for shit that isn’t my fault, I can’t take another minute of feeling like management is looking for some reason to fire me even though I’m doing what the company motto says I’m supposed to do.
I can’t abide seeing the pain and slow boiling anger in my coworkers faces.
I don’t want to be isolated and alone being unable to interact with my coworkers, except via instant messaging, anymore.
I can’t handle my boss telling us in our meetings how very lucky we are to be employed, (The implication being that he’d happily toss us out the door and bring in a bunch of other workers who would be happy to have the job.)
18 months in, and the work environment has gone from being “Not that great” to being depressing, and if not outright hostile, to being a slow toxic poisoning.
There are no opportunities within the company. There is no recognition of experience or doing the right thing. There is only the never ending drone of “Answer the phones, we’ve got people on hold, what are you doing? Oh you’re on the phone, never mind.”
Don’t talk, don’t go to the bathroom, don’t be late, don’t leave early, don’t be sick, don’t make mistakes, don’t look after your children let your spouse deal… You’re at work now. We OWN you!, don’t don’t don’t ….
The place is about punishment of the workers. Management is really big on THE STICK, not so much about the carrot.
I’m seriously considering doing something that is so unbelievably stupid I can’t believe I’m even considering it. I’m considering walking into HR and just handing them my badge.
Things have been getting worse over the past couple of months but the accident catalyzed a series of events that have made working for these people a thousand times more difficult.
When I first started working there, it was pretty good.
You felt like people mostly had your back. You had a hour for lunch, which meant that you could eat out, (Actually leave the campus. San Diego traffic is epically bad! ) On Saturdays and Sundays I’d hop in my car, go to Starbucks and have a more or less civilized breakfast / lunch. I had time to cool down and relax.
During the week when traffic was worse, I’d eat something from the company store, and take a walk on the bike trail that goes through a small wilderness area. It was relaxing and served to reset me from the stresses of the morning phone calls and the whining people trying to cajole me into giving them something for free, as if their nasally “My Chiiiild is X, Y, or Z” was going to move me.
Look, I’m going to take care of the situation without you doing that. Stop badgering me about your fucking child. I had nothing to do with it’s creation or it’s maintenance. I didn’t put that bun in your oven and aside from my respect for life, I have no interest in it.
Take 5 of those calls in a row and all you want to do is scream.
At the time, the annoyance was balanced by knowing that I’d get to take a walk, enjoy the fresh air, and I could commiserate with my coworkers.
Then about 6 months ago, our lunches were cut to 1/2 hour. This was around the same time that a system of “Occurrences” was instituted. Think of them like demerits. If you were late (regardless of the reason, Flood, Fire, Police activity, Mudslide, Car Accident, etc.) you’d get a demerit. and these add up until the magical number of 12. At that point they fire you.
Okay, I see it, but we live in Southern California. The company is in a city that ranks #5 in the nation for bad drivers and driving.
Not really a problem except that the system was, and is, unevenly enforced. If you have a human manager, there is leeway. If you have a manager that is an asshat, well you’re screwed even if you get T-boned on the way to work.
Around the same time, we were moved into an area of the building that was still under construction and almost all of us were sick as dogs Jan through Mar. I mean, they had signs up on the doors warning you as you came in that dust and chemicals being used were known to the state of California to cause various health issues.
I got moved under an open ceiling with an open A/C duct (No grate, just a 12 inch diameter open tube) That thing blew down on me all day every day and required wearing a down coat just to sit at my desk without freezing.
The excuse the company uses is “We’re just growing so fast”
My manager at the time (one of two decent managers at the company) saw this when he came back from vacation and moved me immediately. He was carting the monitor and I was carrying the computer. He was honestly pissed off about it. Sadly, about 4 or 5 months ago he moved out to AZ and I got stuck with my new manager who is frankly… an asshat.
After the accident, I took a few days off. Seemed reasonable, I mean my car was totaled, I was hurt, and it took a day or two to get my shit back togeather. In a reasonable office, that would’ve been no big deal. In this place… well it became literally a fucking Federal case.
Flash forward a couple months and I’m still hurting.
It helps to walk around, and you’d figure that standing up to stretch then walking to an authority figure to ask a question would be ok.
Kill two birds with one stone, get the information you need and stretch out the kinks. In my book that’s a twofer and is faster than typing a message into skype, waiting for a response, then asking another question, waiting for a response, etc.
Well with my boss it’s not. NOW we all have to remain in our seats.
What are we running? Romper Room?
Anyhow, it’s been getting worse and with each passing day it takes more energy to not say exactly what I feel. Yesterday, I was already cruising at stress level yellow. I’d just come back from my oh so generous lunch break (eaten alone, as usual because no-one else has the same lunch time,) when back to back to back there are calls from what can only be described as Nutjobs.
One was a woman on some kind of mission to badger the hell out of whoever was unfortunate enough to answer the phone. (I wrote it off as luck of the draw.) I finished the paperwork and answered the next call.
The next call was an idiot hipster who was crazier than the first person, demanding to know why he was having problems, (of course there are too many variables to give this idiot an exact answer) so my inability to provide an exact answer meant that he had to punish me. Sigh…
The next one was a crazy lady I think I’d spoken to in the past. I remembered her only after she hung up on me hysterically sobbing. Again “Why isn’t this working?” I go through all the troubleshooting and come to the conclusion that she’s not telling me the truth about anything.
I drop back to absolute facts, Device A is communicating properly with device B and therefore the issue is with device C. She doesn’t want to hear that, I can only assume it’s because the truth is inconvenient.
At which point I tell her I’m going to send her a replacement for device C. “I don’t think that’s the problem,” she says choking up.
I reiterate that Device A and B appear to be working and she’s just confirmed it. Now she’s sobbing. I ask how I can help. She replies, “make it work.” As though I have some magic way of correcting the issue across 3000 miles. Then she hangs up on me.
In my head, and it’s my problem, I recognize that. My stress level jumps above redline. I am officially losing control and rage is winning. I realize that the next person who crosses any line with me is going to be the recipient of my full and uncontrolled wrath.
In my head I heard a warning klaxon, and a voice saying, “Warning core breach in 90 seconds, Abandon ship…”
If I felt like I could have talked to my manager, or his lead to ask for a few minutes respite to collect my thoughts, I’d have been OK. But THEY BOTH have me on “IGNORE”. My entreaties for assistance via Skype all morning long have gone unacknowledged and unanswered.
I have no backup or support.
I finish the paperwork to send the sobbing woman Item C. I sit there for a beat or two and realize that I’m exhibiting symptoms of a physiological reaction.
I’m drenched in sweat, my mouth is dry, there’s roaring in my ears, my pulse is pounding like I’m running a marathon, I can’t focus my thoughts and last but certainly not least, I’ve just developed a raging case of the shits!
I take care of the last item first.
Coming back to my assigned seat I get the stink eye from my boss and his underling.
The roaring in my ears comes back louder than before and my gut twists menacingly.
“Right, I think to myself, I’m going to go home to shit my brains out alone.”
I collect my belongings, tell the underling that I’m ill and am going home. I was barely holding the anger and panic in check and probably sounded a bit rougher than I intended.
A bonsai run up the freeway later, I arrive at my little crapshack apartment and spend the next 2 hours on “The Throne”
While sitting there, I had time to contemplate.
My conclusion was that I need to quit that place, put it in my rear view mirror and never look back. Grabbing my trusty iPhone I composed my two line resignation letter and uploaded it to my dropbox account.
“Hey, at least I had the presence of mind to not send it from the toilet.”
I decided then and there I was not going to work today. The jury is still out about tomorrow, although the deliberation is leaning heavily toward sending the toilet resignation.
As I attained a calmer frame of mind, I began analyzing what had happened.
Over the past months, I’ve not been sleeping well. I wake several times a night in a blind panic. I’m tired all the time, either from not sleeping or from the constant stress. I’m becoming withdrawn and somewhat antisocial. All of which is adding up to me becoming less, well… “Me” and generally becoming humorless and very unhappy.
Happiness isn’t something I expect to have all the time, it’s not even something I expect to have 1/2 the time. But I do expect to be on an even keel. I shouldn’t be dreading going to work. I shouldn’t be afraid of my boss or afraid to make a mistake. This job is, after all simply something I do to pay the bills. I’ve never thought of what I’m doing now, as my future. It was just a way to make things happen, to experiment, and to weather the storm of shitty employment opportunities until I could return to my actual Career… Whatever that is.
So I’ve sent out a bunch of resumes / job applications, and gotten a bunch of “Hot Job opportunities” from a ton of fly-by-night organizations that appear to have IP addresses originating in India. Which means they’re not opportunities for me, but I suspect are opportunities for someone in India to steal my identity.
I’ll vet the Hot jobs but am not going to hold my breath on any of them.
I’m actually in a better state of mind because I have realized that I can in fact quit this job any time I like. It wouldn’t be easy and financially it would be a disaster, but it might end up being the best course of action if only so that I can regain my balance. Perhaps it would keep me in a frame of mind that is better suited to my finding something better to do.
I’ve also thought about the risky option of going to my bosses boss and asking to be placed on another team and therefore under another boss.
This option is risky because my boss would of course know that I want to get away from him. It would be a ding on his career, (I know several others on the team have asked to be reassigned,) once I make my wishes known, it could make things a lot worse. But I have the opportunity to simply walk the hell out.
In the mean time for as long as I can take it, I’ll keep collecting a paycheck. Paltry as it is, income is income.
I wasn’t going to publish this piece. I thought it was perhaps too whiny, maybe it is.
I decided to press the “Publish” button because it occurred to me that I might not be alone in working for a shitty employer. If that is true, and someone else is struggling with the same kind of crap. Perhaps it would help to know they’re not alone.
SO the take-away is this:
You don’t have to put up with shit. You are still in control and you do have options, even if you can’t see them clearly.
Check out the employment regulations in your state and see if they have an option where you can get unemployment even if you quit the job. You might be able to get unemployment, because the situation you’re working in is just so bad, a reasonable person wouldn’t be expected to remain in such an unreasonable situation. If your state has regulations regarding this kind of situation, follow their requirements to the letter.
Then if you decide to say “Take this job and shove it” you may still have a small safety net.
From experience, I can say just writing a toilet resignation can go a long way toward helping you regain your control. I don’t recommend sending it while your guts are turning themselves inside out.