Existential Dilemmas

i hate my job
Today is Charlie’s last day. Ever since he started the office job almost four years ago, he has been secretly planning his escape.

A lot of people I know from there either hated their job, or hate working for the company, but love books and literature and enjoyed the theory of working for a publishing company. Either way, though, it’s never exactly been what some would call a “healthy” atmosphere in certain departments. Like the one where the manager shuts her door and blinds when she doesn’t want to be bothered, even though the whole point of her having that job is because people frequently actually NEED to speak with her throughout the day about issues with books. Or the one where no one ever speaks to anyone else when they pass in the hallways, despite sitting right next to one another all day, every day. Or the one where the creepy troll sits in his dark office waiting for young women to produce folders for him, rather than walking his fat ass to their desks, then ogling them as they stand there uncomfortably. The same troll who’s worked for the company for over a decade but never, in the two years I was there, did he EVER turn in anything on time to me. Ever.

Charlie just thought of it as bread and butter, plus health insurance and paid time off. He’d told me for years prior to that, that he never wants to work in a cubicle, and would despise having a sales job. Both of those things he’s been doing for three of the years he’s been there.

Ever since he first start talking about going back to school (about the time he graduated and got the job), I’ve been totally supportive. I don’t care what he does, as long as he enjoys it or gets something out of it. When he got the sales job and met his incentives the first time, that check was too enticing to leave before getting it. Then he made his sales quota again. And again. Then he made his annual quota, plus another 40%, and he couldn’t very well leave that behind without winning the lottery instead. It was too much money to pass up. Eventually, however, I’ve began telling him “You can’t keep waiting around another three months for another check. You’ve got to quit at some point.” This time it worked out because he was so over his projected sales that they bumped them up exponentially for the next year. It’s like they’re saying thanks for making us so much money, here’s a measly percentage of that half million we got. Now, you have no hope of getting even a fraction of that in the future. Keep up the good work and just try harder!

The idea of going back to college didn’t exactly pan out because he’s not sure he wants to start teaching right away. The primary objective, originally, was to get his teaching degree, on top of his previous BA with a minor in Economics, with an additional minor in, say, history or math. Ideally, he’d coach high school football, then perhaps move on to a college coaching position and, who knows? Maybe NFL when he’s, like, fifty.

Point being, we both tend to go around and around quite often about what we want To Do With Our Lives and both of us have accepted the fact that neither of us is cut out for a “career,” in the sense of sitting behind a desk from 9-5 Monday through Friday, although health insurance and paid vacations are appealing. Just not worth it to have your soul sucked out in a position you don’t really want to do. It’d be one thing if either of us had gotten jobs there that we found fulfilling.

Charlie hates sales, but I didn’t hate my job. I hated being The Bitch No One Wants to Talk To, because if I was calling, it was because you’re late meeting a deadline. I think I was actually pretty good at being nice and diplomatic, while still conveying a sense of urgency about those deadlines. But there will always be people who resent being told what to do. I have considered going back after I graduate, working a few years in editing and possibly doing freelance for a while, if I could, teaching during the days at a community college before I decide whether or not I want a graduate degree.

So Charlie had his own shit sorted out for the time being when the nightclub he works at on the weekends threw an offer his way. They found out he was quitting his day job (his one excuse to avoid working during the week or too much on the weekends) and asked if he would consider becoming their full time assistant manager. The base salary offer sucked, but they also threw in a week of paid time off for the first year (not great, but at least it’s paid), and a certain percentage of the club’s monthly sales.

This threw him off. He wasn’t expecting it so he didn’t know what to say. Of course, my first reaction was No Way, because I’m tired of that place. I haven’t been to a show there in a couple of years because I hate going in there so much and it takes so much time from my significant other. So I resent the place.

Then the manager and owner want him to be there full time, at least four or five nights per week where I’m sleeping by myself. It’s not like I can’t handle it, but I’ve been counting on him quitting at some point in the near future.

So he takes some time to think about it. He went in Wednesday night and turned them down. But I’m still waiting for the call-back; where they offer him five grand more a year, plus an extra percentage of the profits. I hope it’s not something he really wants. The idea of having a more flexible schedule is nice, but the added responsibility would make it so much more difficult for him to ask time off in the future. That’s why they want him full time – so he’ll always be there.

Point being in all of this (I know, convoluted, huh?), it’s funny how we define “success.” A lot of people seem to look at it as only in terms of how much money you make, and how prestigious the company is for which you’re working. If you’re “working towards” something they consider to be successful, it’s okay (for the time being) if you’re doing something “unsuccessful.” Say, working at a nightclub on the weekends to, say, save money to buy a home or move out of the state. Or, say, working in a coffeeshop part time while you’re, say, working towards a college degree.

It’s another one of those situations where neither of us is especially concerned with what other people think, but occasionally find ourselves in conversations where people ask “why” we’re doing what we’re doing and we then define in based upon those people’s concerns. But, truly, who gives a shit? If he’s leaving a job in sales that he hates to work in a carpentry job that he enjoys . . . why is it necessary to qualify it?

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