If you spend any time on social media you can’t help by notice the inundation of posts celebrating the arrival of Friday – as if Friday was actually part of the weekend and not just another fifth of the regular work week. As for me, my #FridayFeeling is largely one of profound disinterest – apathy mixed with a deep desire to be almost anywhere else (war zones and 3rd world countries excluded). Mostly, though, it’s a desire to be at home, with a good book and a stiff drink, surround by fuzzy animals. At this stage of life my desires are modest and reasonable.
It’s increasingly hard to remember there was a time when I was actually ambitious – when I wanted to go places and do things. It’s even harder to remember there was a time when I had the mental energy left over to make those things happen. That’s especially true when the here and now is so often taken up with just trying not to fall asleep during a staff meeting and smashing my face into the table or drooling all over myself.
The problem with doing good work is largely that the reward is often finding yourself with even more of it that needs doing. In exceptional circumstances you’ll arrive in a position of having done so well that a well running portfolio will be taken away and given to someone else so that you can take on a whole laundry list of troubled efforts in order to get them turned around. That’s really the ultimate punishment for a job well done… It tends to be a vicious cycle; spend a few years getting things right just in time to hand them off and spend the following few years getting other things right. Trouble is, you never get to really kick back and enjoy the tasty fruits of getting it right before a whole lot of wrong ends up falling on your lap.
The sorry truth is when it comes to work, I’m not a brilliant seer of the future. I’m really a rather simple sort who’s content enough to put my head down and bull through whatever’s in front of me. I’ve given up any ambitions of being a boss, so I fight where I’m told, and I win where I fight. It’s a simple if not particularly energy efficient approach to getting things done.
In the deepest, darkest recesses of my mind, though, I do sometimes wonder how many cycles of wash-rinse-and-repeat the designated fixer should reasonably be expected to contend with before losing his proverbial shit all over the executive suite.
I’ve spent the last twenty minutes blowing the dust of five posts from the archives and couldn’t help but notice that we’ve worked almost all of the way through 2007. The last of the November posts are up and December has made it’s first appearance. Time flies when you’re having fun. Especially when you’re posting material from before the point when you got the ridiculous idea that posting every day was a good idea.
This week is the usual assortment of minutia, complaints about the onrushing Christmas holiday, and a fun little post from a time in my life when I was still professionally ambitious. Those always make me smile. It never ceases to amaze me how much your Give-a-Shit level can change in six short years.
Enjoy the archive posts and be sure to check back tomorrow for brand new gripes and complaints.
Maybe if I didn’t still have a head full of crud, I’d take the time and effort to come up with a more snappy title for today’s post. Sorry, but you’re not getting that level of effort this morning. I mean you don’t always expect me to bring my A-game right?
The good news from today’s trip into the archives is that we’ve wrapped up the posts from September 2007. September ends more with a whimper than with a bag, but in a blog that’s just a play-by-play of what’s going on in life, that’s to be expected. October is looking a little more interesting so far. The first two posts you’ll see were apparently written when I was still professionally ambitious and not nearly as cynical as I am today. I’d almost forgotten there was a time like that. Maybe once the posts from the archive series is complete I can backtrack through the blog and point to the exact moment when I threw up my hands in disgust and decided to focus on other things.
Hopefully you’ll enjoy your time in the archive today as much as I have. We’ll return to regular programming tomorrow.
The last posts from August 2007 and up and ready for your reading pleasure. Usually these Sunday morning updates are delivered in a five pack, but I didn’t feel right about leaving one post just hanging out there waiting for next week, so you get a bonus sixth post today and I get a clean slate to dive into posts from September 2007 next week. Sounds like a win for everyone involved, no?
A couple of editorial notes on this weeks posts:
– August 24, 2007 is the first mention of what will become jeffreytharp.com that we all know and love today.
– Apparently back on August 29, 2007 I still considered myself young and ambitious. Talk about a few years changing your perspective on things. I’m not quite ready to label myself old and crusty, but my greatest ambitions these days involve getting home to hang out with Maggie and Winston and have precious little to do with life at the office.
Check back next week as we step into the wayback machine and travel to September 2007. I’m sure a good time will be had by all.
1. Comcast. Making the list for the third or fourth time this year is the cable company that everyone loves to hate. Ever since I downgraded my service a two months ago, my bills have been arriving with what I’ll generously call wild inaccuracies. I spent 30 minutes yesterday on the phone with a very nice CSR who thought she was going to be able to make this month’s round of corrections. Except, of course, she couldn’t because the amount of the correction was in excess of $25… which triggered the need to execute what I believe she called an “elevation form for tier two service.” Instead of being transferred to this group of genies, I’d have to “stand by for them to contact me sometime within the next five business days.” I don’t know why I ever hold out hope that anything can either A) just work the way it’s supposed to work or B) Be corrected with a single phone call. Clearly my expectations are misaligned with reality.
2. The five day work week. I’m out of practice with being at my desk for a full five days in a row. I know this because it’s Thursday and the only ambition I have left is to muddle through tomorrow and get to the weekend. It’s not that the week has been particularly busy, problematic, or strange… but the trek from Monday to Friday has just seemed to go on forever. Now if I can just gin up enough oomph to drag myself through three more long weeks, I’ll be all set for the 11-day Christmas weekend.
3. Lunch. When I worked in DC, it was two blocks to Chinatown, one metro stop from Union Station and the Hill, or a 10 minute walk in almost any other direction to find a diverse and tasty array of lunch options. Here in Aberdeen, there’s a Subway, a Burger King, and a few other lunch places that more or less serve the same thing. While I don’t miss the daily 90 minute commute, I desperately miss having some variety in my lunch options. I miss General Tso’s from Tony Chang’s, burgers at the District Chophouse, and deep dish from Armand’s. At this point, God help me, I even have fond memories of the build your own salad bar next door to the office and the hot dog cart set up on the curb. I’m not expecting an urban food environment here in the wilds of north eastern Maryland, but if I don’t find something other than sandwiches soon I may have to resort to bringing my own food… and that’s just not an option I want to entertain.
I was once like you. I was young and ambitious. I wanted to streak up the career ladder further and faster than anyone. For those out there who want to climb, you’re eventually going to reach the point where you’ll be required to make a life-altering decision. You’re going to have to reconcile a nominal pay increase with the enormous pain in the ass that is becoming a first line supervisor.
If you’re even hesitating for a second in deciding whether that’s something interesting to you, let me key you into a secret – It’s not worth it. It’s not worth it at twice the pay. Sure, if you’re lucky there are going to be one or two hard chargers in your group, but most of the rest are going to be average at best and you’ll land an unholy sprinkling of dregs, sociopaths, malcontents, and those whose best service would have been to retire a decade or two ago.
Take a bit of advice from someone who was ambitious before you came along. Find yourself a nice mid-level position, gather the reins of a couple of projects, and enjoy a fruitful career concerned with meeting your own deadlines and being limited mostly by only your own capacity to work. Don’t, under any circumstances, allow them to make you a supervisor, team leader, or any other euphemistic term for becoming part of the problem rather than its solution. You’ll end up looking back at what started out as a promising career and wondering when it became a low-budget shitshow.
Editorial Note: This part of a continuing series of previously de-published blogs appearing on http://www.jeffreytharp.com for the first time. This post has been time stamped to correspond to its original publication date.