1. Ass pain. A sure sign you spend too much time trapped in cubicle hell is that the low-bidder chair that goes along with it slowly starts physically damaging you. It’s not a problem in my nice fancy office chair at home or even in the slightly-higher-than-low-bidder chairs in the conference rooms. Until fairly recently I didn’t even know a tailbone was something that could hurt. I guess you can now add work-related ass pain to the list of things you have to start dealing with as you approach 40 that a twenty year younger version of you never considered.
2. Allegations. We now live in a country where all it takes is the allegation of wrong doing to end a career or destroy a lifetime of work. For all those people cheering the fall of people who “probably” or “may have” done bad things, be careful what kind of world you’re cheering on, because we’re all going to have to live in it. Then again it worked out well enough for the witch hunters of Salem.
3. Junkies. I had my eye on you from the second I pulled into the gas station. I saw the swerving lean on the trash can and then back the other way. I saw your knees seem to buckle, but you miraculously stay on your feet. I’m a little impressed that you made it across the parking lot without getting yourself run over in the process. God, it seems, protects junkies as well as drunks, small children, and ships named Enterprise. I appreciate your determination, but you see, you picked the absolute wrong person at the absolute wrong time of day to ask for a handout. I’m here pumping gas at 6:45 AM so I can haul myself to the place where I exchange my time for someone else’s money. You might try doing the same. You’re a man every hour as old as I am with maybe a few to spare – so I don’t feel at all guilty at thinking that you should be somewhere earning your own keep. In times past, that use to be the defining characteristic of being a man. In today’s world where everything is an illness and we’re supposed to be full of pity and understanding, it’s not fashionable to say things like that. Fortunately, I’ve never been one to give a damn about what’s fashionable. I can’t seem to do much to discourage the state from pouring ever increasing amounts of money down your rabbit hole, but I’ll be damned before I willing give one slim cent to anyone who decides chasing their high somehow entitles them to a living from my work and wages.
1. Breakfast options. I already get up between 4:30 and 5:00 most mornings. Although it’s the most likely real solution to this issue, I don’t want to get up earlier and cook a meal. Still, I’d really like a breakfast option that wasn’t an egg on a English muffin or similar concoction wrapped in paper and passed out a window for people who are up and out before the crack of dawn and don’t laze away the morning before showing up at the office around 9:00.
2. Not asking how high. Jumping on command is all well and good. It’s sometimes a necessary evil, but honest to God, not knowing how high, or which direction, or for how long you’re supposed to do it just leads to and exhausted jumper who’s engaged in a whole lot of activity without much to show for it when the poor bastard finally falls over.
3. Know what you want. I’d hate to even estimate how many times a day someone asks me for something. I’m going to to my level best to deliver exactly what you ask for – unless whatever it was is patently stupid in which case I may ask for clarification or make an alternate recommendation. Still, if you insist, I will cheerfully deliver the product as requested. Here’s the thing, though… If what you ask for and what I deliver turns out to be not what you actually wanted, well, I’m sorry but I’m not feeling any guilt about it.
1. Decisions. I’m theoretically leading a project right now. I say theoretically because every time we get together to discuss it, we revisit and rehash decisions that I was under the impression were made a month or two ago. But no, instead of actually trying to move the ball forward, we want to spend our time going over and over and over and over and over the same damned material. I have to wonder if the weekly outcome would be any different if organizations didn’t send a different representative to this exercise in futility each week. Then maybe we could get a little institutional memory going and I could wrap up a Thursday without without my blood pressure treading dangerously close to stroke territory. All for the want of decisions that actually stick once they’re made.
2. Thursday Dinner. I try to cook a big meal every Sunday – enough so there are two or three days of leftovers and I don’t have to do any heavy cooking after work. By Thursday night, though, even the biggest of meals has either disappeared into my gullet or is just no longer appetizing. As much as a creature of habit as I am, eating the same dinner four days in a row is a touch too far for me. That’s generally how you end up having scrambled eggs and cinnamon toast for dinner on Thursday night. Not that I dislike either of those things, but after a long stupid day something more substantial would have been nice. Sadly, something more substantial would have also required far more effort than I was willing to put in.
3. Guilt. Most nights, especially now that it’s getting dark earlier, Maggie and Winston are happy to snooze peacefully under the kitchen table while I try to combine words into sentences and sentences into complete thoughts. On other nights, Winston tries to be a 40 pound lap bulldog and Maggie somehow manages to wedge herself between my elbow and the keyboard. They’ve been in “needy” mode all week… and while I couldn’t do without them, it would be nice if I’d have bothered to raise more independent children.
1. Neighbors. Tuesday night, one of the strong storms passing through the area cleaved several large branches off a tree in the neighbor’s yard. Two of those large limbs landed squarely in my yard, so after work I got out the saw, cut them up and piled them neatly for burning once they’ve hand a few weeks to dry out. The third of the limbs to come down fell in the neighbor’s yard, but landed in such a way that it snapped one of my fence posts and buckled several rails. Two days later, I’m still looking at that downed limb lying across a crumpled fence from my kitchen window. The neighbors have been home. I’ve seen the kids playing in the yard and I’ve seen their vehicles come and go, but neither of them has broached the subject of the limb, or the fence. We’re now engaged in a great game of seeing how long it takes the neighbor takes to do some basic yard work and if they’ve got the personal integrity to at least offer to take care of the repairs. Given my observation over the last four years, I won’t be holding my breath waiting for either of those things to happen. If the shoe were on the other foot, I’d have addressed the issue already… and therein clearly lies the problem of holding others to the standards to which I hold myself.
2. Standing corrected. I hereby retract that mean things I said about my credit union yesterday. I discovered today that the fault was all mine for making a boneheaded mistake writing out the damned check. Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea máxima culpa.
3. Attempted guilting. Since the office is now officially down to four, there’s apparently going to be a self-appointed chief of attempting to make everyone feel guilty about taking time off, “because then everyone else is sooooooo busy.” Maybe if I were a better person, I would feel guilty. Then I remember that I didn’t create the staff shortage and that I’ve earned every hour of leave I’ve banked over the last eleven years, so I’m going to go ahead and schedule it when I need it rather than when it’s convenient for someone else. I’ve got problems enough of my own without giving in to attempted guilting. Nice try, though.
As a certain Facebook friend of mine is fond of pointing out, I have a bit of a tendency to “bitch about everything.” Guilty as charged. I can’t deny it. I might as well deny the rise and fall of the tide. I like to think my bitching and complaining is the last line of defense; the thing that keeps my blood pressure from spiking to the point of literally blasting off the top of my head. Sure, it never actually changes anything, but it makes me feel better. As I wrote in closing last night, blogging is my safety valve, letting me vent the day’s anger, hostility, and frustration into something like an appropriate channel, or if not strictly appropriate, maybe at least shunting it off into a space where it doesn’t do any lasting damage.
I’ve lived in my head a long time now and if there’s anything I’ve come to know about how I work, it’s that the ranting and raving aren’t the trouble. The real problems come in sullen silence on the days when I don’t say anything all. Those are my worst days – the ones where everything is roiling below the surface. Those days are the hard ones to get through with some semblance of sanity intact.
Today, the sun is up again, the week has careened past its zenith, and mercifully the weekend is coming on a day early. That’s a far cry from saying all is right with the world, but for the time being at least my particular black dog is back on its leash. Don’t worry though, there are still plenty of things that have annoyed me this week, so we’re well on track for tomorrow’s post… because it wouldn’t be Thursday if I didn’t bitch about at least three things.
There are always stories circulating about people who retire with thousands of hours of sick leave on the books. That’s good for them. 3000 hours of sick leave gives you a hell of a lot of credit towards your total years of service. As great as that sounds, I know I’m not going to be one of those people. I’m not an iron man. I don’t play hurt when I can avoid it and I don’t go in when I’m hacking up a lung. For one thing, I know that I don’t bring my A-game when I’m sick or hurt and for another it only seems decent not to wander in and infect everyone else with whatever crud I happen to have come down with. This week has been an object lesson in the former; a great primer for why I avoid playing hurt.
It really boils down to a matter of concentration and focus. When part of my brain is focused on just how damned uncomfortable I am, I’m not doing my best work. Chances are, I’m not even doing good work. I’ll probably never get nominated for employee of the quarter with that attitude, but it is what it is. One of the key lessons I’ve learned on the job is if you don’t look out for yourself, there’s no one else going to take the time to look out for you either. Long story short, yesterday’s post talked about the inevitable guilt that goes along with the sick day. I had plenty of time after writing that post to put some real thought into it – since laying flat on the floor isn’t good for much else than giving you time to think. It’s safe to say that after really reflecting on the last decade, I’m utterly cured of whatever misguided guilt I was feeling for staying put and taking care of me.
The job is happy enough to chew you up and grind you down. It’s your job to do whatever it takes to make sure that doesn’t happen. Here endeth the lesson.
1. Side effects. We all know I’m a fan of better living through chemistry. The problem, of course is that in addition to what various chemicals do to keep you alive, they all come with some kind of side effect – an unintended consequence if you will. The side effect of Flexeril, apparently, is that it it keeps my eyes from focusing on fine details (such as words typed on a computer screen) and leaves me feeling in a constant state of “about to fall asleep.” Neither of these things lead to a happy or productive Jeff, and that’s not a recipe for better living. Still it’s a step up from some of the side effects I’ve read about like anal seepage, stroke, and death. Clearly with these things there’s a very, very fine line between medicine and poison.
2. The reward for good work. I’ve never understood why the reward for doing good work is getting the opportunity to do more work. Wouldn’t it make more sense to say something like “Hey, you did a bang up job on that last thing, so go ahead and take a knee and we’ll let some other schlub carry the water this time.” Of course that’s not how it works at all. It’s easier to find a good horse, ride it until it falters, and then beat it because it stopped. I might not have attended a big fancy ivy covered school of business, but I learned enough from my studies to know that personnel management model is rarely successful in the long run.
3. Guilt. I make a point not to bring the work home with me. Eight hours a day is bad enough without letting it bleed over into the rest of the day. By extension, I try to offer the job the same respect by keeping my personal issues at home. There’s some inevitable bleed over, though. Like today, for instance, when I feel an unreasonable sense of guilt for sitting here with the heating pad on and my feet up at a time of day when I would usually be at the office. Intellectually I get that I wouldn’t really be doing anyone any good sitting at my desk today when I can’t concentrate on anything that requires more than four or five consecutive minutes of thought. I’d be lying if I said I was going to enjoy this time off, but I’ll be doing my level best to get past the idea of feeling guilty for burning off my sick leave on a day when I’m not hacking and sneezing all over the room.