We've been delving into my archived daily log sheets from the poop house case and re-examining the mentality I had back then. Today it occurred to me that you have no idea what is going on with me in the here and now.
At this exact moment in time, I'm parked in a starbucks because I got a gift card for my birthday, so the otherwise ridiculously priced coffee-based beverages are not ridiculously priced, and they have wi-fi... The final four words, (counting the hyphenate as one word,) of that last sentence made me cringe a little bit at my own nerdery and poverty.
Sitting here, otherwise enjoying my Sunday afternoon and the "fancy" coffee that doesn't taste nearly as good as the coffee I make at home, I realized that while age might merely be a number, I am in fact getting old. I support this theory with my overwhelming disdain for the small group of eighth graders who just sat down and appear to be dressed in a way that could really only be described as the incarnated lovechild of Urban Outfitters store mating with the ticket line for "Where the Wild Things Are." Seriously... Tie-dyed socks, silver ballet flats, tunic tank tops over long sleeved shirts, and backpacks stitched with patches or other adornments seemingly intended to be ironic or indicate some kind of apathy, but placed in the hands of children who have no idea what irony or apathy are as they sip an over-sugared $4.50 venti house blend because ordering the hot chocolate that they really wanted would've made them look juvenile in front of their cohorts who all secretly wanted hot chocolate too. No twelve year old really wants coffee. They want the appearance of maturity. Which is why I think no one under the age of sixteen should be allowed into a coffee house of any kind, nor should they be allowed to order anything stronger than that aforementioned hot chocolate from the drive through as they ride around in the back of mom's minivan.
If you're too young to work at the coffee house, you're too young to be a patron of the coffee house.
A thousand pardons, my adult bitterness has caused me to delve into an overly-detailed digression railing against the douchebags of the future.
Moving away from my hostility towards the youth that I can feel all too rapidly slipping from my once-firm grasp, I feel the need to expand the picture of my little corner of the world, which means I should probably mention my work life. Work is mind-numbing and soul-killing.
This past week I was offered a promotion, which was, in reality, more of a lateral move, meaning that they wanted to give me additional duties without any additional compensation for my efforts. My bosses were pretty upset when I pretty bluntly turned them down. (I guess they figured I was dumb enough to fall for it, or meek enough to accept it without a second thought.) It took them a little while to regroup, during which time I returned to my office, and my normal workload. About a half an hour later I was called back into the boss' office where they shot my refusal down, saying I would do it 'because they said so.' Knowing that I am not a recent lottery winner, nor a trust fund baby, and that my ability to pay my rent and buy groceries depends on having a reliable paycheck, I relented and said, "Ok, fine. Whatever you want." And as I left the room, deflated and defeated, I found that my previous inklings of displeasure were rapidly calcifying into a solid mass of anger-driven certainty that I will wait them out until December. I will collect my Christmas bonus, and I will promptly tell them where to shove it and march out the door upon securing other employment. Basically, you're not going to tell my that my refusal of your offer wasn't good enough, and that I'll do it because you say so. You're not my mom, and in case you've forgotten, I'm a Northerner. I am not all sweet and demure like the Southern debutantes you're used to dealing with. That's not the type of thing that I will take lying down. My response might take a little while to come to fruition because the job market here is still in shambles, but they sure as hell aren't paying me enough to take that kind of treatment without an appropriately measured response in kind. You can't refuse my refusal with "because I said so" and think that everything is going to be fine and dandy.
On Friday, a co-worker of mine, Bill, and I were the last ones left in the office. The bosses and the other drones had all gone home. Bill came into my office and confided in me more than he ever had previously, and more than I had ever expected. Bill currently occupies the position that they are grooming me to do. The position I am unwilling to take on fully without a raise tantamount to doubling my current salary.
Bill generally comes across as a nice, mild-mannered, sweet, southern guy who will do whatever he is told because it is inherent to his nature. So of course I was surprised when he opened up and unloaded his real impression of things.
Bill sidled up to my office doorjamb, man-bag slung over his shoulder, "Hey... You ready to train with me on Monday?"
I spun around in my office chair, "In all honesty, no. And its nothing against you, but I was told I had to, so I guess we're in it together."
"They told you that you had to? I don't get it, how did that work?" Intrigued, he slipped into my office as though he suspected that someone was watching him, suspecting him of being a communist defector in the making, even though he knew we were the last two people left.
"I told them no, and they pulled the mom-card and told me that it wasn't really up to me."
"Oh." Bill appearing perplexed, I waited for him to process what I'd just said.
"...Wait, you told them no?" The shocked tone of his voice and look on his face told me what I already knew; telling them no simply wasn't something that one did.
"Yeah, I told them that I have ABSOLUTELY ZERO interest in doing your job, and that taking on new responsibilities relating to your job one at a time didn't appeal to me in the slightest. And they told me that it really wasn't my decision and that I would do it because they wanted me to do it."
Bill's face lifted in surprise. "Wow... I think I just gained a new level of respect for you... I don't know anyone else around here that would've had the balls to tell them no. I mean, I knew you were pretty cool before, but I suddenly find myself rather impressed."
"Well, don't be too impressed, I mean, I still got shot down and forced into it anyway."
"Doesn't matter. They know you're not going to just roll over for them, you're going to at least tell them how you feel about it."
"A lot of good it did me." I said with an eye-roll.
"Well, I was pretty sure that you were cool enough to talk to before, but now that you've just told me that, I know I can safely tell you that I fucking hate it here."
"OH THANK GOD! YOU'RE NOT ONE OF THE POD PEOPLE!" A wave of excitement and relief swept over me as I found that I now had a new confidante.
"No. I'm miserable here, and I'm just waiting for my Christmas bonus."
"You're not alone in that boat."
"No, I didn't think I was." Bill shrugged, already having a good estimate regarding the head count on that boat.
"I don't know too many jobs where I've heard such vocal displeasure, and its gotten worse lately. I know I've heard Leslie say pretty much the same thing about leaving. I mean I heard a lot of grousing at my social work job, but there we dealt with poop houses, child abuse, and the constant threat of physical assault, or being stabbed with a dirty hypodermic needle. And as things got worse there, not only was I vocal about my displeasure, I quit that job in a hurry because it made me miserable and I didn't like who I was while I had that job."
"Poop houses?" The look on his face told me he had heard the phrase 'poop house' and despite the fact that it captured his full attention, he didn't really want to know.
"Another time... That's too much for most people this close to dinner time."
Bill nodded and looked relieved.
"While I know that my social work job was worse, and that in the scheme of things this is a 'cushy' office job, one of the things that I have to tell myself to keep me shuffling papers for these assholes is, 'well, at least its not a poop house,' and that's how I know things are bad enough that I need to be looking elsewhere."
"Yeah, I hate this place, and I hate what it has done to me. I am a pathetic shadow of who I used to be before I started here... Which might be why I have started taking interviews."
"If you're waiting for your Christmas bonus, you might be jumping the gun a little bit," I questioned in a more matter-of-fact statement kind of way.
"Well, maybe," he shrugged, "but with the peanuts we get paid here, I can't imagine that any Christmas bonus we get would be good enough to convince me that it was worth it to stay on... Even if it has been a record year for us."
"Its been a record year for us because it's so bad out there. We benefit from a crappy economy."
"Still... You and I aren't going to see any extra even if we are working four times as hard as the other teams. This isn't a company where they show much gratitude to the little cogs that keep the machine going."
"You don't have to tell me... They know there are plenty of cogs out there looking for work, why would they show appreciation for us when we're so easily replaceable?" I questioned as I shut down my computer.
"Another reason to get out of here. High turnover in our position, so no matter what er do, we're never really secure, and its not like there is any genuine room for advancement here."
"Yeah, they threw possible advancement in when they told me I had to take on this 'promotion,' made mention of eventually becoming a team lead."
"Really? You're the first I've ever heard that claim made to." He looked surprised.
"Yeah, but there are over 300 people working here. There are only 5 team leads. And there are a whole lot of people who have been working here whole lot longer than me who would actually want a team lead job... Whereas I can scarcely imagine much of anything more appealing to me than a quick exit to greener pastures."
"Shouldn't be too hard to find a pasture greener than this."
"From your lips to God's ears!" I said, looking to the ceiling, and raising my hand as though he were a preacher at some pentecostal church, preaching about fire and brimstone while handling snakes. I knew he was speaking the truth, and wouldn't have me drinking cyanide-koolaid.
"...But speaking of quick exits, it's after five, what are you still doing here?"
With a smirk, he said, "Milking overtime. I'm approved for five and a half hours this week. I've only got about two hours worth of work over there. But I think we're both ready to be done with today."
"Yep. I'm done with this place... I only wish I was done with it for longer than a weekend."
"I envy your confidence."
We left the office and parted ways, both a little better off, each with the knowledge that the other was professionally miserable, and ready to defect.
Combine that with the fact that I haven't been getting much sleep, largely because my upstairs neighbor seems to find unending enjoyment in playing horrible music at top eardrum piercing volume until 4 AM, even though I knocked on his door at midnight despite being in my pajamas and asked him to turn it down so that the rational and employed people of the world could be up for work at 7:30, and well, yeah, I'm a bundle of joy. The upstairs neighbor compounds my loathing for him by having guests over and not taking issue with them as they drop beer bottles off his balcony and into my shrubs, and drop their cigarette butts between the deck boards down onto my porch.
Man, I'm complaining like an old person... Next thing you know, I'm going to be buying bear traps to keep the neighborhood kids off my lawn.
Sorry if I'm all doom and gloom here. But at least I'm back, and there's a poop house post down there for you.