Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Not 9 to 5...or just lazy?

I can do office work. I can have, have had in the past, 9 to 5 jobs. Well, not really 9 to 5 jobs, but jobs with Regular People's Hours (RPH)= 40 hours a week, Monday through Friday, going into work between 7am and 9 am and leaving after 8.5 hours with a 30 minute lunch break. Even now I could probably get a RPH job in a cushy office somewhere, and take a night class or two a semester until I finish up. I could pay back my parents fully and start paying down my student loans. I could even get my own place. By the time I graduated, I could even be debt free. There was a time when this was even my plan. But working RPH Oct 2005-Jan 2006 demonstrated to me that this probably wasn't an option for me. Basically, I hated it.

As a side note, when I quite the last RPH job I had, there were lots of crazy depression and personal issues going on and I shut down my whole life for a few months. Because of this, I can't really say if I could have stuck with the last job, if it world have gotten better, if the money would have balanced it out, if I could have balanced that job and a class or two.

What I do know is that I was miserable those months that I worked RPH. While working at the video store I had crazy hours, often closing the store and getting home at 1am, and I had frustrating customer issues, it was more than bearable, mostly enjoyable, until the end and that was only because of the shitty management. When I left and started working temp offic jobs, I was introduced to new levels of boredom and unbearableness. I had worked over six months doing third shift data entry, which was boring and tiring but I could do homework and read novels. I also did temp office work one summer but it was only for the summer, not long-term. But this longterm temp work, the third placement being quite permanent, was hell. Though my jobs were neither physically or mentally taxing, I got home completely wiped out. My mom and I were trying to exercise together at night, in order to be in better health and sleep better at night, etc, but we rarely did it more than once or twice a week. Any real life stuff had to be done after work or on the weekend. I never had energy either of those times. I slept most of the weekend away. I finally understodd why my parents came home to "veg" in front of the TV, not really engaging in what they were watching like I did when I watched and followed a TV show passionately, why they didn't engage in politics or read magazines or want to watch movies that they "had to think about". Sir has been complaining for years about how his parents' blankly sit in front of the TV at the end of the day, because, in his opinion, it is such a waste of time and brain power, but I finally understood after working this job. And though I'd get home before anyone else, I loathed the idea of having to come home at the end of the day to learn how to cook food I didn't particularly like because it was what my parents (read my step-dad) like. He and I had two cooking lessons together. The second and last ended in me telling him to cook it himself because I obviously couldn't do it right, after which I locked myself, crying, into the bathroom for two hours. I think I'd have gladly paid for fast-food or delivery or even a real restaurant meal on nights when I was supposed to cook rather than having to learn how to cook for my parents after working all day.

The job itself was mindless, monotonous and boring. My co-workers weren't great. Where I was working only added to the crappiness. In most office environments, there are windows, even if you don't get to work near them. Also, you can go outside during breaks. The last assignment I had was in a cave used to store documents. Yes, A CAVE. It took five minutes by car to get to our area of the cave. It was almost impossible to get out on breaks and quite tedious to go out for lunch. But, as this was winter, I never saw daylight unless I went out during the day.

After my mind adjusted to the work, the imaginative part of it went off on its own while the other part did the data entry. We weren't really allowed paper or notebooks at our workstations, lest we steal someone's confidential information. I squarreled away a pen and a small notebook in my pant's pocket to jot down notes for poems and story ideas. We also couldn't keep our purses or the book that we kept to read on breaks at our workstations, which was fine except when a computer system breakdown or error left us all sitting there with nothing to do for hours on end. This usually happened at least once a week.

Ok, so that job especially sucked. And I've known a few people who've worked at cell phone company call centers which really really sucked. And I have a good friend who works sales and customer service for a credit card company. She doesn't LOVE it and it sucks when her sales are down and she's under pressure, but it's just ok. But what's really been plaguing me lately, after this latest job, which I did really like, went south, is whether or not I'm severely flawed because of my dissatisfation with these jobs, the way I mess them up, the way I don't seem to be able to just stick it out like others do? I know Sir isn't happy with the RPH he works. I know my mom can't wait to just retire. But they do it everyday. Just like most people do. I'm starting to worder if I'm not just lazy.

Last Tuesday I went to a poetry reading. My poetry teacher from last semester was there. I know she doesn't teach full-time, but I'd never gotten to ask her what else she did until last Tuesday. She said she writes grant proposals freelance from her home and teaches a class or two a semester. This allows her time to write and submit her own work, to have a meditiation practice, and to raise her kids. She said she just wasn't a 9 to 5-er, though she could do it if she needed to, had done it before whne she had to. I wonder if I'm going to be able to find an equalibrium between just being lazy and not being a 9 to 5-er.

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