Sunday, January 7, 2007

Coincidence? I Think Not!

I just finished a book I really enjoyed called The Painted Drum by Louise Erdrich. I was introduced to her writing long, long ago, back when I was a dual English and Psychology major. I’ve really liked what I have read of her writing and that of her late husband Michael Dorris. The brilliance of their work shines no less brightly because of the tragedies in their marriage and family. While I enjoyed the book very much, something that actually has struck a cord for me was a response to an interview question at the back of the book. The interviewer asked Erdrich; "What is the most important lesson life has taught you?" To which Erdrich replied; "Never rationalize anything that feels wrong."

I have long thought of job interviews and dates as having a lot in common. Often you waste your time getting nicely dressed, only to go waste your time talking about stuff you don’t care about with someone you hope you never see again. At least with a date you get free food, or to see a movie or a concert or something. A job interview, you just leave with that whole "I shaved my legs for this?!" feeling. Job interviews are really dehumanizing and soul sucking. I have thought long and hard about what I want to do, and why, and what type of environment I would like to work in. In the past I made the mistake of allowing employers to pay me peanuts. That was dumb, but other stuff was more important, like getting the experience, or the exposure, or having the flexibility to go to school and take care of my parents. Now, like Cuba Gooding Jr. in Jerry Maguire, I want them to SHOW ME THE MONEY! I want to be paid a salary that is appropriate for my skills, experience, and for the current market of like positions. I really do not think this is unreasonable.

Work really stresses me out big time. I’ve had several bad experiences. I think that now that my life is much different, that will not be such a difficulty for me anymore, but I am still feeling increasingly terrified of going back to work. I think I may have developed a bona fide phobia, which is ridiculous, I know. I have very half heartedly looked for a job off and on the past several months. I seldom saw anything that interested me. I really, understandably, and undeniably, needed a rest. Not to mention I have been taking care of a lot of things that needed my full attention here at home. Since I was laid off right at the beginning of the summer, I spent some time at the beach chatting up the local talent. Occasionally I would go on an interview that seemed promising, but mostly desperately wanted to just leave after a few seconds. I turned down a bunch of jobs, some because I did not like the people, some because I did not like the pay, some I did not like the company, one the commute made me say no way. I had a lot of excuses, but I really just was not ready yet.

I have interviewed with a company where I really liked the people, the company, and what they want me to do. I would have the opportunity to fill a newly created position, and build all the processes and procedures in my field or expertise. BUT, well, two buts. One, I do not think the salary offer is appropriate and two I feel the urge to say no. I am not sure if it is because I really want to say no, or because I am just terrified I can't do it, or I will be miserable, or I will over sleep, or screw up some how, or what. Meanwhile, I have a mortgage, and expensive hobbies like heat, hot water, food, cable TV and Internet access. So, I am asinine not to take a job, any job.

Aside from the ludicrously low salary they have allegedly budgeted, I am having misgivings about one of the partners in the company. He seems arrogant, which is ok. I seem arrogant too, but it is only arrogance if you CAN’T back it up. What annoyed me is when he said he could be arrogant sometimes, I said; "arrogance is okay, bullying is what is not okay." He said; "I can be a bully sometimes, if I am not getting my way. Sometimes people need to understand who is in charge." Now, in pretty much any other circumstance this would amuse me. At work bullies are not like bullies in other settings though. They can actually get away with it, especially if they are signing your paycheck. I just have no interest in walking into a shit situation. I truly believe, from long experience, that anyone who has to tell, or remind, people they are in charge, is really not in charge at all, and likely the only person in the room who has not fully grasped this fact.

I have really been thinking about this, as it would be a good opportunity in many respects. I just do not feel the need to thrust myself into a situation when I walk in the door resenting the situation. I know myself. Being paid a trifling salary pisses me off. When I do three times as much work as most other people, that is just not fair. Just because I am flexible and organized, and know my stuff, does not mean it is fair for a company to take advantage of my inability to do anything but kick ass and take names in accomplishing the goals set forth and then some. I am really sick of what the writer of Waiter Rant refers to as the "verbal tip." I don’t want to be employee of the month, or to have a good parking spot. I don't need to be recognized at the company picnic. Who the fuck wants to go to those pseudo social clusterfucks anyway? Not even all the company provided diet coke and M&M’s my little heart can desire, or free hard to get tickets to cultural and sporting events please me. I want my accomplishments, talents, and contributions to be tangibly recognized and compensated. Am I crazy?

No comments: