Sometimes I Miss Jail

I know that might sound weird, especially for those who don’t know I worked in a jail library for 19 years. Jail was not always an easy place to work. Many days could be very stressful. I spent a lot of time trying to get out and was relieved when I was finally transferred.  There are things I miss about it, though.

I worked Monday through Friday and 8-4 when I was at the jail. No weekend work.

I worked alone. I could do things my way and not deal with anyone else doing it wrong.

I worked alone so my day didn’t depend upon others actually showing up for work.

I worked alone so there was no one around to micromanage me.

I worked alone so I could go on vacation or call out sick without worrying about my absence creating work for others.

I could have problem customers removed from the library.

Customers were only allowed in the library for an hour and then they had to leave.

Free lunch.

I worked alone. Have I mentioned that? I love some of my coworkers, but working alone can be very nice.

I was invisible. I mean, I am still basically invisible, but I suddenly become visible when someone wants me to do something they don’t want to do. I was always invisible in jail.

Maybe I can get them to transfer me back to jail…

What Have I Achieved?

A friend sent me a Creativity Jumpstart notebook a while back. I have not used it as much as I should. I get stuck a lot and it is very useful in helping me find something to write. Today’s post is brought to you by life lately and the following tweet she included in the notebook:


I can relate to that tweet completely, but, unfortunately, for a good portion of my achieving things, I didn’t have Netflix to get me through. I survived and even before Netflix TV was a big part of my life.

Mine has been a life of thinking that I would be happier if I could just achieve a certain thing.

Going to college was going to make me happier. I was still an awkward social outcast in college.

Graduating and getting a job was going to make me happier. My first job out of grad school was a contract job with no benefits and a terrible boss.

Getting a real job away from that boss was going to make me happier. I ended up back in jail.

Getting out of jail was going to make me happier It took 19 years, but I got out of jail. I was then in a weird, invisible position where no one respected me and I was still the jail guy.

Getting a transfer or a promotion to get an actual title was going to make me happier. What I got was that a title means nothing and I might be more invisible and less respected than I was when I was the jail guy.

I’ve spent years working toward some mythical place that was going to make me happy. I’m still not happy. I’m not happy because my focus on being happy was too career focused. My career was never going to be the source of my happiness.  I’ve been reaching for happiness where happiness was not to be found. I will never move up in my career if I stay who I am and I refuse to be someone else. At least that is what people tell me.

So, if you need me, I will be in front of my TV watching Netflix and dreading leaving the house in the morning.


Too Monday to Write

I had decided to write something this morning about the reaction to Andrew Luck’s retirement. I have thoughts about that. I just can’t get motivated to actually put them into a coherent post.

I have some thoughts about the reaction to Joe Walsh entering the Republican primary. Again, no motivation to put them into a coherent post.

I have to go to work this morning. I have no motivation to get off the couch and do that either, but mot going to work is not an option, so I will have to get over that.

I’ve been up since 5:30am. I read the paper. I watched two half-hour TV shows. I ate breakfast. I did a little bit of exercise. I took a shower. I should be ready to go. I’m not.

I think it is just a reaction to the time of the year. My daughter is back in school. Days are getting shorter. Summer is basically over. I think no matter how old I get and how little summer ending really changes my life it will still be a down time for me. I think after years of being on school and then having kids in school that end of summer feeling is just ingrained in you and will never go away.

It also doesn’t help that I’m aware of the fact that no one cares if I post or not. It’s not like more than 20 people will read what I write. It’s hard to get motivated to do something that no one cares about. Same goes for work. I could quit today and it wouldn’t matter to anyone. It would probably make a lot of people happy. I’m just a replaceable cog in a machine. I’m not sure cogs are every really motivated. They just work until they wear down and then they are replaced and thrown away.

Maybe tomorrow will be a better morning.

It’s Time to Start the Slide to Retirement Tater

A post came up in my memories today where I talked about how to define myself now that my role as a dad has changed. I wrote that post when my son was heading to college and my daughter was starting high school. A lot has happened over those four years.

My son has now graduated from college and is starting his first real job this week.

My daughter leaves for her second year of college on Friday.

I accepted a new position at my place of work and moved to a new branch.

My mom died(and thus my role as son has ended)

That’s a lot in four years. The job and mom thing were just a month or so apart.

I still struggle with the thought of what defines me. I’m still dad, but I go weeks without seeing my kids. I go to work, I go home, I read or watch TV and then I start all over again. I still don’t want to be a person who is defined by my job, especially since I’m not sure anyone respects my job or my ability to do it. Also, I will no longer be doing this job in six years or so. I don’t want to be that person who struggles with retirement because my life has been defined by the work I do. So, the question is where do I go from here?

I’m not sure I can answer that.  After all, the original post is from four years ago. I’ve had four years to consider this and I’ve done nothing. Maybe the “defining” thing is the problem. Do I really need to worry about that? Maybe it’s time t just think about doing more fun things after work. I already plan to see a movie on my Fridays off at least once a month for the next couple of months. I need to go ahead and buy that ticket to the concert in DC next month even though my wife won’t go with me. I need to get out and go to DC, Baltimore, and Annapolis. I need to take day trips to other places further away. There’s no reason to wait for retirement to start doing these things.

I guess it’s time to stop worrying about how present me is defined and start working on becoming the future, man of leisure, me.


I’m Just Gonna Be Me

The advice I get the most when I am about to apply for another promotion at work generally boils down to “just try not to be yourself.” Disclaimer – this advice is not coming from HR or anyone in power, just random people I know.

I do not have a shiny and sparkly personality.  I’m pretty much a grumpy old man. Sometimes I’m grumpy and funny. I have a tendency to go off on a rant on occasion. I don’t keep it a secret when I am applying for a promotion.  I don’t keep it a secret when I am applying for jobs with another organization. I am pretty good at my job. I try to be a good boss. I want the people at work to have a reason to be there every day. I hope I succeed as a boss more than I fail. This is me.

I’m told when I go to interviews I should try to “sparkle” more. I don’t have a fake sparkly personality.  The thought of me with a fake sparkly personality should scare people. I wouldn’t want to hire someone who was fake in their interview and I wouldn’t want to work for someone who wants to hire fake people. I would like to be better at job interviews, but not in a fake way. I just want to be less nervous and to ramble less. I’m not sure I will ever get there.

I’m told I shouldn’t tell people I’m looking at other jobs because it might tarnish me in the eyes of decision-makers. I’ve told the decision-makers that I am always going to be aware of opportunities and that I will go for any I think are right for me. I expect the same from the people who work for me. They shouldn’t think about how I’m going to feel about them leaving for a better job. They should know that I will be sad when they leave, but I don’t judge them for looking. They should use me as a reference. I will say nice things about them and then I will be sad. I really need to learn how some people view employees as replaceable cogs. This must make it easier to lose good people.

Generally, I should keep my mouth shut and be fake when looking for a new job. No, thank you. I would rather stay where I am forever than do that.

I’m just gonna be me.


I Can See Clearly Now

I had fooled myself into believing that things would change.  I had fooled myself into thinking things would work out.  I went against years of evidence and starting being optimistic about things. I am no longer fooled. Things are the same way they always were. Any change that has happened has not changed my standing. My optimism was a mirage. I was fooled for a while by this mirage, but I’m seeing clearly now.

I’m seeing clearly that it is time to move on. I’ve let myself get stuck in the same place for too long. I’ve let myself get stuck in a place where I will never be appreciated. I’ve let myself get stuck in a place where I have no room for growth. I’ve let myself get stuck in a place where no one takes me seriously.

I can see clearly now that I’ve allowed other people’s opinion of me affect my opinion of myself. I’ve let other’s decide I’m not good enough, that I’m not worth the risk. I can see clearly now that other people’s opinion of me should not affect my opinion of myself. I can see clearly now that I need to go somewhere where people will appreciate what I have to offer. I can see clearly now that I’ve wasted a lot of time hoping for something that will never happen.

I can see clearly now that it is time for me to take action. It’s time for me to step out of my comfort zone. It’s time for me to sacrifice comfort, time and possibly money to find a place where I can grow and advance.

It was a tough week, but it opened my eyes.

I can see clearly now.

Alternating Dreams

I’ve always said that a clear sign that it is time to leave a job when you start dreaming about work. I’ve never actually left a job because I started dreaming about it. To do that, I would need someone else who is willing to hire me. Anywho, if I did follow that rule, it would definitely be time to leave. I had two dreams about work in the same night recently and they seemed to be alternate endings to the same story. I recently applied for a promotion at work. I have not yet been interviewed for said promotion, so they have not yet rejected me for said promotion. The dreams were two possible endings to this situation.

Dream 1 – I get an email telling me that they aren’t even going to interview me for the promotion. They know enough about me to know they do not think I would be good at the job. The dream ends with me going back to my office to pack all of my personal belongings so it will be easier for me to quit once I find any job that will take me. Not a great dream, but somewhat likely. I once did pack up all of my personal belongings even though I was not leaving because I felt disrespected and felt no need to pretend like I belonged.

Dream 2 – I get the job and a lot of people quit upon hearing the news. Not all bad news, though. While it sucks that the staff apparently quit to avoid working for me, it did help me to fill the empty spots with my favorite people. I always did dream of getting hired to open a brand new branch and hiring away all the best people to work for me. It sounds a lot better when it is a new branch and not, according to the dream, a branch that emptied out when they heard I would be the new boss.

The most likely scenario is neither dream, but closer to the first. I’m interviewed, rejected and feel like I’m somewhere where I am not welcome. I have a long history with that scenario.

Changing Goals

More on the topic of goals today. I was asked yesterday about goals and specifically asked if a certain job was my goal. It would have served me in the short term to just say yes, that is my career goal. Did I do that? Of course not. My problem over the years is that I am apparently unable to play the game that needs to be played to get ahead. The thing to do there was to say yes, my career goal is to be X, please hire me to do X. And yes, that is a current career goal. I would like to do X. I would be good at X. I don’t think there should be any question that I would be good at X. But is that my end goal? I really don’t know. Maybe. Maybe I get hired to do X and I’m very happy doing X and I want to do X for the rest of my work life. But the thing is, goals change. Life changes.

Maybe my wife gets a new job and we have to move. Doesn’t matter what my career goal was, now my career goal is to find a decent job in the new location. Maybe I win the lottery. Nw my career goal is to quit in a way that will not alert people that I won the lottery. Maybe I’m so good at my job I’m offered the chance to move to a higher level job and it is something that excites me. Now my career goal has moved up the ladder. Maybe I get a notification that a job I didn’t even know existed is open and it is the perfect situation for me. It would be hard to have that goal if I didn’t even know it could be a goal.

So, I guess my goal is to stay aware of opportunities, take chances and go for those opportunities when they arise and to know which opportunity is the right one for me.

Tater’s Wednesday Morning Off Thoughts

Wednesday is the day I don’t start work until 1. That means I have time in the morning to do housework, run errands or, like this morning contemplate life while I’m waiting for the laundry to be ready to fold. The contemplations are not always fun. Today’s contemplations are brought to me by the increasingly clear signals that it may be time for me to move on. As I think about moving on, I think about some of the lessons I need to learn before I make a jump.

Look before you leap – I practiced this one recently when I opted against taking a new job. I won’t rehash the details as I’ve written about it already. In short, I took the time to consider the pros and cons of the job and decided that is was not the right move for me at the time. Change for change sake is not the right decision. Really investigate the jump before you take it.

The greener grass might be misleading – The grass might be greener on the other side, but that might just be due to a lot of bullshit. It’s easy to clean your house and threaten the kids to behave when company is coming. It’s easy to be fooled into thinking everything is great somewhere because of this. It’s similar to the social media effect. You think everyone’s life is better than yours because of the fake snapshot they post online. Before you consider jumping to a new place, look below the surface. Is it a healthy work environment? This might be hard to know for certain, but try to find out what you can.

Jumping is scary, but staying put might be worse – I’ve been with the same employer for 24 years. The thought of leaving is scary. The thought of giving up the comfort and security of being a long time employee could easily keep me from considering making a move, What’s scarier, though, is the thought of watching everyone around you move up and move on while you remain stagnant. Sometimes, the only way to move up is to move out.

It doesn’t hurt to look – Even if you are happy where you are right now, it never hurts to look to see what’s out there. You might miss out on the perfect job for you by not even knowing it’s an option. It doesn’t hurt to look, apply and even interview. You don’t have to take the job if you decide it isn’t the right fit, but how will you know if you don’t try?

You don’t owe anything to anyone – Do what’s best for you and your family. That is all that matters. You don’t owe anyone else anything but ample notice that you are leaving. That’s all.

All that being said, even when it likely becomes clear to me in the next few months that it is my time to jump, it will be hard for me to actually do it.