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.
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…
Once upon a time, in an office far, far away(Baltimore) I worked for a terrible person. I was a contract employee and, even if this person wasn’t terrible, would need to find a new job eventually. During this terrible time, I filled in as the librarian at the women’s prison for several months. It had the benefit of not being in the same office as the terrible person and I felt I was actually doing some good. I applied for the open position and the terrible person passed on hiring the person actually doing the job and hired someone else. At this time, I became more active in my job search. At some point, the terrible person found out I was looking for a new job and was furious. She called me in to her office and yelled about how I owed it to her to tell her I was looking so she could start thinking about a replacement for me. I wish I would have had it in me then to tell her why exactly I owed her nothing. I did eventually find a new job, but it was right back to jail. You can read some of that story here.
The above story is brought to you by me hearing about others who are concerned about what people will think if people here they might be looking for a new job. No one should worry about what people think about them looking for a new job. No one owes it to anyone to tell them they are looking for a new job. No one owes it to an employer to not look for new opportunities. What you owe your employer is this – do your best when you are at work. Do the job you are paid to do. That’s it. That’s all you owe them. Same goes for supervisors and coworkers. If you have a good relationship with them and you think they will support you, by all means, let them know, but you don’t need to tell anyone anything you don’t want to tell them. You do owe it to yourself to do what is best for you and your family. That’s it. End of story. This also applies to people who work for me(though I can’t imagine anyone wouldn’t want to work for me forever).
There are lyrics to a Bowling for Soup song that apply here:
Follow your heart. Fuck everybody else.
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 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.
I am reading the book Walden on Wheels for my book club. It is a memoir by a guy who details his time trying to live simply to pay off his student loans. He works in Alaska at a camp here he gets free room and board, he works as a park ranger, he hitchhikes home and when he goes to grad school he lives in his van. As I read this book(and listen while sitting in rush hour traffic) I think two things: 1. This guy is a dick and 2. The simple life doesn’t sound so bad.
While I have no desire to be this guy
I wouldn’t mind making some changes. I’ve written here before about how much I dislike the suburbs. The suburbs is the opposite of the simple life. The suburbs means a bigger house with room for lot s of stuff. The suburbs means a yard you have to keep manicured so your neighbors don’t hate you. The suburbs means the need to drive everywhere you go. I’m here until my kids graduate and get their own places. Once they are settled I will work on convincing my wife to consider a condo in the city. I’m not sure how successful I will be, but I would love a life of no lawn and the availability of public transit.
A simpler life also means the possibility of lessening the need for a job you don’t love to make the money you need to live life in the DC suburbs. The condo in the city won’t be any cheaper, but I hope to be retired by then and can save money by having no need for money for more than a couple of Metro rides a week. I was at Panera today and again longed to be the person who could enjoy sitting there sipping my coffee with no office to get to. I could deal with the suburbs if I could somehow make a living writing or doing some other job I could do from my laptop at Panera. I would take the simple life of living in the suburbs with no need to deal with rush hour traffic and no need to leave the house and deal with difficult people.
So, while I have no desire to live in a van down by the river, I do desire the ability to live a life less dependent on a traditional career.
I was a few sentences in to a post this morning about feeling residual anxiety from a dream last night and how that is rare for me. I was already struggling to get the wording the way I wanted when there was a knock at the door. As I mentioned earlier in Destruction Day, are master bath is being renovated. The knock at the door was the person who is doing the renovation ready to start the day. I am not going to attempt to restart the interrupted post(It wasn’t that great anyway) so instead I will just post some stray observations from my conference I attended last week:
I was spoiled that last two years at conference with multiple people from my system attending. I didn’t have to worry about eating alone or trying to join a random pub quiz team. This year went back to the old ways of me being one of only two non-admin employees at the conference. I did go to dinner once with people from work, but I had more times when I was eating alone. Luckily, I didn’t have to worry about pub quiz. Two people from work showed up(including our new CEO) and I found people I played with last year.
I always struggle with mingling and networking at conferences. I’m really bad at it and, if given a choice, will eat alone if no friends are there and spend time alone in my room. This year, I made an attempt to spend more time actually talking to people instead. I’m not sure if those people appreciated me talking to them, but I feel good about my attempts to be a normal person.
I finally won a raffle in the vendor area after 20 some years of attending the conference. Multiple bottles of wine were won and then my ticket was drawn when they were giving away three childrens books. Even when I win, I am a loser.
Every time I leave the conference I feel like I’m ready to make a leap and do something new with my career. I never do. Even though I was better at talking to people this year I will not use it to try to move ahead in my career. I will continue to work for the same place in the same job until I retire. I do try to take back what I learn and use it in my job, so the conference does make me better at my job. I will never be the person who has the ability to use networking opportunities for career advancement. So, sorry coworkers, you are stuck with me.
This weekend was the first weekend in a while where I was actually able to relax. To make it even better, it was a four day weekend. I didn’t do anything exciting. On my birthday leave day on Friday I went out and got some free food from Panera and Dickey’s and watched a movie on DVD. Saturday was so uneventful all I remember is that I took the dog for a walk and watched a basketball game. Sunday I went to church and out to eat with the family for a late birthday celebration. Yesterday I spent hour scanning pictures from 2001. Even so, the four days off makes it really hard to think about heading out in a few minutes to reenter the real world.
I don’t hate my job. I don’t hate working. I’ve just reached the point in my life when I am ready to move on from the career and to the retirement phase of life. I would even take the ability to work from home. Actually, I think I’ve always been at this point. I would have gladly been a stay at home dad if it had been feasible for our family. I’ve mentioned before that I’ve never been a career focused person. I do my job to the best of my ability and I do apply for new jobs/promotions when they come up, but I’ve always been someone who would quit to stay at home if given the opportunity. I think this got more pronounced toward the end of my time at the jail. Corrections has a 20 year retirement, so I spent the last few years of my time at the jail watching people I worked with retire knowing that I still had 10-15 years left. I’m closer now, but not close enough.
So, I head back to work today but I would much rather be one of the people who have the ability to spend their morning with friends at Panera instead of heading off to another day at the job. Reentry is hard.