Wednesday, March 11, 2009

My initiative must be stopped!!

There are two kinds of people in this world: me and everyone else. And I don't say this to isolate myself in a bubble of superiority. Quite the opposite. I say this because I am me. Everyone else is not me. See, two kinds.

I have always been one of those employees who received excellent reviews and merit raises, one of the few who could be called upon in a moment of crisis, someone who could rig a hair weave out of some puppy chow and a straw. Because, while I'm not the most out-of-the-box thinker, I am a thinker, nonetheless. My creativity and ability to think for myself has usually been appreciated, if not celebrated. We can always go back to my days in the No-Tell Motel business to relive the excitement of the entire staff when I nabbed a huge contract to bring to town the Wings Over Williston Air Show. Because I was given the liberty to work around certain restrictions, I negotiated a hell of a deal that brought my hotel's revenue up in just one weekend by tens of thousands of dollars.

And then for some reason, I decided to try something new. I didn't want to be 40 years old (one day, many years from now!) wishing I had made an attempt at some other career. I was fortunate enough to work in a bookstore and a college library, all the while working on my degree. Over the past few years, I learned the best way to obtain a college education was to work for a college. Having been denied financial aid a few times, I applied for a job as a secretary at a local university and was hired with the promise of state benefits and paid tuition. Hallelujah, my prayers were answered. Or so I thought.

And that's where the problems began. My thoughts. If I have a thought, this means I am thinking. Apparently, in my office, thinking is highly overrated and strongly discouraged. If you are thinking about something, it means that you could possibly come up with a better solution than someone else. That someone else's feelings will be hurt and their ego will feel displaced.

In my office, I don't know how many people are allowed to think. I only know that I am not one of them. There was actually a closed-door meeting today (the second such meeting in three months with the first being conducted completely in the open and proof that professionalism is not my department's specialty) involving my two directors and myself, chockfull of assumptions, inflated egos, and plenty of yelling. The topic of discussion was my "initiative". Or rather their appreciation, as unwelcome as it may be, of my initiative and how it must be stopped in its tracks!!!! Why? I'm guessing because I learned something my director was not aware of and did what I thought was the right thing by informing her of this information.

Nope. Bad idea. And this was one of those moments that left me wondering...Is this job really worth it? The unprovoked verbal attacks, the obvious confusion that affects most who are involved in a single project because nobody seems to know the answers (and, quite possibly, aren't comfortable trying to obtain the answers!), and the constantly being thrown under the bus. Which, by the way, I've been run over by at least four times, usually by the same driver. Oh yes, I'm counting.

Unfortunately, this leaves me in a not-so-sweet position. I've tried to comfort myself over the past few months with thoughts of others' misfortunes, such as joblessness and subsequent home foreclosure and homelessness, and how millions of Americans are willing to do any job and are proving so by standing in line for hours at the local job fair. And I'll admit it - I'm slightly jealous. I am lucky enough to not have to pay a monthly rent and my credit score is spectacular so if I really needed to, I'm sure I could get a loan. My tax refund is usually a few thousand dollars so, again, cha-ching - yippy yay for me. Oh, what I wouldn't give to have my job cut due to budget restraints.

(I've actually prayed over this. My mother, who was very recently baptized, promised to pray for me, also. Which is a great idea since she now has a closer bond to the man or woman upstairs.)

The economy sucks, this I know. How could one not know? Ironic how I now have to use every ounce of creativity in my being to just get through each day in a place that does not, will not, allow me to think. It's kind of like getting your soul sucked out of you, seriously, but you're not allowed to stop it. At least, you don't want to be caught trying to stop it because that would mean you're swimming in the opposite direction of the team.

I miss my old self, the self that could make co-workers survive the same kind of verbal beating I received today. That self is gone. This worries me.

Hello, apathy.


Remo said...

We're all just whores working for an hourly nightstand-payoff and occasional medical benefits.

They don't own you -they just rent you by the week.

Sra said...

You have a few ways your could approach this:

1) Lose your "initiative" as a thinking non-robot and become a non-thinking robot, thus saving your job and your free tuition (which really is a big win to have).

2) Keep thinking and behaving as you normally would, and if they decide to downsize you because of that, you will have maintained your intellectual integrity, and you will be able to get unemployment while looking for something else.

3) Look for another job that will give you the same benefits but that allows you to actually try to do your job well.

Any of those avenues has its merit.

Geekzilla said...

There are two types of workers: those who define themselves by their careers and those who have careers to make a living. Neither is more right or wrong than the other, and a lucky few actually get a sense of accomplishment AND a fat check at their jobs.

Withdrawal in disgust is not the same as apathy ;-)