Sunday, February 15, 2009

Raiders of the Lost Career

I'm forty. Forty years have passed. Forty years during which I have had the opportunity to be amazing. Forty years during which I could have obtained my Ph.D. Forty years during which I could have become the "Great American Writer" or a teacher, or volunteered to help hurricane and flood victims. Forty years during which I could have developed some talent, ANY talent. But I haven't. Approximately 1/2 of my life is over if you believe statistics, and I am still no closer to knowing what I am.

Maybe the philosophy from which I have worked thus far is all wrong. See, I have always thought that a person IS something. A person is either a philanthropist, a salesman, a fighter, or such. I thought you spent your youth unearthing, like an archaelogist, what this person is. You carefully dusted off the debris, removing what is NOT you, until, like the Parthenon, the Sphinx, or the Colisseum, the structure of who you are stood bare for others to see. Your older years were spent using what you have unearthed to benefit mankind if you were a good person, or to benefit yourself at others' expense if you were not quite so good.

I've been carefully unearthing...and removing debris...only to find...more earth, and more debris. I keep dusting off, moving rock, shovelling off the dirt, finding intricate patterns of cracks that I have thought will define who I am. No matter how careful I am though, so far, all I have unearthed leads to more cracks and less definition. Maybe in the end I will hit the bottom and it will all just be so much dry and useless dirt.

Then I find myself thinking of that fictional, though famous archaeologist, Indiana Jones. This may be stretching it for some, but I always think of Indy. If you watched the series, The Young Indiana Jones, you learned that he was fascinated with archaelogy as a boy. So he always knew what he was.

But now I'm thinking of Indy as Harrison Ford. Often Harrison would be teaching an archaeology class at the university, minding his own business, just a professor trying to make a living, when he would be accosted by the Nazis, or someone connected to his past, and he would be off on this exciting adventure. Indy didn't seek adventure, IT sought him. He frequently found himself thrust into the thick of things, having to live by his wits and use the resources available to him at the moment.

He doesn't think about his 401k. He doesn't worry that his job will be unavailable when he returns. The state of the economy doesn't worry him. So long as he has his trusty hat and bullwhip, Indy is as right as rain. He can face ancient Incan tribes, he can decipher the secrets of the dead when others who have tried for centuries have not, he can cope with interdimensional beings, and even manage to handle, ugh, snakes, even though he professes a hatred for them. He doesn't doubt his significance in his world. Anything can be handled with an ancient scroll, a bullwhip or gun, his hat cocked to a rakish angle and that charming smile.

I'd love to handle life that way, but I have to take the dog out to his potty spot and get my daughter ready for school. (da, da da da da da) The bill collectors will be threatening our (gasp!) credit score yet again today and my son wants to know why he cannot go out in the snow in bare feet. I have to stop by Home Depot (da da da daaaaah, dant da da) and get a no-kill squirrel trap for our furry friend in our basement. I have to run to the store for toilet paper(Dant da da daaaaah, dant da daaah daaah da da) and scrub the smutz out of the glassware that for some unknown reason my dishwasher will not clean. (Dant da daah dah, da daahh dah dant dah da da da)

I have a nice life. I don't fool myself into thinking otherwise. I have a loving husband who is honest, works hard and retains his integrity when many around him do not, I have lovely children who are creative, funny and smart, and my basic needs are met. I have a nice home, friendly neighbors, and furry, lovable pets. I have enough freedom that I can be with my children and not hear second-hand about others raising them. I have some friends.

So why am I dissatisfied? Why do I feel this whistling, empty space inside? Why do I feel always like there is a space that no one can touch, one that is lonely, unhappy and unreachable? I know all the reasons to feel positive. I have a list that I keep, a running list in fact, of reasons that I should (and do) feel grateful. That is partly in truth, to try to keep me focused on the good things in life.

Unfortunately I seem to have a knack for seeing the worst. Food never tastes as good as I had hoped it would. Jokes aren't the really funny kind that make you squirt milk out your nose. I don't remember the last time I laughed that hard...if I have EVER laughed that hard. Everything just falls short. Why is that? Is there something in me that is just incapable of experiencing anything fully? The last truly poignant emotion I remember having was the birth of my firstborn son, Thomas. I felt unfettered joy when he was born. I felt like I couldn't love something more, my relationship with my husband couldn't be in a better place, and I could handle anything that came my way. Then SLAM! The guillotine sliced my heart in two. It hasn't been the same before or since. I'm not sure I can put my heart out there again.

I don't want to be cynical, but it's so hard to see the ass-hats rule and not get cynical. For those of you who do not know what an ass-hat is, an ass-hat is someone you must work for who is less than qualified, is willing to take the credit for your work, and will throw you under the proverbial bus at the first opportunity. They have little or no integrity, often have direct control over your financial security and have exactly zero interest in helping you get ahead. Often they have a vested interest in insuring that you DO NOT get ahead, lest they be forced to find someone else who can somewhat competently fill your position. (See the Dilbert comic strip if you don't know what I mean.)

Oddly enough, I do not currently work for an ass-hat. My supervisor is actually a decent person. She is straightforward, direct and compassionate. She will roll up her sleeves and do the hard work necessary to get the job done. She doesn't seem to play games, and will let you know if you are doing things that are wrong. But....

But what you say? paycheck isn't what secures financial stability for us. It never has been. Since I have never been able to settle on what exactly I am, my career is rather checkered. For reasons I won't belabor here, our family has not been able to rely on my income. That is a discussion for another time, that I will perhaps share with you some day. Most likely.

For now, suffice it to say that my young family could not survive on my income. My husband is the breadwinner. He is the more stable person between the two of us. He is dependable, he is hard-working. He is smart. He understands the nuances of his job, gets along well with others, and knows how to accomplish his goals when he is given a task. He definitely will put his nose to the grindstone and keep it there until the job is done and done right. He was at work a couple of weeks ago in spite of the fact that he was throwing up and had diarrhea.

But he works for an ass-hat. I won't tell you where he works in case someone from there reads this, but his manager is an ass-hat. Steve hasn't said that. He wouldn't. He's a nice guy. He also knows not to say anything that you wouldn't want to say directly to a person's face. So he hasn't said this person is an ass-hat. Not even to me. I am saying it though.

Now why am I saying this? You ask. Let me tell you. At the beginning of the month Steve was supposed to go away on business. He was going to be away for a week. He wasn't thrilled, but he was planning to go as it was part of his job. I talked about joining him out there if I could get someone to watch the kids, but the prices for flights were more than we could afford at this time. Well, he has been struggling with a health problem that he thought was minor at first, but it began to become a bit more troublesome. I won't go in to detail in the interest of preserving his privacy. But the long and short of it was that his doctor advised him not to go away. She provided him with a note explaining that she was recommending that he not take his business trip.

Since his doctor was recommending this course of action, Steve decided to follow her advice and brought his note to his manager. She promptly told him that she did not want any further details and that he was to direct any futher communication pertaining to his health to human resources. Not one time did she ask if he was going to be okay. She showed no concern for his well-being. Only upset at having her "business decisions" "interfered with."

This, though disappointing, would not really be such an issue, if that was all there were to this ass-hat's actions. Steve had turned his medical note into his manager on a Monday. TWICE that day she decided to have him into her office and let him know that she was unhappy with his performance. She claims that her boss was unhappy as well, and that his work had been sub-par as of late. This came as a complete shock to my husband since the previous Friday he had had his review and was told that his work was top-notch and that they were very happy with the quality and quantity of what he was doing.

In addition to this, and prior to this, my husband found out "accidentally" that the databases that he had been using to produce the reports that his manager asked for on a regular basis were no longer available to him. He has been told he is a "security risk" for some unknown reason. He has been chewed out at least twice for failing to produce the reports his manager requires. He cannot produce these reports until he has the data that he can no longer access because he is considered a "security risk."

And that is why his manager is an ass hat. Just to summarize: 1.) said ass hat claims he is a security risk. She has never discussed this as an issue with him directly. Never warned him that he would be losing access to the databases he needs to do his job well. He found out by accident that he was not going to have database access. 2.) ass-hat showed no concern for him as a human being, only expressed being inconvenienced by his health problems and the potential impact they may have on "business decisions" whatever that means, 3.) ass-hat apparently cannot decide if he is doing a terrific job or a terrible one...apparently too many words starting with "t" on the review forms.

The worst part? I can do nothing. This ass-hat has my family's future in her bumbling hands and I cannot speak up to protect my family. I cannot demand that she answer for her actions. I will not get an accounting of her actions. She is not accountable to me. Like so many of the villains Indiana Jones faces during his adventures, this ass-hat does not feel any responsibility for the lives she is affecting.

Where's a bullwhip when you need one? How can I perform the daring rescue without one? I cannot swing gracefully through the corporate jungle without it. I do not have my trusty hat. It seems I have brought a knife to a gun fight. The monkeys in the company trees will follow me and chatter their monkey-language, but none will demand a reckoning. They're happy to be thrown a random piece of fruit from the vine, even if it's a rare piece. More than likely they would be just as happy to watch me fall and be consumed.

My five things:
1.) I am grateful that we have enough of what we need
2.) I am grateful that my husband is honest and has integrity, even when others don't.
3.) I am grateful that my boss is NOT an ass hat
4.) I am grateful that I do not have to deal with my husband's boss who IS an ass hat
5.) I am grateful that I am not a corporate monkey

My bucket list:

1.) I want to find a way to reach the corporate sector and change the climate/culture of monkeys pushing buttons (more on that another time)
2.) I want to help an ass-hat realize that they are and help them to change
3.) I want to change anything about myself that would be ass-hattish
4.) I want my children to refuse to become ass hats
5.) I want to enjoy life in spite of the ass hats.

No comments: