March 25, 2004

In my lifetime, I've had four real jobs, besides babysitting, petsitting and watching my neighbors' house while they're on vacation.

Two of those four jobs have proven to be life-altering experiences for me. They showed me the value of working hard, but getting nowhere. How to bite my tongue when I have an opinion, because if I don't agree with my boss then no one really cares. How to do things the way I'm told, even if there is an better way. That moving up the ladder from clerk to supervisor doesn't justify a raise of more than twenty-five cents. The list goes on, but I won't. I call those two jobs Retail Hell and Corporate Hell, because that's exactly what they were.

Today, Corporate Hell left a message on my answering machine, asking me to come back and work for them again. When I first started there, it wasn't that bad. I had a fast-paced position, worked with people my own age, and enjoyed what I did. But the longer I worked there, the more bullshit I had to put up with. My department had some lay-offs, and I ended up not only being a supervisor but also doing the work of three people. (With no raise, I might add.) I saw people who were great at their job get laid off, simply because they made more money. I had four managers above me, just in my department alone, who didn't seem to spend more than two hours a day doing actual work. Any changes that were suggested to streamline our process had to be formally written up and submitted for approval, which would take weeks. A lot of politics and bullshit, basically.

Then I got laid off, and that's the kicker. Not only did I get laid off while I was on vacation (for my 21st b-day) but I actually heard the news from my roommate, who still worked there at the time. When I went in to clean out my desk, I asked my boss if anyone was planning to call me and let me know that I didn't have a job anymore. His reply? "We were just going to tell you when you came in on Monday." I didn't even know how to respond to that.

Needless to say, I won't be returning Corporate Hell's call. Even if I did, I'm pretty sure that I wouldn't even be able to choke out a "No" while laughing that hard. It would probably be a "No way in hell" but that's beside the point.

I did learn one very valuable lesson from my experience there: The only job I want is the one where I get to do something I love. That's what matters.