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All posts for the month November, 2011

Clouds in my coffee

Published November 30, 2011 by Kim

That snippet of a line from Carly Simon’s “You’re So Vain” has been living in my head for weeks. I know that the song is about a former lover, but that singular phrase has morphed into something else for me. It’s the dispersal of dreams, how ephemeral they often prove to be…

I’m thirty-three, and–professionally–I’ve achieved nothing in my life. Personally? I have a great man as my husband; two annoying, frustrating, and darling children; a house and yard; and the typical American debt hanging on my shoulders. I’m fine with those things–they make me happy (well, excepting that debt thing). For me, a career has always been a non-issue: I work to pay bills and do the things I want to do; I don’t work because it fulfills me. I’ve never been one for the rat-race, the ladder-climbing, the brown-nosing…

But here I sit, wondering if this is how depression feels, because I’m boxed into a job I despise and have no way out. I’ve been with this company for ten years–how did I end up in something I dislike? Well, it sort of goes like this: graduate college, get engaged, get a job, lose that job, take another job that doesn’t pay even half the bills, take first decent job found, get married, linger in job because it’s “not so bad”…add a couple of kids and the rapid passage of time, a crappy economy and lack of jobs in my area–presto! You have an over-thirty who doesn’t have options or job skills she can take elsewhere.

Want to know a secret? It’s not exactly a secret, really–I want to be an artist. Any kind of artist, really. I love to write, I wish I could sketch, I would love to paint (not that I think I’d have any talent), I love to sing and dance (you won’t ever see or hear me, so don’t ask)…I just want to CREATE. Instead, I tap keys all day, inject faux sympathy and friendliness into a voice that’s half-gone from talking because I’ve had a cold for days, and answer the same question over and over for the same person. I fight tooth and nail to get things right, but can’t ever seem to find that balance between right and fast enough.

I was told at the end of September that I had to meet my performance requirements or I’d have to begin commuting every day. That’s an hour, one way. Two hours a day, one hundred five miles round-trip, into a city I’m uncomfortable driving in, to an office where I’d sit under fluorescent lights and be surrounded by the din of coworkers. The watchful gaze of my near-useless supervisor would be inescapable. Those things provided huge incentive to work my butt off. Alas, I missed my goal for October by less than half a second. Failure is failure, whether an inch or a mile. “Okay,” I thought, “I can do this. I’ll redouble my efforts and come through November like a champ.” The month started rough, but I brought it around–and when the Hubby and I got on a plane for our anniversary vacation, I was all over that goal like chimps on bananas. I had it. It was MINE.

Then I came home. I logged into work to catch up on emails, get ready for the workday…what’s this? I’m not meeting my goal? WTF? I’ve been gone! How did this happen? Cue the email to the supervisor (gone on vacation), the frantic message to another supervisor (oh, there’s no changes, not sure what’s up), the earnest followup to my boss’s boss (nope, no changes, but your performance is the problem–how?), and then the final inquiry a week later to my supervisor, who had come back without ever answering my email.

No changes, not sure what you’re talking about.

I was dumbfounded. Then a colleague, questioning the same thing as me, asked again. Oh, something changed, yes. No one can say when it changed, but it changed, and now all those calls I took and was told didn’t affect my scores and goal? They do. Which means I’m a failure at my job, and must be brought back to the office, as I have clearly shown I do not deserve my position in a home office.

Bless my husband, he doesn’t want to question it until I talk to my supervisor. I’ve explained to him what was laid out for me two months ago: do it, or face the consequences. He seems to think management will recognize the unfairness of scoring something the staff was not told to expect. I’m not holding my breath; I’ve heard their reasoning before (“now, you should know things change fast around here” and “if you were working hard, it wouldn’t matter that we changed it”). I’m galled that my team was told to work backup on these lines, told that it didn’t matter how long the calls were (these customers are notorious for being chatty/asking lots of questions), and then not warned when the guidelines changed.

I had that goal. It was in my hands–I went beyond it. I was doing so well, it was amazing. I think that’s what hurts most: that it was ripped away from me with no warning and no explanation. Oh, except when it’s too late. I’ve been upset, crying, had no appetite, and want nothing more than to sleep away everything. I hate my job, and want so very much to get into something I will at least not dread every day.

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With that off my chest, let me state the point of this blog: I want it to be an outlet. Not just for woe-is-me sorts of things, but where I can talk about some of my efforts, whether it’s job status, job-hunting, writing, anything. If it keeps me going, not forsaking my passions, it’s well worth the effort.