Wage Slave

Almost two years ago, I switched jobs at my idiotic company. I moved from the customer service arena to something (seemingly) far more rewarding that did not involve fucking customer service. It’s taken me this long to fully come to terms with this switch, and reach an emotional mindset that allowed me to fully parse all the crazy, horrible things that were wrong at my old job.

It’s actually been a very difficult couple of years. I worked the customer service job for 13 years, and I made many friends there. People that I interacted with every day for more than a decade, and spent more time with than my actual real-life friends. But when I left, I cut off all communication. I just couldn’t bring myself to talk to them, even though I was only three floors away. The whole damn thing felt like some sort of crazy bad breakup with a lover. All these friends I made were the CDs and books and shit that I left at the apartment when I stormed out on the relationship and no fucking way was I going to go back, tail between my legs, knock on the door and ask for them back. Collateral damage, you know?

A part of me, once I tasted freedom, was confounded as to why my friends were still at my old job. When I switched careers, it was amazing. It was actually a bit of culture shock. I felt like I went from kindergarten to my freshman year of college, but skipped all the formative years in between. At my new job, there was an almost alien atmosphere. The managers were all brilliant and capable. They and my co-workers treated me with respect, and even seemed interested in my well-being without it somehow involving their well-being. There were open lines of communication, information, and support. There was professionalism, humanity, and understanding. Tasks and duties were explained, clearly defined, and given reasonable timelines for completion. All of this was achieved with only one or two monthly meetings that rarely lasted more than 10 minutes.

Compared to the old job, this was night and day. Things came to an impasse at my old job because I was promoted into a new position and almost immediately told that I was forbidden to do any of the duties assigned. I was asked to train staff and I laboriously created a training program that would revolutionize the department and guide new staff through a three month process that would cover all the points, and then I was told that I was lazy and dumb and my supervisor created his own idiotic program. I proposed programs to boost morale and customer service and was told that the ideas would be an insult to the big boss and I’d be shot down. Half of my job was quality assurance, which I used to do for many major news outlets, and I was told I wasn’t allowed to do it because I “couldn’t be trusted.”

And, yet, I was asked to do large quantities of my supervisor’s work, especially the elements that would lead to the discipline or termination of employees. In fact, I was asked to write up termination letters for the big boss explaining why certain employees should go. Letters orchestrated by my supervisor that he then used to hide behind to further his agenda, making me out to be the asshole.

Of course, we’re talking about the guy who used to hit me whenever he saw me. Sometimes a gentle pat on the arm, sometimes not. He once bruised me. And he once broke a pair of glasses (whenever he saw something in my shirt pocket, he would hit it with pretty good force).

Oh, and the meetings. We’d have meetings about scheduling meetings. We’d have meetings about scheduling meetings to schedule meetings! We’d sometimes have three or more meetings a day. Every meeting was 10% business and 90% gossip and chit-chat. Then we’d have meetings about why we weren’t meeting deadlines or getting our work done. I loved those. Especially after they followed a morning of meetings. You’d spend 9am-11am meeting, then get chewed out at 1pm in another meeting because you were late with a project due by noon. Sometimes, in what I can only assume was some kind of zen exercise, we’d have meetings about nothing. “Let’s meet at 10am” would actually be spent watching clips from TV or complaining about the Metro. Sometimes, meetings would be so off the wall and loony that the attendees would be eyeing the door, wondering if the snap had finally come and the boss was about to pull a rifle out from behind his desk.

Back to the relationship metaphor. The whole thing was so despicable and horrible that I spent the last six months at the old job feeling trapped, hunted, depressed, and lost. I began applying to random jobs, sometimes blind. Every day, resumes went out. A slow, consuming desperation set on me. I had to get out, I had to run away, at all costs. My co-workers suffered, as well. Almost all of them had picked up some sort of vice to get through the day. One woman drank vodka from water bottles all day, two co-workers started smoking heavily late in life just so they could have an excuse to take breaks, one developed a Xanax habit. We were all in the same bad relationship nightmare and not sure how to get out.

And so I did run away. I landed in a far better job with far better people, but it’s not really what I wanted. That’s how every relationship ends, I guess. Those moody years where you think about your lost love and can’t quite build yourself up again to look for a new love. Not that I ever have (or ever will) love a job. But, we’re talking metaphors… My current job removes the dark weight from my soul, but it isn’t the path I would have chosen.

What worries me most is that I subjected myself to an abusive relationship for 13 years. I sat there and took all of the shit with a smile. Friends and family screamed for me to leave, and I would always shrug it off. Hell, sometimes I would defend the job and my treatment. Maybe I deserved to be bullied? Maybe I deserved the disrespect? That’s the Catholic in me talking, I suppose, but I wondered. I was in a bad place for so many of those 13 years that the bad relationship became one of those co-dependent relationships. Sicker and sicker…

So it’s taken nearly two years to reconcile with all this, but I’m far from healed. I still haven’t resumed contact with the folks at the old job, and I don’t know how to at this point. If you walk away from a relationship you should expect to lose all the shit you left behind in her apartment, right? Hell, she’s probably thrown all that shit away long ago! So fuck her.

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