Monday, July 2, 2007

Trapped at Work

The topic of this post is one I've been mulling over for weeks. Because the root of the topic is one of feelings and attitude, it's been a challenge to bring my thoughts together in a rational, coherent manner. Please bear with me if my thoughts seem to ramble.

I have a confession to make. Not only do I hate my job, I also have to literally talk myself into showing up each day. A visceral feeling of dread overcomes me every day as the hour approaches that I must leave for yet another day of feeling trapped as I do what is necessary to support myself.

Almost without exception, however, I do what is necessary and I show up at my place of employment. It is never motivated by duty, but rather by my own pressing financial need. I take no pride nor see any intrinsic value whatsoever by what I do to earn money. It is simply a means toward an end.

Once I am there, I am counting the minutes until I am set free and my time is my own once again. Because of the nature of the job, there is no firm quitting time -- I have a certain time I am to begin my workday, but the end depends upon the level of business that day. If business is slow, I might get to leave early; if it is busy, I'll be there until closing time and sometimes beyond. More often than not, I'm stuck there until closing time.

I spend each day with my ear to the ground, paying close attention to trends that might indicate an early departure for me. When volunteers are requested for early departure, I'm the first one with my hand up. Getting to leave early generates exactly the same feeling for me that an early release for a prison inmate does.

Conversely, I follow the First Rule of the Army when it comes to management requests for volunteers to stay later or to do extra work -- Never Volunteer For Anything. I only do what is strictly required of me and I do it well, but at my level of pay and complete lack of benefits, I'm not going to put myself out and go beyond the call of duty.

Those who do have the chance to end up in management, but I think the management job there is even shittier than the job I already have. They don't make a whole lot more money -- and they have to work many more hours to get what little more they do get, plus have all the headaches of responsibility. No thanks. I'm already spending too many of my precious waking hours as it is engaged in feelings of quiet desperation.

Perhaps I might feel differently if I had a job that I liked or, at the minimum, tolerated well. But, with the exception of my job at the police department, I've never had a job that I actually wanted -- I've always had to take whatever I could get jobwise. I've never been in the position of having several job offers available to me where I get to pick and choose. The choice has always been "take this job or starve".

Even with working in law enforcement, a vocation that I actively desired and aggressively sought, the novelty wore off all too quickly and I came to despise it as much as the menial jobs I've been obliged to accept before and since. But even after I realized that police work was a poor fit for my temperament and outlook on life, the excellent benefits I got there alleviated my discontent to a great degree.

But I don't even have that to fall back on now. My current job has low pay and nonexistent benefits. And, unfortunately, the job market is my area continues to be depressed, so I must continue there until something better comes along, if it ever does. The only saving grace is that I don't have to take just anything as I've always been obliged to do when I've been seeking work while unemployed.

I feel somewhat better now simply to have gotten in all out in print.

Please do not offer any suggestions or advice in your comments, as I'm not looking for any. The sole purpose of this post was simply to vent my frustrations and perhaps to commiserate with those who have similar feelings toward their work.

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