Wednesday, January 24, 2007

with a heavy heart

"Maybe working just sucks."

That's what a friend said to me as I was once again lamenting my employment situation. I had said something like "I hate my job but I'm pretty sure if I go somewhere else, I'll hate that job too."

Her answer is worth repeating:

"Maybe working just sucks."


At age 14, my first office job - temping for an accountant at an insurance agency - involved making copies of checks and filling out bank deposit slips. All day. My work table looked out over the highway so when I ran out of checks to copy, I'd watch the cars. Later on, by folding staples into tiny metal sculptures and attaching them to rubberbands, I designed an office supply-based jewelry collection. At least, I conceived of it and accumulated a large pile of folded staples. But I could never get close to finishing a piece before another pile of checks got dumped on my desk.

I don't remember being miserable. But I was 14 and had just escaped the clutches of a popcorn store where I couldn't really operate the equipment or the cash register. So maybe my perspective was warped.

Seven years passed before I found myself stuck at another desk.

No that's sort of a lie. I temped some one summer and actually spent three days in a windowless conference room assembling Albertson's bakery cookbooks with a girl who absolutely refused to speak to me. But that was tolerable because the end was in sight.

It wasn't until I was almost done with college that I got my first taste of the "real world" and it depressed the hell out of me. I interned at the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce for the guy who actually spearheaded the campaign to bring the Dallas Cowboys training camp to Austin every summer. (This ended in disaster by the way.) I don't know why I took that internship, except that I needed something on my resume besides "babysitter" and "lifeguard." I got no window. I got no desk. No staples to bend. A lot of busy work. A lot of rubbing elbows with cheesy dudes who talked alot of jargony, business-related nonsense and sometimes shot you with their finger guns.

I used to park on the top floor of the parking garage under the blazing summer sun so that every morning and every afternoon I'd be overwhelmed by sky for at least a few minutes. Just to alleviate that cramped, hemmed-in feeling that weighed down on me every day. To replenish the vitamin D that was surely being sucked out of my pores by all those flourescent lights. And most importantly, to bake the life force back into me after spending so much time in the cryogenic chamber that is every office in Texas in summertime.

How does one successfully transition from a life of constant movement across a beautiful college campus and across of a field of academic study to the sedentary and repetitive existence of an office job?

With a heavy heart.



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