So I should start this page out by stating that my job was not a horrible fit for me. I worry a bit that I’m a little too negative when describing it. People don’t like to read about negativity. Negativity bums us out. We like Irrepressible Optimism and Endless Awesomeness. As humans, this is how we’re wired.
Look. I have always been very grateful to have a) landed a job that paid well, b) possess a personality type that enjoys logical thinking and therefore the problem-solving aspects associated with my position and c) found an industry that had a diverse, intelligent, and generally good-natured workforce. This meant I genuinely got on with most of my peers, which is a big part of toughing out the grind.
So in many ways, it was a pretty good fit for me and I’ve felt extremely lucky to have stumbled upon a high-paying job that I could tolerate on my first try out of college. I mean, I liked computers, I liked people who liked computers, I liked software, and I liked fixing stuff that broke. It wasn’t all bad, really.
That being said, I couldn’t shake the negatives, hard as I tried. I hated the hours. I hated the stress. I hated the travel. I hated the on-call duty, being called on weekends and in the middle of the night. I was honestly angry about the demands of the job. It asked too much of me. Like a misbehaving dog, my employer’s actions needed sharp correction. It was time to take control. I had a decent buffer of money to float me in the worst-case scenario of being fired, and I was willing to take a chance. It was a healthy anger – the sort that lets you know that you have an urgent problem that needs attention.
After I returned from my vacation at the library, I went into my next 1:1 with Mr. Data carrying an agenda.
Hey there, <livingafi>, glad to have you back. Let me open up the report on your performance and let’s get to it.
Before we start talking about that, I have a few things I need to go over with you.
Sure. What’s on your mind?
Well, first off, I’ve decided I don’t want to do on-call duty anymore.
I take my pager off and place it on the desk.
Oh. Well, that’s something we’re going to have to talk about. Because everyone here serves time in the rotation. You know that.
Right. I do know that. But I’ve decided I’m not going to do it. I wanted to let you know.
He’s confused. I told him I didn’t want to do it, he asserted that I had to, and I effectively told him that I’m still not doing it. My response does not compute. After a few seconds he recovers.
This is a core expectation and needs to be met.
Yeah. About that core expectation. When I was hired, on-call duty was not part of the package. I took a look at the contract. It says I’m a salaried employee with the expectation being that I work 40 hours a week. I don’t want to work more than that.
In these trying economic times, we all need to do more than we are asked.
Right. I am. My numbers are well above team averages, which means I’m hitting that goal. I’m already doing more than my peers.
I should remind you that you’re getting paid extra to take on this responsibility. You’ll effectively be taking a salary cut.
I know. It’s not a problem.
I can’t agree to this.
Okay. I understand your position. But I want you to know that if you put me on-call for another shift, I won’t respond to incoming calls. I’m not willing to do this anymore.
I’m sweating. There’s another pause. This is why people hate confrontations. It’s incredibly uncomfortable to willfully disagree with authority figures.
This will be noted on your annual review.
I push my luck here.
Well, yes, actually. I’ve decided I’m not going to travel anymore. It doesn’t agree with me. Also, anything I can do at a customer site, I can do remotely. We can use conference bridges and remote-desktop technology to solve outstanding issues with clients. There’s no practical reason for me to continue in this function.
Do we have a problem?
I start to stretch the truth just a bit.
No problem whatsoever. I like my job, I love the company, and I take pride in what I do. That will always be the case. But I’m asking you to understand that this aspect of my responsibilities is having an extremely negative effect on my life. Can you work with me here?
I’ll have to think about it.
Makes sense. Take your time. But I want you to know that on this subject, I’m not asking. If you assign me to go onsite to another customer, there will be no one arriving on the scheduled date.
<livingafi>, maybe you should go home for the rest of the day. You’re clearly stressed out. Let’s talk about this tomorrow.
There’s no getting around it. It’s ugly. I wonder if I’ll have a job the next day.
I head into the office on the following day with no idea what to expect. My brain fantasizes about being escorted out of the building by armed guards.
But nothing happens. I get to my cube, log into the software systems that assign me my work, and get to it.
The following week, in my 1:1 with Mr. Data, he doesn’t mention our conflict. Not even once. Instead, we talk about the current set of issues I own. I’m working, as always, a large set of critical problems tied to high-profile customers, and we need to discuss logistics on satisfying their needs.
I dimly realize that this means I’ve been granted my requests.
There are some things Fuck-You Money can buy.
And my purchase just cleared.