So I’m done with work. You know this and I know this. My last day is April 10th, 2015. By now, you probably wish I’d shut up about the whole thing.
Don’t worry. The day is soon coming where I stop complaining about my experiences as an office drone.
And yet, today isn’t that day. Nope — today I’m instead going to, for the last time, devote a post exclusively to whinging about work.
Over the last couple of months, I’d halfheartedly constructed a few drafts centered around some aspect of office-existence that has, at one time or another, driven me up the wall. But they never seemed to come out right. In the end, I have a bunch of unused material that I don’t care enough about to polish up, expand, and publish. (I think this is mostly due to the fact that the hating is a) not really hating but rather intense-disliking and b) fleeting: powerful one day, but basically gone the next. So I’d read these drafts the day after writing them, when I was relaxed and at peace with the world, and think: God. I sound like a total foaming-at-the-mouth psycho. I can’t let people read that!)
Still, I can’t quite make this laundry list of things that irritate me about work disappear. Part of me wants to publish a Worst of Work compilation.
In the end, I decided to compromise, consolidating all petty annoyances into a single dump. I figure: I’ll have last hurrah, one super-whiny airing of grievances on the subject, and then it’ll all be over. It’ll go into a locked chest somewhere in my mind — accessible, but not without some effort.
So in the grandest work-sucks-balls spirit possible, I bring you the Litany of Office Hate.
Fair warning: If you haven’t figured it out by now, this is going to be an absurdly negative entry. Don’t read it if you’re easily offended or people going on rants make you squirrely. It’s anti-stoic and unfiltered bitching, the kind of thing I’d be pretty embarrassed showing to someone much worse off than me; total first-world problems of privilege.
It’s shameful, it’s gross, it’s hate-porn.
And here it comes.
I hate getting myself to work every morning. I hate sitting in a car, stuck in traffic, driving to a place I don’t want to be to do things I don’t care all that much about. I hate knowing I’m wasting gas, polluting the environment, and spending money in order to drive myself to a cube where I’ll spend most of the day sitting, punching buttons on a plastic rectangle.
I hate fighting for a parking space and noticing that executives have spots right next to the door. I hate that even though I have no desire for one of these status symbols, I still notice these things. I hate that I sometimes briefly consider keying the cars.
I hate pretending like I want to be there when I don’t. I hate being fake and peppy, keeping a benign smile on my face and making small-talk even if I don’t feel so hot. I hate when I notice that other people are faking it, too — I wish I could tell them that it’s OK to be real with me, that I don’t want to go through the motions, either.
I hate reviews. I hate self reviews and peer reviews, reviews of vendor products, reviews of prospective hires, and reviews of managers. I hate setting goals for myself for the following year. I hate having goals set for me. I hate how the bar always goes higher, never lower, never laterally or even in a circular motion. Just: Higher. I hate how I feel compelled to pretend that I like this ridiculous model because it’s “challenging.” I hate getting something done and seeing the ambitious glint in my manager’s eye that shows he’s thinking about how to publicize the accomplishment and capitalize on it to benefit his own career. I hate sometimes recognizing that there’s ambition in me, too, and I hate that I can’t entirely remove it.
I hate the use of jargon and Three Letter Acronyms (TLAs). I hate MBAs, MBOs, SLAs, SOAs, and having to CYA. I hate people who ask for things to be completed ASAP or, worse, fucking yesterday. I hate getting an email from someone asking for help and before I’ve even had time to read the whole thing noticing that they’re already calling me. Or they’ve shown up in my office. Or they’ve already sent a follow-up email asking for status with a single obtuse word in the message body: UPDATE?
I hate when people email me and CC my manager on the very first communication, the insinuation being that they think I’m not going to help them unless someone positioned above me in the hierarchy of command is watching over me to make sure I get Mr. Task done.
I hate having to work with people who obviously don’t want to work at all. I hate booking time to collaborate with people who possess personalities I am not compatible with and then being subjected to stumbling attempts at socialization, maybe someone arguing that How I Met Your Mother is the greatest sitcom of all time and I’m forced to admit that I’ve only seen a single episode and I have virtually no opinion on it whatsoever other than Alyson Hannigan is cute and they go on and on about why aren’t I watching it and so on until I wish I could unleash lightning on them from my hands, Emperor-style, not because I want to hurt them necessarily but rather because it’s hard to talk when you’re being electrocuted.
I hate the word collaborate. And network when used in a non-computing sense. And liaison especially when conjugated as a verb, like: I need you to liaise with Santa Claus ASAP.
I hate documenting the use of my time, filling out time-sheets that book hours against specific projects so that other people in the organization can further optimize the use of human resources. I hate that there is such scrutiny over where people are “spending their hours” as if it’s some great mystery that, when solved, will bring enlightenment to the entire department, improving efficiency by 4,000% and making the stock rise by a quadrillion orders of magnitude. I hate being angrily reminded by management to fill out these online forms out if I’ve forgotten to do it myself, as if I’ve just committed a felony.
I hate working with idiots in their mid-50s with teenage kids and $500 monthly bills to MegaMedia for cable, cell phones, DVRs, internet access and satellites, multiple $600 leases for big SUVs, a boat and a summer home. I hate listening to them bitch about how they’re underpaid or they just can’t make ends meet in these trying economic times and then immediately watching them go out to blow $15-20 on lunch. Every. Single. Day.
I hate going to vendor meetings and evaluating new products. I hate working on project plans. I hate coming up with lists of people we might need for any particular initiative and working with their managers to secure them. I hate coming up with estimates of hours to complete each task, especially when I know practically nothing about the effort required.
I hate Microsoft Outlook. And Microsoft Office. And Microsoft Project. And Microsoft Visio. I hate company wikis where employees all post updates about what they’re working on and share their ideas for new projects and initiatives as if it’s a grand competition, fun for the whole family, a nothing more than a jolly game of Corporate Twister.
I hate watching people scurry around obeying commands of people they’re scared of. I hate it when my manager is in a room with a bigwig who is setting unreasonable project deadlines and demands and he just bends over and takes it instead of pushing back. I hate smelling the fear and witnessing the weakness.
I hate doing things this way because they’ve always been done this way and you can’t fight city hall and any and all other dumb excuses which prevent a re-evaluation which might, god forbid, lead to improved employee happiness.
I hate the days when I don’t have enough to do because I’m then trying to figure out how to book seven or eight hours to projects when I didn’t actually work seven or eight hours. I hate having too much to do and having difficulty being able to turn off my thoughts about work even when I’m home and ostensibly relaxing. I hate being on-call. I hate the fact that people with salaried jobs are frequently asked to work unpaid overtime but when things are slower they are rarely given the opportunity to leave work early — I hate that there’s no undertime.
I hate pinging people for status updates, asking if they’re on track and listening to a list of excuses why they’re behind, then feeling compelled to prod them anyway because deadlines on projects are looming and other people are prodding me and I realize that what I really am is the final section in the world’s longest poking stick.
I hate pulling groups of people together to work on an emergency kaboom-type issue that needs to be solved. I hate being pulled into a war room by another team. I hate opening tickets with vendors and then organizing conference calls with so-called invested parties so we can have as many eyes as possible looking at any particular issue, the coordination, the web meetings, the dropped calls, the mistyped email addresses and fat-fingered phone numbers, the bad connections that lead to audio screeching on the speaker, wind in the phone, problems with signal strength, problems with people not understanding how to press mute when their dogs are going nuts or they’re trying to secretly do dishes or touch themselves around the no-no zone.
I hate being expected to come up with new projects and initiatives on my own because this shows to management how plugged into the company I am. I hate that work takes over my mind — that my thoughts become focused on solving problems or implementing projects, as though I’m a CPU added to the corporate hive’s data center. I hate that I’m expected to be part of this machine, body and soul, to utterly devote myself to it. I hate watching other people suck up and smelling the odor of human evacuation coming off of their noses. I hate it most when I realize the smell is coming off my own.
I hate that this parade of things that I hate lasts for five straight days and after two short days that usually are devoted to catch-up life and family maintenance at a breakneck pace you are back to day one of another five day cycle.
I hate the fact that even though I generally enjoy my core function, it typically constitutes only a third of my week and the remaining time is filled less-than-awesome stuff like meetings and mandated social events (team lunch! hooray!) and all sorts of other stuff that doesn’t feel important or necessary and usually isn’t fun but I somehow have to do anyway or I’m not a team player.
Most of all, I hate that it’s all the same. I hate that every week resembles every other week much more than it does not. I hate the lack of variety, and the fact that the repetition pulls at me, drags me down, suffocates my enthusiasm and results in depressing thoughts entering my head, like: I can’t believe I’m doing this shit again, please dear god, holy fuckballs, no. I hate that even if you leave your company and go to a new one you will, in short order, find new things to hate and they will be frighteningly similar to the things you hated at your previous employer because in the end, there’s not all that much differentiating one workplace prison from another.
I absolutely love the fact that being financially independent allows me to leave all of this behind.
Love, love, love.
** Feel free to add to this list in the comments. I’m sure I’ve left plenty of things out…. Believe it or not, I ran out of steam.
** This is for all of the people who say “Oh, but you have to retire TO something!!” Yeah, that’s the ideal. But if your house is burning, you don’t check the weather outside before running out the damned door.
And you don’t go back in.