Dispatches from the Suburbs of Hell

Heaven is for the obedient. Hell is for the wrathful. What of the ones in between? We wind up in the Suburbs. Our sin is individuality. Our punishment is boredom. But at least we're in good company.

Location: New England, United States

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Back At It, Take Two

Well, I have completed my first week of my new job. And it's a good job. A fun environment, an interesting line of work...and of course, it's a job. Employment is good.

For those of you not hanging on my every word and unfamiliar with my employment saga, I will sum up: this is the fourth job I've held so far this year, and All Gods And Demons Willing, I will be holding it for a long time to come. I lost my job at a magazine when the magazine closed its local office. That was in January. In February I took a job at a nonprofit service agency, but I didn't like it all that much. In April, I left that job for a wholesale company, and I lasted until June. Now I've got a new job, and I think I'm gonna like it here.

This year has been a strange one, with its ups and downs. And it's been a humbling experience. I've always had an opinion of myself which has been revealed to be...a bit overinflated, shall we say. I always thought I could do ANYTHING. I've been made aware of my limitations. I've learned humility, and I've learned the value of sometimes leaving well enough alone. I left the service job because it was bad, and I took the wholesaling job because I thought it would be interesting. It turned out to be the worst experience of my professional life, and I was fired at the end of May. Getting fired is a unique experience for me. I tend to be loyal to a place once I find my niche. I never found my niche at this place. I don't know if that speaks to a fault in me or a fault in the place, but it was humbling to realize I really couldn't fit in there. Maybe something's wrong with me. Or maybe this is just part of the process of growing up. Learning what you can and can't do.

I've always found looking for a job to be far more stressful than working, and June was a very stressful month for me. This last period of unemployment lasted longer than any I've had in a long while, and while I was glad to see it end, it gave me an opportunity to take stock of my life up to now. See where I am, what I need to be doing. There is much that's unfinished. The worst part of being unemployed isn't just being unemployed. It's being home during the work day and seeing what goes on in your neighborhood when you're not there. It's seeing the state of your fellow unemployed men, and coming to terms with unpleasant facts.

I enjoy being employed. I enjoy being a productive member of society. Filing for unemployment was a moment of personal humiliation for me. It felt like I was admitting a great failure. And I'm sure that I'm not alone in that respect; I'm sure many people who are on unemployment would much rather be working. But then there are the guys in my neighborhood. The ones who aren't even trying any more. The ones living off their girlfriends or their mothers. The ones so strung out that they need a Red Bull to get started in the morning (that alone is a thing to be despised). It's with a mixture of pity and disgust that I regard these men. I mean, they couldn't have started out like that. They must have had hopes and dreams once, right? Must have had some kind of ambition beyond being a Wellfare case. It was unsettling to venture out mid-morning and see them mill around, eyes devoid of hope or aspiration. It made me think of my cousin. He must have had a life's ambition, once upon a time. Before he became jobless and broke at age 40, embittered at his lot in life, that bitterness fermenting into paranoia and racism, until finally he crossed a line, and that was that. What happened? What causes the squelching of human potential? Is it some character flaw in the individual? It is just a series of twists of fate that leads a person down a certain road? And could it happen to me? I'm not that different, after all. I had hopes for a better life once, and dashed hopes always lead to bitterness. Where could that bitterness take me? It's not hard to see myself going down that road. It wouldn't take much. Just a nudge down a slippery slope of anger, and that would be it for me.

But I guess there is some hope left alive. I mean, I got myself a job, and it's a good job that pays pretty well. Well enough for me to move somewhere else? Maybe. Somewhere nicer? We'll see.


Anonymous portraitinflesh said...

Oh, this has been a week of professional bitterness. Getting to the point where I just about get nudged up to the level I need to be (so say the degrees and certifications), only to be put neatly back into my place by having to clean up others' messes. (Delegate the easy work, they tell me. Charming theory, but when I end up spending more time going back to correct the "easy work" than it would have taken me to do it myself to begin with, it begins to look like an exercise in futility.)

But...all that's beside the point. The important thing is you kept looking, Anarq; you didn't give up completely, even when you had every right to be bitter over how things were going.

Now if you can just curtail your surfing urge during productive work hours, you'll be fine. ;)

8:04 PM, July 26, 2007  

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