Saturday, August 13, 2011
Lesson 11: Blessing In Disguise
Well I got fired yesterday. First time ever. Brutal.
I really can't say I was surprised. I couldn't help but have this overwhelming feeling that I'd been hired as part of a sick joke, and everyone was waiting for me to quit. The first week I felt awkward, but I tried to convince myself it was all a part of just being new. By the second week I was excluded and ignored, then after my boss "had words" with me, I felt like everyone was confused that I kept showing up. If I asked a question I was ignored, and if I made a statement I was met with condescending stares and then a rapid change of subject. The pit of my stomach grew heavier by the day.
Finally, when my boss made a snide comment yesterday morning about whether or not I was "capable" of doing an aspect of my job (something an 8 year old could've done), it was that last straw. "It's a shame you feel I'm incapable of doing my job," I said. "Because I know I am fully capable of doing it, and doing it well. If this is how it's going to be than you need to make an executive decision because I'm not going to be bullied into quitting."
Well apparently an executive decision was made, because as of 2:00 yesterday afternoon, I was told I "Just wasn't a good fit." No sh*t I wasn't a good fit. I was miserable. I've been losing sleep for the last two weeks. I typically go for a run or a swim everyday, but the last 14 days? I've gone twice. On Tuesday my boyfriend and I were driving around town looking at future dream houses when he said, "I wish we lived in that house." I replied with, "I wish it was Friday," and started crying.
Here's something that will put it into perspective. Last Wednesday, after finishing five hours of typing while incarcerated in my solitary cubicle, I opened my notebook and wrote this:
There's nothing quite as depressing as the sound of silence in a cubicle.
The incessant buzzing of the air conditioner and the relentless squeaking of a run-down office chair fills the air, broken only by the telltale sound of an employee attempting to surreptitiously remove the Ceran wrap from her late lunch. Fingers scurry across keyboards, mouses click, and chipper voices answer phones with that identical artificially caring voice they've used for the last 10 years. I sit in the back, as close to the only window as possible, undaunted by the measly view it provides. The sight of the adjacent building, just two feet away, is the only connection I have to a world outside my own. This, ladies and gentlemen, is my nightmare.
I have decided that an office is the ultimate prison; one designed to keep its prisoners willingly confined, brainwashed by the sight of the strategically placed metaphorical carrot just inches beyond their grasp. I feel as if I have signed a contract without reading the fine print, ushered ahead to the next important benefit while passing over the sacrifices needed to reach said benefit. Even the fluorescent lights above flicker to remind me of the task at hand, like the most effective of prison guards; jarring and emotionless.
I stare at the computer screen before me and click my pen against my teeth, the scent of Windex and carpet hanging in the air. This is not my computer. This is not my desk. This is Patty's desk, and hers is the bar to which all following cubicles will be measured. Her functional knick-knacks confuse me, and I feel even more out of place. A container of goo meant to make your fingers sticky (for turning pages) and a bottle of Germ-ex sit directly next to the keyboard. I do not own a bottle of Germ-ex. I welcome the dirt and grime of the natural world. Oh how I long for the touch of grass...
Next to a colorful array of pens (the likely only allowed form of creativity or self-expression), is a palm tree post-it note container, symbolizing the relaxing beach she has probably desperately been saving her vacation days for. Everyone knows Patty doesn't like to travel though, her cat gets car sick. It's a shame, really. She has months worth of vacation days saved up, and her cat no doubt could benefit from a day outside its one bedroom apartment. Her planner hangs on the cork-board to the right, rows of assignments filling it: typing, filing, interviewing, typing, staffing. Every summer this will be how I spend my time. I am the next generation of Patty's.
But the most disheartening trinket of all, is the digital calender on her computer that displays a different "inspirational phrase" daily.
Today's? "Smile. I like your sense of humor." Wait, what? A computer is telling me it likes my sense of humor? I have already discovered that no one in this particular job likes my sense of humor, so it's ironic that a computer would have that opinion. Rather, I think it's mocking me. Mocking my lack of humor and instead exposing my dutiful, uninspiring appropriateness that has replaced it. Within three weeks my wit has given way to internal cynicism. I used to be funny.
My stare is broken by the flicker of the fluorescent prison guard. Back to work. Deep breaths...
So it's safe to say I'm quite relieved to not have to go back on Monday. Also I believe I have now developed an irrational fear of palm tree post-it note containers.