It is no secret that I am not driven by career ambition. I work to support myself because I am single and not possessed of an independent fortune. That’s the only reason.
I started working full time in 1990. From that year until April 2010, I was miserable. Sometimes I was acutely miserable. Sometimes I was vaguely miserable. There were short bouts of optimism (the four times I started new jobs and thought maybe this time I will like it!), bracketed by unhappiness.
When I started my current job, there was a rough patch during probation when I was worried things might not go well. But they did, and for three and a half years I have been … content. Seriously! It was a miracle, and I do not use that term lightly. I didn’t cry every day. I didn’t contemplate wild escape plans. I didn’t dread every waking weekday moment. It was glorious!
And then this week happened.
Unlike everywhere else I’ve ever worked (or heard of), my office does rotations. They periodically blow up everything and almost everyone changes into a different unit, regardless of their talents. If I ran the universe, people would be put where they’re good and left there to excel, but that’s not how it’s done.
I liked my quiet, very-little-interaction, routine job. I got rotated into Member Services. Strangers all day every day. They’re going to make me do presentations — me, who bribed my high school government teacher by offering to do two reports for every one everyone else did as long as I didn’t have to do oral reports; me, who speaks at lightning speed when she has to speak in public; me, the most introverted person anyone knows.
I cried throughout the entire department meeting and then sobbed in the bathroom for a half hour.
Later, I did talk to HR and to the Assistant Director and they’re being compassionate. My coworkers are being great. I am still sick to my stomach.
The flip side of this disastrous coin is that this, too, is temporary. Eighteen to thirty-six months and then, God willing, I will be rotated out of there, back into the back, away from the flood of strangers and public speaking.
The HR director, who is amazed that I can travel alone, asked the other day how I could do that if Member Services terrifies me. I told her that when you’re traveling, you are working within certain parameters. You know how airports work — SFO is different from Prague’s Ruzyne, yes, but they’re airports and they function essentially the same way. Cabs, hotels, museums, restaurants — all pretty standard. (Notice that I don’t go trekking through Nepal. I go to Europe.) Sure, there can be curve balls, but basically they’re within the limits you know and understand. When my luggage got lost, or when I got the 24-hour bug and was throwing up alone in Paris, then yes, I wanted someone with me. But even then, you know how it goes — luggage shows up eventually; you feel better eventually.
Also, in these cases, you’re the stranger someone else must assist. People will generally be nice to you, or at least neutral. In Member Services, though there are some parameters, I am not the person people need to be nice to. I’m the person who needs to be nice. I’m the person who needs to take it (to a certain extent) if people are nasty or difficult, when I shut down completely during confrontation. I either get furious or I want to cry, and in either case I am speechless.
The good part is that everyone is committed to making this as non-horrible as possible. I have awesome, awesome coworkers, for whom I am genuinely grateful. They were all deeply concerned and kind; no one was saying “Pfft! She needs to get the hell over it!” Thank God.
So that was my week of deep unhappiness. I fled Friday night and was so happy that this weekend is one hour longer than the usual. Now it’s Sunday. The rotation isn’t official until a week from Tuesday, when we get back from Veteran’s Day, but there will be transitional things this week. I am going to look into getting a better doctor at Kaiser so I can get better anti-anxiety meds, and otherwise I think I need to function on autopilot for a bit.
I did, however, write my NaNoWriMo quota last night.
I get one for every day I write my quota. I forgot to take one Friday so I had two yesterday.