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into the wild

February 25, 2009

You know that elaborate quitting fantasy that you entertain every 3 hours at work in which you suddenly realize that you can’t take it anymore and suddenly someone (god are you there? it’s me margaret) is piping in this epic music and you are telling it like it is to your boss, and then walking out of the office forever?  Yeah, turns out everyone has that fantasy.  I mean the tones differ, but whether weary or self-righteously indignant they almost always involve slow-motion. 

I have two.  In the first I walk into X’s office and calmly say I will be terminating my employment, when he incredulously asks, “But WHY Ramona, WHY?”  I tell him that I hit my limit on abuse last Friday when he threatened to beat me because he had run out of berries for his morning smoothie.  Then I tell him that HE is unprofessional.  When he says, “But what will you do?”  I say, “Oh I wouldn’t worry too much about me. It’s you I’m worried about.”  And if anywhere I can reasonably work in this line stolen from American Beauty, “There’s a lot about me you don’t know Mr. Smarty Man,” I will.  Then I will bid him good day and tip my fedora, or something, I mean things get a little fuzzy toward the end here but you get the picture.  Think fierce like Sherlock Holmes mixed with Tyra Banks.

In the second scenario we are driving back from court and he starts yelling at me about some inanity like how toasty he wants the bread on his sandwich to be, and I leap out of the car, and scream that I am done with him and his extra toasty bread, to which he says something, to which I have an immediate and diabolically clever retort, and then the bike messengers who are dripping all over the stairs at 1 Post give me a standing ovation, and then I say, “There’s a lot about me you don’t know Mr. Smarty Man,” and walk up Market Street into the setting sun.

Yesterday, the paralegal came up to my desk and said, “How would you rather die?  Long illness or instant?”  “Definitely instant,” I say, since I know I’m the kind of person who would totally screw up long illness.  She goes with illness, and I think well of course, she has kids, she’d need a chance to say goodbye and make like a tape that they can play at their weddings in which she tells them how to do laundry and not get their hearts broken.  Then she looks at me and says, “Death is insane.  You get 80 YEARS,” she is incredulous, and I add, “If you’re really lucky you get 80.”  Then we just stare at each other and I know we’re both thinking the same thing, well what the hell are we doing here? 

So, in the end I went with Plan C, and walked into his office and said, “I don’t want to work here.”  To which he replied, “I’m not going to argue about this anymore.”  To which I said, “I know.”  We had grown weary and suspicious of each other.  

And with that I was willfully unemployed during the worst recession since the last worst recession, and not feeling too bad besides.

But how ever much you want to act like it isn’t, it’s always a bit disconcerting, to remove yourself from the fold.  They will of course go on without you.  Close up the space that was left in your absence, rally behind some new person.  You were never irreplaceable no matter what they might have said.  

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Kent McMIllan permalink
    February 26, 2009 5:36 am

    Well, you may have gotten the best material from that experience already, anyway. Conrad didn’t sail the same ship endlessly either, although possibly he left each engagement on slightly better terms.

    It sounds as if the deal breaker was simply dealing with an abusive boss. I suppose I’d worry about someone who wasn’t bothered by that.

    For future reference, though, I’d think that finding a job that doesn’t offend your fundamental personal values might be a good objective. Isn’t it going to have to pass that minimum standard to be sustainable anyway?

  2. Kent McMIllan permalink
    February 27, 2009 5:51 am

    By the way, I hope this isn’t an unwelcome reminder, but when you interviewed with Mr. X originally, didn’t you report that he or one of his associates had asked you how you liked being yelled at, or something like that?

    I’ve learned to trust some first impressions. If a first page is unpromising, I’m unlikely to give the second my attention. If someone makes an unusual and seemingly candid admission to someone they barely know, I tend to believe that there’s something behind it.

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