The Corporate Nanny State

Just the other morning in the office break room, I was overly tired and pouring myself a cup of “complimentary coffee”. A co-worker of mine swept in with some unnatural morning sunshine and made the comment, “Kick-starting your work ethic?”

“I guess,” I offered ambivalently.

She looked a little puzzled and said, “I thought you were really happy in your new position?” To this, I responded, “I absolutely love what I do, but I do not love WHEN I have to do it. I am not a morning person – whatsoever.” She seemed to shrug off my qualitative statement and just had to throw in the sarcastic “one explanation fits all” judgment: “There’s always something wrong, isn’t there?”

"Insomnia Sleeper" by John Jude Palencar

“Insomnia Sleeper” by John Jude Palencar

Normally, I would channel my rage into a cutting remark but I was so defeated by my lack of sleep I didn’t have the energy. However, the longer I absorbed that interaction in my mind, the angrier I became…and the more I inspected the thought of whether or not she may be right. After some careful deliberation, I determined that not physically feeling well due to lack of sleep is a very legitimate reason to not be happy. Aside from possibly winning the lottery or being proposed to by a decent partner, I can’t think of many things that would lift my spirits enough to change the fact that my bones feel like old iron pots and my skin hurts.

My mind made a leap-frog to an even bigger issue: Why the hell do people who have good work ethics and do their jobs well have to be at a prescribed building between certain hours of the day at all? Especially if they aren’t dealing with outside clients? And even if they are and 90% of the communication takes place by email, why can’t this be done from home? Heck, we even have cell phones that could handle the other 10%. Why are 30+ year old adults treated like toddlers in this day and age? I posed that question to another friend of mine who owns a blossoming business and he said, “Well, unless it is like a retail position, I imagine it is just because most employers don’t trust their workers enough to work from home or to work flexible hours. They think those people will fudge the system or take advantage of them, and honestly, a lot of them do when given the chance.”

Ok, fine. I admit some people may deserve the corporate shackle, but I’ve always been of the impression that if you give people a project and an allotment of time to do it, they either perform well or they don’t. And if they don’t, you get rid of them. I mean, if people weren’t actually working and projects were not getting done, someone is going to notice, right? Maybe I don’t know enough about the business end of it but it sure seems like allowing an employee some flexibility would mean a happier employee.

And after all, don’t you want someone who loves their job to do it when they feel their best? Seems like a logical way to improve your business, but I guess we’ll just keep doing things the way they’ve done them for hundreds of years because it’s too dangerous to think what might be actually good for the person could actually be good for your business.

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The 8 Hour Work Day Is Just A Container For Your Life

It’s been a while since I’ve written in these parts, but I wanted to take a brief moment and let a sliver of sunlight in…

I have been performing in my new position at my work; a position which allows me to be creative and operate on multiple channels of talent.  It had been so long since I did anything that made me exercise those muscles that I felt all my magical visions were laying like fish skeletons on a dry ocean floor.  Certainly, I am not back to my full strength yet, but the time I spend now feels like a tropical vacation compared to the dark prison of my past position. I think there is something powerful about allowing your talents out of their cage. We all have them…talents that is, not cages. And when you keep those talents under wraps they get angry.

Well, here I am months later and my mood has changed substantially. When I encounter problems now I think, “Well, isn’t this a pickle? I am sure it will turn out alright,” whereas before, a pen could roll off my desk at work and my first thought would be, “Why me? Why am I damned to this punishing existence?”

This leads me to my point. It’s not profound or enlightening. It’s just a reminder: If you have to spend 8 hours of your day doing something to make ends meet, fair enough. But never stop fighting to make it something that you enjoy. Pull those goddam boots out of the mud and walk. Keep walking. Walk until the leather peels away and the skin is worn. Move. Don’t accept defeat of this nature. Go back to school and learn something radically different. Volunteer to get the experience that you need if you can’t afford school. Help friends with whatever talents you have. Keep exercising your talent.

Oh, there will be crying alright. Perhaps screaming too. But once you break through, your crying and screaming will be in a different cadence. And you might look back from your sunny, new position and see a barren wasteland fraught with thorns and hungry animals and think, “Damn, I can’t believe I made it through.”