Posted by: terrapraeta | January 6, 2010


you said you needed full time help
cos you’re all alone
I said i’d work for nothing at all
if I just could take you home

and now you’re taking applications
for your love
you wanted certain specifications
I circled the one that said all the above

work… for love

Ministry, Work For Love

Last week I had one of my worst day ever.

Some days I really don’t feel like being at work. Some days I feel really burned out and feel like I can’t take any more. But fundamentally, I really love my job. I don’t ever have to take it home with me – tangibly or in my head. I make really decent money for the place that I live. I have respect and even friendship with most of my co-workers. And in general, working will improve my overall mood, rather than wrecking it. Its a good combination.

A little over a week ago, we lost ¾ of our kitchen staff over the course of three days. These are the same boys I wrote about before, that re getting a new place, setting up a business and offering me a site for a tipi. So the biggest reason for the drama was a combination of excitement and stress over getting their new gig set up. Our kitchen is not terribly well paid (for this places economy its not horrible, but its not great either), and sometimes the vibe in the back gets pretty ugly. Basically, the only time they were at all happy with their job was when I was the one managing the place. That weekend, me being around was not enough, so we had a landslide, first one then the next saying f*** you to the owners.

The whole situation put me in the middle. Partly because of the simple fact that I am a manager. Partly because I am friends with the boys, and I am friends with the owners. And partly – or even mostly – because I live in the middle. See, having grown up when and how I did, I get my boss. I understand how she sees the world, how she reacts to things, the assumptions that define her life. But, at the same time, I have spent the last ten years questioning those same assumptions – and discarding them. As a result, I understand the boys, too. And fundamentally, I agree with them.

So in the things that happened, I saw and recognized the failings on both sides. The boys were first to apologize for me getting stuck in the middle. And I explained just what I said above and we were all good. They are still my friends. By New Year’s Eve day, my boss had worked herself into a really anxious place, sat me down and almost accused me of conspiring with them to quit all at once and not tell her. The result? We sat and yelled at each other for a good twenty minutes… me explaining to her the things she had done to cause the situation, or at least contribute to it. She didn’t get it. She questioning my actions and knowledge. She absolutely accepted that her paranoia was nothing more than that. So we both felt better and were ready to get back on track with daily life.

Later that day, while taking a break from work, I talked to the boys and found out that someone had made a bunch of anonymous calls to their past and future landlords (this being the day of the move) talking smack. All kinds of crap about their activities and intentions. Needless to say, the hot-tempered Italian I work for was the natural suspect.

I took it all in, went back to work, did my job. Spent the later evening in and out of the bar, slept too little that night and woke up the next morning overwhelmed with all kinds of thoughts about this turn of events. In other words, I brooded on it for some hours before going to work on New Year’s Day.

When I got in, I was a total wreck. I knew I had to sit down with the boss and confront this – just as she had done with me the day before. But confrontation is not my strong suit. And I was very much caught up in the thought that if she did this I could no longer work for her. Partly, just because of my own sense of ethics. Partly, because I had to acknowledge that if she did this to them, I could be next. I mean, what if she had not believed me the day before? What if that had ended with me leaving the job? Would she have then called everyone in town and told them how horrible I was? And partly, because I could not, and can not, see myself working for someone that values products over people to that extreme level.

So all afternoon I worked myself up more and more. Finally, my daytime co-worker volunteered to stay and cover the shift if I wanted to go home and get some rest. Man, did I. When the relief of not having to stay for a few more hours hit me, I kinda lost it. Made my way into the office and promptly burst into tears. Balled my fricken’ eyes out.

Right in the midst of this, my boss walked in. She asked if she could do something and I said yeah… we need to talk. So we did. She absolutely insists that she did not do this thing. And as she pointed out, if she had, she would be the first one to proclaim it (“admit” is too soft a word!) So we talked for a while, she filled me in on yet more drama that was occurring, talked a little shop otherwise, and then I packed up and went home for the day. Took a nice ling nap.

In the evening, the boys came by and told me more of what was going on from their perspective. I was still kinda depressed, so this did not help. But at the same time, talking always helps. After they went home for the night, I got my butt up and headed over to the bar. For a while it did not help, but there were people around that I like, and eventually they got me smiling. One good friend of mine made the simplest statement – you have plans, so regardless, stick with it so you can do what you intend to do. That and the smiling (smiling releases chemicals that make you happy, just like being happy makes you smile. Good stuff)finally got me out of my slump and I had a good evening. Went home, got some sleep and woke up the next morning ready to get back to business.

I have a rule. No matter how bad things get, I only allow myself one day to wallow in it. Friday, it was the end of the world, based on the crippling emotional conflict I was feeling. Saturday, I decided to keep my job and life was good, again. Not perfect, not without conflict, not without stress. But still fundamentally good. Learning not to drag it out has been one of the most valuable lessons ever 🙂


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