Paid to be Powerless


Again, we have a post that comes from a stream of thought already expressed in a series of tweets:

  • My job gets to me. I take things personally in both directions when someone has problems and I have to bother someone else to fix them.
  • And when I do bend over backwards and contort things to fit as best as possible the best response I get is “Well I guess that will do…”
  • People should be forgiven for honest mistakes and should be credited with creative solutions wraith [sic] the best tools available. Simple respect.
  • With, not wraith. Ugh. Not worth deleting and editing, because no one will thank me for it anyway.
  • It’s a frustrated, defeated, exhausted kind of day.

I try to keep work out of here and my Twitter stream for reasons that should be common sense by now: a) it’s boring, b) I like to use these tools to keep my mind off work when possible, and c) I don’t want to get fired or lose out on opportunities in the future by either identifying my employer or saying bad things about it or my coworkers.

But this does not name names, it’s not a personal grudge, and it doesn’t get into any specifics to the work that I do because it’s applicable to so many jobs out there. When I worked in a photo lab I felt similar, although it was to a lesser extent because disappointing individual customers seems less serious than disappointing business clients. And also because I was younger then, and years later I should have improved to perfection by now. But even in the field I’m working in now I can’t be omnipotent in fixing all problems, omniscient in providing all the answers, or omnibenevolent in thinking nobody’s in the wrong but me.

I spent periods of last weekend being angry about something work-related. I was kept there 15 minutes past quitting time on a Friday to put together a calm and coherent response to a dissatisfied e-mail that incorrectly blamed me for an error. I worried that weekend that my response may be interpreted as rude because I challenged/corrected an accusation, the desired solution wasn’t possible, and because the person was already frustrated enough. I thought that I would come in on Monday to an exploded situation. But instead had I stayed at work an extra five minutes, I would’ve received the response that conceded and compromised, and my weekend would’ve been greatly improved (except for being five minutes shorter). If I didn’t take things personally I wouldn’t have needed to pace myself in writing a response because I didn’t need to worry about cooling down enough, and I would’ve left on time. If I didn’t take things personally I wouldn’t have worried about this throughout the weekend. If I didn’t take things personally I would save myself a lot of trouble, including the risks associated with writing on the internet about work.


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