Tuesday, November 29, 2011

30 Days

When I was unemployed, all I dreamed about was having a job. I thought, "Oh, man...if I could only have a job. I'd hug it and squeeze it and call it George..."

Well. Maybe not George, but you get the point. And when I finally got hired, I thought it was going to be great. After 30 months of scraping by, and it was the scraping that made an immediately identifiable fingernails down a chalkboard kind of sound, I thought I had scored a golden fucking ticket when I was offered a job. Oh, boy. It was going to be great. I'd have somewhere to go every day, meaningful things to do every day, people to talk to...every day... Oh, yessiree. It was going to be one giant possibility, and I was going to LOVE it.

Weirdly enough, I loved my old job. And so I automatically assumed that the new job was going to be just like the old one. It was a hard pill to swallow, learning that the new job wasn't anything like the old one.

No file access means I'm an editor and not a writer.
I can't update my own files. I have to hand-write them on a hard copy and then walk them over to a crabby woman who does the minimum. She won't ask for clarification. She won't spell check. She won't think. She'll just do.

Hand-written changes? I'm gonna need a LOT of correction fluid.
I haven't hand-written anything more than "Happy Birthday" or "Please return to sender" for 20 years, and I no longer think in terms of using a pen and paper to express my thoughts. I begin writing and then realize that what I've started isn't at all what I want to say, or I think of a better way to write it out mid-sentence...and then I want to re-write it all. On a computer, you just hit the backspace key. It's like it never existed and I hand over a finished product that looks neat and clean. On a piece of paper, however, I have to reach for the Liquid Paper for re-writes. My hard-copy edits sport scars, scratches and smears from improper or multiple applications.

Failing the Vulcan Mind Trick.
Guess what I'm thinking. No. Go ahead. Guess. The Jelly of the Month Club? Nope. I'm thinking of a number between 1 and 17,363. Guess which number. 7. No, that's not right. Guess again. 33. Nope. 732. Try it again. It's an even number. 9,214. How many times have you guessed? I don't have time for this.

My boss and I play this game a couple of times a week. I try to guess what she's thinking and she tells me I'm wrong. It's fun. When I try to anticipate, I'm smacked down for rushing into things. When I wait, I'm not proactive. When I ask questions, I'm being deliberately stubborn. I'm just not getting the work. I'm failing and it's my fault. Having so many years of experience, I should just KNOW. I'm not working up to my potential. Nobody has time for multiple rewrites...but let's just send out V1 to a client and see what happens. Oh. You've potentially jeopardized our client/corporate relationship by your mistakes...but nobody will show you the comments. They're just. so. long. Pages of comments. Oh. You've embarrassed the company. You've embarrassed me.

I interrupted this tirade: You sent it out without looking at it first?

She blinked: Yes.

I sat back: Oh. That's on you, then. I'm not taking responsibility for that.

30 days.
She signed my employee performance evaluation. F. I received an F. And she gave me a stern warning: If I didn't improve in 30 days, I'd be out on my keister.

Meanwhile, we've been meeting every week in her office. She wants to know how everything's going. I tell her it's fine. She tells me that my latest piece of writing needs changes. I make the changes. And then she "adjusts" them further, writing down how many times she has to look at my assignments before they're "client-worthy."

30 days comes up tomorrow. I'm not feeling good about it.

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