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On unequal jobs and slacking (and other things)

So I just came from a meeting with my boss. Turns out, he just figured out (half of) the problem I have with this job: the fact that I never get nearly as many assignments as my coworkers and thus I give off the appearance of slacking or being super efficient (due to all the free time I have). He realized the girl in the cubicle next to mine gets easily twice the assignments anyone else gets and, other things being equal, means she has twice as much work to do than the rest.

The other half of the problem he didn't realize, but I figured out a long time ago: the fact that I lack initiative to actually ask for assignments when I have little to do.

I'm not proud of it, of course. Being reactive rather than proactive has brought me trouble in the past. I nearly blew my thesis because I slacked and I only got around to actually writing when my adviser was on my tail. Sometimes I think I got my degree because the FSM worked his noodly miracles upon me.

I don't mean to say I do nothing at all here. At least once a week I have to work outside of this office giving demos to prospective clients, picking up this or that document, serving as a delivery boy (on account of me having almost free access to bicycles), a report on this or that paper on water technology and so and so. But when it comes to the big projects, knowing who is our client, what are we selling them, how is the sale going and so and so, I never get as much as a memo from my coworkers (on the other hand, I never ask for one).

All of this makes me think of the question shared with a friend during lunch today: Why am I here? I know a job is not always a joyful task and many people out there have no jobs and no way to sustain themselves. In this regard, I do have a blessing.

But I also have to think about how much I'm investing in this job, how much effort I'm actually putting into it. I think that, maybe except extraordinary situations, I should at least give the metaphorical extra mile. It's not fair to be sitting here browsing the entire e2 database just to get a good chuckle if others have a lot of work to do and we're part of the same team (as in, we can all be canned together if the situation calls for it).

So on one side there's the obvious solution: pick up my slacking and start being more proactive, just like middle managers say us ants should be. I'm not terribly excited by this idea, but I know it's my adult responsibility. Not everything in life will be easy and maybe this is the kind of things that will define me as a "winner or quitter" of sorts. Maybe I'll get a life just like those motivational posters say.

On the other side, there's the fact that getting a new job is quite a difficult task, even if you're not a Class B procrastinator like me. There's the resume update, the search, the interviews. Sure it's easier when I have a paying job, but it doesn't make it any more pleasant (and I haven't even talked about the side effect of being absent at my work and risking the word of me looking for greener fields getting out). But maybe I can be motivated in another line of work (and I've been motivated by volunteer work, but I think the causality here is a bit blurred)

 


I wrote the words above right after the meeting happened. That was sometime around 5 PM and now it's 8:30 PM, I'm in my house and I read Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter on my way home. I'm slightly more calm now, thinking that there is truth after all in what my boss said. Still, I caught myself looking at the Jobs @ Google page, wondering whether any one of those jobs are as good as they seem and whether I can, one day, have a job like that.

It's not that I'm crazy about having a job of any kind, I just want the money and some time to myself. If I manage to save enough money, I'd like to be like that Mr. Money Mustache and live a job-free life. Then I may work for my own (intellectual) interest rather than out of the simple need to eat every day.

I want to invest my days in a life full of things to do. A life in which I can get to know the city I live in. A life in which I don't waste the better part of a day sitting on a desk, wasting daylight and a few sunrises and sunsets.

Maybe I could be a teacher. I know it's time consuming and ungrateful and more often than not goes unnoticed. My mom was a teacher years ago and I remember her in the pile of exercises and essays to be reviewed. Notebooks dedicated to catching the smallest things about her students, the ins and outs of their minds, a way of understanding them so she could serve them better. I know it consumes time and has little pay, but if I had enough money, I'd like to teach. I don't know what, but something. 

I don't know. Life sure is complicated and maybe all of this are dreams, castles in the air. Maybe they will never materialize and maybe I'll be stuck in this hamster wheel chasing after something better. It scares the living shit out of me, and I certainly don't want to end up like that, but I sometimes think I'm coward enough to stay here just because it looks safer than whatever is out there.


Today is Vane's birthday. I suspect she's cast me out of her life and I don't want to force myself in. The thing is, she never quite closed the door between us. I still can get a hold of her without much effort and using the bonds that still exist and that she could have cut months ago.

But I hesitate. I don't want to bother her. I don't want to be an add-on in her life. I fear our friendship is lost and might never be recovered. That too scares me. She's one of the persons I love most in my life. I don't want her out.

But then again, "Life" doesn't give a shit about my choices, wants and needs, right?

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