Sunday, March 12, 2006

Nickels & Dimes

if i had a nickel for every time someone told me to exercise caution in what i post here because it might catch up with me at my day job, i could cobble together about thirty cents. yeah, i think i’ve heard that advice about six times. i refuse to heed it and heel to it, however, cus i’m a wild and crazy nonconformist. with a day job. working in finance. corporate as it comes.

i know some work peeps have found this thing and commented to me about it. for all i know, more could be reading -- perhaps during work hours! -- and i could not care less. this is the internet. it’s the most public of spheres, and i’m well aware that anyone can see this. so don’t go telling me to be careful about sharing racy details about my life when i’ve never once mentioned the name of the company i work for nor have i discussed work matters here. keeping this thing going for three years has already required plenty of self-censorship and has turned me into a person with very little shame. and who the hell wants to read a sanitized version of history, with all its wars and famines and struggles omitted? yeah, yeah. i’m all about keeping it real. word to your mother.

march 14 makes one year that i’ve been with my current job and to commemorate the occasion, my boss kindly sat me down and gave me my annual review. seems just like yesterday i was asking the world to congratulate me on my hiring. i definitely made the right choice by taking this job. it’s done much in this past year to get me situated and stable. and, more importantly, it’s allowed me to splurge on new couches, cookware, an iBook, lots of clothes and other assorted goodies.

i love the expression, “work like you don’t need the money.” what bullshit! because if i didn’t need the money, i might stroll in at noon and put my feet up while i used my office line to make long distance phone calls. that’s “working” like you don’t need the money. i work like i need to pay my rent. i work because i prefer lobster to canned tuna. a girl’s gotta eat, and when she’s a single mother of a dog with bad hips, she works because she has to, not because she wants to. with that in mind, i don’t LOVE my job, but i do LIKE it, and that’s enough to keep me there indefinitely.

but back to the review... i was expecting the worst because i’ve spent years conditioning myself to be fatalistic. i walked in a bit nervous and jittery, eager to get to the “merit increase” portion of the program. my boss started by thanking me for the great contribution i’ve made to the company in the past year. i perked up and smiled. he then went on with more thanks and gratitude, talking about my great reputation as someone people like working with because i’m reliable and organized (what? me, organized?!), and that i’ve proved myself to be a quick learner and general badass adored by fans worldwide. then the lights dimmed and he broke into an oddly groovy rendition of m.c. hammer’s “U Can’t Touch This” while i bopped my head approvingly to the beat. even his corporate slacks expanded into parachute pants for the moment.

ok, i’m embellishing that last part, but it had that same feel-good vibe going on. and the feeling good didn’t stop as he told me lots of nice things other people said about me before he announced the smile-inducing percentage that described my merit increase, which is reflected in my next paycheck. the only disappointing part in the litany of lovely adjectives he used to describe me as an employee -- dedicated, hard-working, dependable, diplomatic, good listener -- is that neither he nor anyone else thought i was “funny” or had a “great sense of humor.” i mean, what the fuck?

then we get to the tricky “areas for improvement” portion of the program and i thought to myself, “here it comes.” but that still turned out well, with general suggestions for learning the industry better and becoming a resource to others. and here i was expecting the “we’ve noticed that you don’t ask others about how their weekends went” and “you seem to arrive 10 minutes late every day but still leave at five on the dot.” but nope, only the good stuff.

by the end of it, i’m sure a blush had crossed my face. compliments embarrass me, despite how badly i want to hear them. he ended it by saying, “you fit in so well here. you’re really one of us.” come again? have i joined a corporate circus? how can i be one of them when i’m supposed to be a racy nonconformist? i have my nose pierced, for god’s sake. i was taken aback, but still managed to utter “thank you” through a gritted smile as i left his office.

then it hit me: i’ve morphed into a good employee, the corporate schlub i feared turning into. one step closer to becoming my parents. i have a retirement account with my name on it. i have weekly work meetings i must attend and “action items” i must complete. sometimes the monotony of my days underwhelms me to the point where i feel like stowing myself in the stern of a ship and sailing into a new existence. other times the predictability pleases me immensely.

i don’t mind the real world so much, but the responsibilities of adulthood can be suffocating. turning 30 in june only compounds the matter. oy, these growing pains. a vestige of my once carefree youth would be welcome right about now. on second thought, i think i’d rather have a new car.

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