Friday, October 26, 2012

Why I'm ready for my trained monkey now

I don't have much to say, anymore, and I don't want to write about work, but today my boss told me I'm "very good at filling in forms." He said it as a compliment, and I made a joke about it--I'll put it on my resume!--but then he insisted that it was indeed a skill that not everyone was capable of, example this guy... I took the form (already completed by this guy--shoddily, we can only assume) and prepared to copy the information over to a template of the exact same form but in a Word file, and with his words still echoing in my head I started thinking about what else I am good at at work. Printing checks and putting them in envelopes and mailing them. I am goddamn good at that, I thought. Then I thought, goddammit.

And this is not about the little girl with dreams of being a veterinarian/teacher/librarian and how strange she would have thought it had she known that the pinnacle of her professional achievements would consist of sealing envelopes, I swear to god it's not. It's more about how many people are working so far below their abilities; me and every other  person who could easily be replaced by a trained monkey at their place of employment; and it's not a judgement, but more just a reflection on what the world could be if everyone in it was doing everything they are capable of. But if everyone was doing everything they are capable of, then who would fill in the forms? Who would seal the envelopes? But you know, it's not that I mind doing those things. And if I was doing those things as a necessary part of my Very Important and Challenging Yet Rewarding Work, then I would be absolutely fine with that. It's not that I feel like it's beneath me, or anything. But when those things are all there is, then suddenly, it's like, shit, man... This is all there is.

I feel like I need to add a caveat here, stating that, as always, this post is not about you. I am not judging your job or aspirations. It can be great to have an easy and boring job; I know this. To get paid for doing it! It seems almost insane if you think about it too closely. I know it's a gift horse. And I'm staring right into its gaping maw. 

The thing is, I am not doing anything else of consequence with my life, at the moment. I am not doing this job and raising a family. Or doing this job and going out every night. Or doing this job and any other thing that might make it all worthwhile. So when I work myself into a hand-wringing panic wondering if this is all there is, the worst part is knowing that actually, it kind of is.

And look! I have managed to write yet another goddamned depressing post that makes people not want to look me directly in the eye. 


Call it even?  


  1. I don't know, I think on the contrary it'd make me want to look you in the eye because you're telling the truth. At least you recognize it. You can still change it. It'd be sad to spend one's whole life doing something not worthwhile and then suddenly realize it and regret it.

  2. Have you considered doing NaNoWriMO?

    The reason why I ask is because I see that thing YOU do as writing. so why not, right!

  3. I second NaNoWriMo; it can be grueling (indeed, I didn't finish when I tried it), but it's such a great community and it's a great feeling to feel like you're *part* of something. Even having "failed" I succeeded because I participated and wrote more fiction pages at a stretch than I ever had before. Plus, grousing about how difficult writing is is a timehonored tradition, so you'll have a ready-made entry.

  4. There is no job involving Very Important and Challenging Yet Rewarding Work. There are jobs that fit your current preferences and lifestyle better and worse. When the two get too far apart, you should consider other options. It will always be up to you to create meaning in your life and I know that is currently a depressing weight for you, but it can also be liberating. I work at a soul crushingly busy and challenging job. Believe me when I say it does not fill the holes of peoples' lives here in any positive way.

  5. The older I get, the more I realize that almost no one does Important and Challenging Yet Rewarding work, at least not most of the time. Even most people with awesome careers (or awesome relationships or awesome kids or awesome social lives or whatever) have to empty the dishwasher and clean up dog vomit and do other dumb but necessary shit. And a lot of those people stuffed envelopes and filled out forms at some point. Someday you'll find a Thing that you Enjoy (instead of a Job you Tolerate), but there'll be plenty of days you'll feel like it's meaningless crap. (Or so I imagine. Most days, I feel like I'm still looking.)

    And shit, just because you are good at filling out forms doesn't make you less good at anything else. Not everyone gets equal amounts of awesomeness; you may just be funny, smart, an excellent writer AND effing awesome at filling out forms. And probably a zillion other things I don't know about because I only know you on the internet. There is not a finite number of things that a person can be good at.

    P.S. You are a great writer. I would read your grocery list (mostly because I'm nosy and weird and socially awkward, but also because if you wrote it, it would be awesome).

    P.P.S. I am on cold medicine, so I blame that if none of this makes sense.