I met with my writer's social group last night. Only one other could make it so there was just the two of us, Becky and me.
I had decided to try a new place this social so we met at "The Playwright." I had two pints of Guinness and she drank Merlot. I also had an excellent hamburger, covered with mango chutney and crumbled blue cheese, while she had a toasty and cream of mushroom soup. Super.
Although Becky has published over fifty children's books, she works full time, from home, via the Internet. She has the joy of working for a company that publishes text books so she at least is in the writing and publishing business.
Besides that, her and my situation are similar. Our headquarters are on the east coast so we get up to start work at 6 to 6:30 most mornings. Turn on, connect, check for emails. She said she usually gets four in the morning. They don't have anything to do with her so she deletes them. Then she sits back, waiting to be told what to do. We spend nine clock hours managing our tasks, then we log off.
That's the official version. Unofficially, she turns to her personal computer and browses, and works on personal projects. Like me, she feels marginalized, and she's disappointed. She sends out emails with suggestions and observations, but rarely receive comments or feedback on them. She believes that it's only a matter of time before she's fired. She stays on so that she can collect unemployment, and maybe she'll get a severance package. Meanwhile, she's looking for other jobs.
She used to feel guilty that she wasn't working but there was no work. What could she do? She volunteered for projects but they forget to send her the call information. Each day, she talks and corresponds with them less and less, and she does less and less work.
From my point of view, I'm pleased to have company but the other aspect is, in how many other cities, towns, companies and communities is this happening? People are employed and want to work and contribute but management ignores them.
It changed our self image at first. Becky is a hard worker, by her claims, and conscientious. That's how I would describe myself. That's how many previous managers, supervisors and co-workers have described me for years, so I feel like that self-image has been vetted.
But both of us thought it through. First, we're hopeful that we'll be wanted and appreciated again. Put it at 5 on a scale of 0 to 100, where 0 means you've given up hope. Is it a reflection on us? Perhaps, but we've decided it's more a reflection of management and their poor skills. We feel guilty for being paid, and paid well, for not doing much, but when asked, we respond, and we're not the ones who leave us out and under-utilize us. We would quit but the way our society is structured, if you voluntarily quit a job, you don't receive any compensation. There is it, that money dragon, stalking every decision.
She doesn't feel hypocritical about that, but I do. About every week, I think, "Quit. It's appropriate. You're not working much, certainly not for the money you're being bad." But my boss tells me, "Hang in there, things are going to change, we need you," so I stay.
I believe him. I want to believe him. I received 15 emails this morning. Twelve were on the same subject being batted back and forth. None of them required anything from me.
I deleted them all.
Causes Michael Seidel Supports
Kiva, Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, Propublica.org, Doctors Without Borders, GreaterGood.com