This is ONE OF 3 responses to VC 25 Drury 20 ("Gotta love it")...
Drury (and this will probably shock John!), you've made some excellent points! Obvoiusly, every job situation is different. I can now speak from the standpoint of working for the same company, yet in a job where my talents are utilized and appreciated.
I think there were two parts to the problems I was having at PacBell Directory. First, I took a job I really didn't want out of desperation and fear. I had not worked in almost two months, and we were trying to live on $400 (less taxes, about $320!) a month (Eliott was an apartment manager at that time, so at least our rent was paid).
I don't think I had ever been at a lower point emotionally in my entire life. Not a very good place to be in when interviewing for a job! It got more and more difficult to appear perky and cheerful. When, as a temp, I was offered the job, I leapt at the chance, as I was convinced there would be no other opportunities for me coming along at any time in the near future.
Without being overly dramatic about everything Eliott and I went through emotionally and financially, I'll just say it was a pretty miserable time, and I'm sure I was just a wee bit overly sensitive and cynical about my situation at work. It was depressing to sit at a desk answering phones all day and to be treated by some people as if this were my first job out of high school! Because of our financial situation, I felt I couldn't just "quit and find another job." Besides, they were very few and far between, this time last year. Talk about feeling trapped!!
The second factor to my situation at work does have to do with the structure of the company and the overall corporate environment there. Yes, PBD does a lot for its employees. There is a huge book given to all employees describing the myriad of benefits available to all workers. I think the problem stems more from the attitude of SOME (by no means all) workers as they progress up the proverbial corporate ladder. I have never seen such pettiness as I witnessed in a few of the people! Unfortunately, just a few bad eggs can make me think the whole place is rotten.
One woman in particular comes to mind. She is the division secretary, but seems to think she is the executive director. When it was necessary for her to fill in at the reception desk, she made sure everyone knew what a big favor she was doing, and she left my desk an absolute disaster area when she finished!!! She was constantly giving me orders although it was not her position to do so. I think if I hadn't been so fearful of losing my job (which in retrospect was a bit paranoid of me), I would have spoken up. She really came across as someone who had a lot of influence on who continued to work at that position.
I'm finding out now that most of the people in our division are on to her power game, and that she is not very well liked. Most people simply avoid any interaction with her unless absolutely necessary. AND, I found out, she is especially nasty (i.e., threatened) by people with degrees (she doesn't have one) or more experience than her. My current boss, for one, wanted to know how I was able to stand working at the recepitonist position, with the managers I had to deal with!
I do feel much more optimistic now, and my self-esteem is coming back. It's been good to know that I wasn't the only one having problems with the group I was in, and that there are actually a lot of enthusiastic, positive people who work there. I'm learning a lot and like what I do.
Another interesting and somewhat annoying result of having been the receptionist - some people STILL don't trust me to work on their computers. They really think I'm brain-dead or something. I get an enormous amount of satisfaction when I'm able to solve their problem, and they just sort of look at me, dazed yet grateful!! I make an effort to consider the person who is giving me this bit of attitude, and it usually makes it easier to take.
Also, my boss is wonderful and very understanding, and goes through the same kind of thing herself sometimes. She's been great about pushing me to do things, like swapping video cards out of cx's, that I'd have been a bit hesitant about doing on my own, and it has done wonders for my confidence.
Let me just say, in summary, what I've learned (or RE-learned) from this experience:
- It's hard to have a good attitude about anything if you're overly stressed (about work, finances, roommates, anything!).
- Virtually any workplace is going to have its share of assholes. Hopefully, they're not your immediate boss, or an important client.
- I feel better when I stand up for myself. I feel better about standing up for myself when I'm not in the situation described in #1!