Last fall, I took a part time, or what I thought would be a part time, job. I was told that the job would be ten to twenty hours a week. Starting a few weeks before Black Friday made this far from true. The job required that I go into stores and assemble new displays, count types of software present in the store, audit displays, talk to employees about specific types of software, and sometimes updating demos on computers on display in certain stores.
My house is basically in the middle of the territory I was supposed to cover. My drive from my house to the first store in which I was to work for the day and my drive from the last store to my house was considered my commute and not time for which I was paid. Sometimes that was reasonable, but sometimes it did not work out in my favor. I was putting huge amounts of miles on my car, sometimes working for a few hours a day, sometimes working for twelve hours a day.
Shortly after starting the job, I put in my two weeks notice. It was too much. Too much driving, too much sitting at the computer printing off instructions, running to the store to buy ink, not having all the pieces I needed to complete the job, just too much. My manager called me and said he hoped he could convince me to stay. He said I was doing a good job and that no one had complained about the work that I had done. I’m still not sure why anyone would have complained, but I guess that’s beside the point. I agreed to stay on and try to manage the work differently. I thought the problem was me.
I am extremely privileged to have a supportive husband who makes enough money that I really do not have to work outside of our home. Jeff is so loving and supportive and he really just wants me to follow my dreams. His support is more than I ever dreamed.
I wasn’t writing here anymore. I wasn’t working as hard on the facebook page that Jennifer and I maintain. I was putting all my energy into driving hundreds of miles, for a small amount of money. Money isn’t the most important thing in life, and while most people could always use more, I wasn’t able to focus on what really matters in my life. I would think of ideas to write about during my drives, but would not write them down, and didn’t have the energy to write about them even if I remembered by the time I got home.
I continued to work and sometimes was assigned more territory because other people quit. I have worked for another company to help set displays and redo aisles of product. In this job, I don’t work as much, I usually get more mileage, and I get to chose which jobs I take. I didn’t have a choice in this second position I was working. I think part of that was that my manager was trying to give me more work, but also other people quit and he didn’t have a choice.
The last job I did was supposed to take two hours and ten minutes. It took me five hours. I wasn’t moving slowly. I cannot say what took so much extra time, except that I spent a lot of time looking for pieces of the display I needed, finding shelves, getting labels printed, and trying to make pieces fit on a display that were not really the right size.
The day before, I had done a similar job. Part of the job required me to assemble a stand for a vacuum. The display required six stands. Each box I opened contained a screwdriver. That may sound like a normal thing, but I think I was struck by the amount of waste. I was required to carry a screwdriver with1 me as part of my work tool kit. But I acquired six new screw drivers in one setting. The screwdrivers smelled so strongly of chemicals that my hands still had the chemical smell on them hours later, even though I had washed my hands several times.
In our lives at home, Jeff and I try to use minimal chemicals. Even in the garden, we use as little as possible and try to search out natural ways so we don’t have to spray heavy chemicals on what we’re going to eat and share with others. I struggled to get my mind around the absurdity of the waste and whatever chemicals were on the screwdriver handle.
I was missing the point. I was spending so much time and energy working for this company that I didn’t have any energy to write, or read, or make dinner, or do the things that are important to me. I quit after the five our job. I’ve never just quit on the spot, but I knew it was not going to get any better. It would be a few weeks of not much work, then I would be slammed. I’m sure for some people this job is totally fine, but it was not fine for me. It was not fine at all.
I need to get back to writing. I need to get back to putting energy in advocating for survivors of sexual abuse. I may never make much money doing this, but it is my passion to help survivors find their voices. I was working toward the wrong goal, and I am truly grateful for Jeff’s support and help to get me refocused on what matters in our lives.
Have you ever worked toward something that took you further and further away from your real goal? It may have seemed like it would help you reach a goal at the beginning, but took you in a completely different direction. I’d love to hear your stories about what took you away from your goal and how you get back on track.