Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Calling Off the Crazies

If I thought work was unbearable last month there is no name for what it is now. You know how it feels when you've been on the phone with a loved one for just a tad too long and a strange pain slowly creeps into your ear and before you know it that entire side of your head is numb? Yeah, it's a lot like that, but for 8 straight hours Monday through Friday. I guess this is what happens when you're liquidating all of your inventory and you send email blasts to 35,000 customers and you made the insane decision to keep only 2 employees to handle the phone calls. The funny thing is, prior to the company letting everyone go, when I handled only my duties and not those of 4+ others, I spent an average of 20 minutes a day handling phone calls, and they were all made on my own accord. Those days are long gone, and I'm anxiously awaiting a time when I can say days like this are long gone as well.

By the time last Friday afternoon rolled around I felt an overwhelming urge to lob my cold water bottle against the wall as hard as I could. I could feel myself breaking down and as the phone rang and the messages in my inbox multiplied, I sat shaking in my cubicle, contemplating how much trouble I would be in if I could actually get my water bottle through the wall--I felt like I had enough pent-up frustration to do just that--but I figured it would actually get me in a lot of trouble, as well as blow my calm-and-collected-employee cover I spent the last 5 years trying to hide behind. Instead, I gained control of the shakes, marched into my director's office, and politely asked, "Any chance I can get Monday off? I think I'm going to crack."

Despite being given permission to take a day of vacation and pull myself together, I still came home in tears on Friday. I couldn't shake the fact that work was eating me alive--from the tips of my toes to my eye balls--and it was draining me of every ounce of energy I had, including what's needed to maintain relationships that will be there far longer than June 30th.

I broke down almost the moment I walked in the door and Jon couldn't possibly understand why I was doing this to myself for a company that's already shown me the door--even if it is down a long corridor--and I couldn't find the words to explain to him that it had to be this way--that I had no choice but to suffer the way I am--but now I think I couldn't find the words because there are none. There is no excuse good enough to explain why I'm letting a company suck me so dry in the morning that I don't have what it takes to look for a new one in the evening.

I decided then and there that I won't let it happen again. I have to take my own advice and admit that I'm only human--there is only so much I can do--and I have to be okay with that, as will my current employer. Not to say that I won't try my best, but I'm working on gaining a more realistic perspective of what my best actually is. My best is what I can manage without seeking vengeance on the purple office walls. My best is an acceptable amount of work that I can be proud of but won't leave me questioning my sanity at the end of the day.

I walked into work smiling this morning after a 3 day weekend, and the volume of phone calls and emails were so unbelievable that each time I walked past her office, my director would call out, "Aren't you glad you took yesterday off?" or "It's a good thing you took Monday off because you definitely would have cracked!" and each time I would genuinely smile and say, "I can't begin to describe how thankful I am to have had yesterday to myself."

She probably doesn't know how important that extra day off was for me, but I know that it helped me pull my shit together and come into work this morning as myself again. I've reclaimed my mind from the chaos that takes place inside the grayness of my 25 square foot cubicle and it finally feels more like a workspace than a prison.

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