July 21, 2010

on a more serious note

I wouldn't say that I hate my job. That seems too strong. But it's close.

I do a lot of receiving and stocking, that's really the part that I "enjoy" the most. I do a lot of ringing as well, that part isn't always bad but it can also just be the worst thing ever. Sometimes after people have just been ridiculously rude to you again and again, you sort of lose your ability to have any sort of customer service.

If I were paid what I feel I deserve to be paid, though, I think I would probably have a much lower level of job hatred.

Let's just put it out there. I skirt around it a lot. I'm embarrassed by it. I actually just felt my tear ducts spring into action when I let myself say that I'm embarrassed, but I am. I've worked here for five years now, three consecutive, and I make exactly $0.48 above the Ohio Minimum Wage.

The one advantage to making so little money is that I really sympathize with people trying to support themselves making minimum wage. Even making a dollar more than minimum wage. I'm lucky and I get a lot of help with my bills. I don't understand how anyone could support themselves on this salary, let alone children. But that's another blog. This one's about me.

I work hard. Harder than most of my co-workers. A lot of them are older and slower. What takes me an hour would take them the whole day.

The people who sit behind a desk and take tickets? They make more than I do.

I feel undervalued and underpaid. I was promoted and then it was given away to someone else. And I just sat there and took it, like it was fine. As if I had no problem with it at all, as if I agreed with them.

A lot has changed since then. I'm a more confident person. I can say with complete certainty that I am important to this place, that they don't operate as smoothly without me. I can make a line disappear, pick up the store in about thirty minutes and I'm faster at stocking, not least because I can lift more. I can carry a box most of my co-workers would need to get a cart to move, that alone makes me much quicker.

But the problem with this realization that I deserve more is that, at this job, I can't really get it. We're a non-profit. For two years "no one" has gotten a raise. (I never really figured out if the CEO and his billions of BMWs are included in this no one) So it feels like I'm working really hard to climb a mountain by just getting really good at circling the bottom, waiting for them to open the gates so I can really give it a go. All the opportunities for advancement are so far off. I'm like a vulture, circling other people's positions, waiting for them to perish so I can steal their spot. Can I keep working hard for no reward for years and years to achieve something that might not even be that fulfilling?

I don't know. Some days it seems fine; some days I feel so intensely unhappy. But what DO I want to do? What do I want to be? What WOULD be fulfilling? Can I reach my goals here and make room for new ones at the same time?

The future is always uncertain. I think this growing unhappiness--this growing feeling that I'm worth more, smarter than this, better than this--is the motivation I have been waiting for. If I keep going and let it keep building inside of me then I think that's the energy I'm going to harness that will take me down new avenues to fulfillment. I cannot be scared of this, either, even though it might be scary. Sometimes I'm scared to change anything lest it throw me dangerously off-balance. But I think when I have enough drive, enough motivation, then I'll be okay.

The one thing I am sure of? I'm worth way more than $7.78.


Clayton Roche said...

So it feels like I'm working really hard to climb a mountain by just getting really good at circling the bottom, waiting for them to open the gates so I can really give it a go.


It's hell feeling that way, underpaid. Do you spend a lot of time brooding? I brood.

Alas you seem the scrupulous type, otherwise I'd recommend stealing a raises worth of paperclips...

djphob said...

I try not to brood, brooding only leads to more brooding. Brooding looks better on boys anyway.

Sometimes I will have candy stick. If I ate one a day, I'd be giving myself a five cent raise. But also a stomachache... That was, like, the lamest joke ever but I just couldn't help myself.

djphob said...

Update: finally promoted in June 2012. Still vulture-ing but in a more "being groomed" fashion. Also gaining confidence with each shift as manager. Shocked at how receptive co-workers are to me as an authority figure.