DIARY of a 99%-er: The Struggle Between Survival and Creative Expression

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May 24

It is crucial to have a crystal clear picture of what you want to accomplish. Operate with a sharply defined mental image of the outcome you seek. Rivet your attention on that spot where you are to land at the end of your quantum leap. Visualize your arrival. Solutions begin to appear. Answers come to you.” – Price Pritchett

Price Pritchett. What a great name. And, what a fabulous quote.

I am sitting at my desk at work, looking out the window, trying to visualize my arrival at the end of my quantum leap to a new paradigm of freedom and autonomy. But not quite seeing it. At this company, there’s not a lot of leaping going on. Most people stay in their jobs FOREVER. This breeds an environment of managers having their own private fiefdoms, enabling them to wield capricious power.

I have now worked at this company for four long years. I’m what they call a floater – I work in the Support Division, so I support whatever division needs help administratively. I love being able to float from department to department since it at least gives me some variety and a change of scenery.

But it seems like the supervisors I’m assigned to just keep getting more controlling and pissier, Some of the ridiculousness I’ve had to deal with in the past four years:

- Being scolded by a supervisor who used to ride her bike to work and keep her bike in her office. She actually had the gall to send me an email giving me a hard time about keeping my bike in my office and going to great lengths to point out that an office space was meant for work, not to hold bikes. Really? How hypocritical!

- Being ordered by a supervisor not to open the blinds in the lobby portion of an office, for fear that one of them would break. All she would allow was a slight twist in the blinds to enable tiny slivers of sunlight. As each of the employees in this particular office suite had windowless offices, this was the only natural light allowed. Then, at precisely 4 pm every day she would shut the blinds completely, even if it was still bright and sunny outside, because the office hours of this particular division were over, even though the employees had to stay until 5 p.m. So, we all had to work in a shuttered office with no natural light for the last part of the work day. Yea!

- Being micromanaged by a supervisor through a sliding glass window – the only thing separating our offices. Even when she was on the phone, she would listen with the other ear to what I was saying, so she could micromanage every last detail of my job.

- Being asked by one supervisor if another one “let me” listen to classical music, as if it were some kind of obnoxious gangsta rap. And, why do supervisors even get to control this kind of thing if they have their own offices?

- Being severely chastised by a supervisor for not taking the garbage out to a Dumpster after an event when the garbage cans were overflowing, so much that I was afraid to take the bags out of the cans for fear they would break. But, as part of the administrative staff, we are required to also play janitor because of budget cuts, as if planning events and running around during them to make sure they are perfectly executed is not enough.

- A manager confessing that she doesn’t like to walk at all -- not even to get from Point A to Point B. She wasn’t even talking about walking for exercise. My office was three doors down and she literally picked up the phone and called me, instead of taking the six or seven required steps to get to my office.

- Supervisors who do not eat all day long because they’ve convinced themselves and honestly believe that they’re “too busy to eat”. But somehow they find time to inhale caffeine all day long, taking the act of being high-strung to new extremes.

- A manager who bragged to me that she once stayed up all night in her office to get a project done and showed up the next morning in the same work clothes, since she never went home and went to sleep. This is not something to brag about – this is unhealthy! Get a live-work balance, pronto!

- A senior manager who told me when that when he can’t sleep, he comes into the office at 2 a.m. in the morning. Now this is just downright creepy. What is he doing at the office at that time? Is he checking email because he can’t wait until the next morning? Probably, because one time he saw an email meant for someone else, in which I was lamenting how difficult it was to communicate with one of my supervisors. Somehow, he saw it from my Sent box. Of course, he came to my office the next day and grilled me about it. It was not meant for him. Mind your own beeswax!

- Various people who will not talk to other people unless their job position carries the title of “Manager,” even if they talked to them previously when they were Managers, or had more responsibility. Really? Is a title in this day and age really that important? Ridiculous!

- I can go on and on but I’m sure you get the point.

It was in the first or second month when I realized the dark secret of working in the administrative staff - the whole system is an enormous anachronism . It’s still completely hierarchical, with barely any freedom, mobility or live/work balance. This paradigm should have died off with the plague, especially in this modern, mobile age, where people can work anywhere, with a multiple of modalities. But, this environment of control and micromanagement is so endemic here that, like a Rube-Goldberg, it might be too broken to fix at this point. It might just have to be completely obliterated to catapult it out of the Dark Ages and make way for a new, modern scenario of freedom and autonomy.

These managers are Perfectionist Workaholics, who would rather spend 10-12 hours a day doing every task themselves, instead of delegating to their assistants, which would force them to have to let go. I have witnessed this tendency so much in the past few years that I’ve considered starting a Perfectionist Workaholics Anonymous group – not that the managers who have this addiction would ever go, because they would never admit they have a problem – they would only see it as a positive trait. They actually see themselves as martyrs. “Oh, look at me, I have to work so hard and so long to get this work done because no one else can do it as perfectly as me.” But in fact, it’s an addiction, plain and simple, because it’s an attachment to a mental construct of perfectionism that is unattainable, and just serves to cause stress for everyone. What’s really needed, though, is a support group for the underlings of Perfectionist Workaholics. Minions unite! I have got to start one of these groups because I know I am not the only one dealing with the effects of this syndrome.
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