At the end of that first week, I had what recovering addicts call a Moment of Clarity. I'd gone away from my home computer and was washing up at the bathroom sink, and I looked at myself in the mirror and thought, very clearly, I don't want to do this.
I almost as quickly realized that I didn't have to.
That was Thursday, June 5th, 2008. The next day, I gave my two weeks' notice. Later that night, I went to the Bagdad and watched Top Gun with my radio acquaintances and many fellow geeks.
A year ago. I got away from both a toxic office and a toxic manager, a manager who was a bad joke to many fellow hospital employees...and, I'm schaudenfreude-ish enough to admit, only a couple of months away from resigning herself. But I didn't know that at the time a year ago. I only knew I kept getting a knot in my stomach if I saw she'd e-mailed me. I only knew that the job was the wrong job for me to attempt from home. I'm sure other jobs could be done from here -- just not that one.
And for the next several weeks, I recovered. Seriously. I had been getting sick with stress. I'd lost weight. I'd been legitimately ill up to about a week before I started working from home...and by the way, that toxic manager, the manager who liked to look as if she cared how her co-workers were coping with difficult situations, never once gave me anything resembling a "hope you feel better soon" message. (Her reply to my e-mail telling her and my other supervisors that I was well enough to go back to the office was Talk to me when you get here about your work situation. Nothing else. Nothing like a "glad you feel better" sentence. Because she didn't care. And I knew for sure who by then cared and who didn't.)
I needed to leave that job. Financially it's been a tough go since then -- yeah, I quit right before things got bad -- but ultimately it's been better psychologically for me. I wonder how I'd've coped with another month of that job from home, a studio apartment you remember (Mom's crack: "Yeah, they should pay you enough that you can rent an office!"), stacked in one corner with probably too much office stuff for one corner. I would've had to think about how to distance myself from work when work stuff would always be so close...and tied to my personal work station, too, so it would've been even harder to hide it. But that decision, that two weeks' notice, meant I didn't have to deal with that. After, of course, those last two weeks. Which were manageable.
It seems like I think better now. That I'm a clearer thinker, and a better writer. Because, I feel, I know myself better now. Being often out of work, I've had plenty of time to think about myself! And I've been able to analyze myself in a more concentrated way lately.
I'm not going to try to imagine what the job would've been like had I stayed. I'll admit that I got together for drinks later last summer with former co-workers, because yes, we wanted to celebrate that manager's resignation. It was a sign of how crazy we'd felt under her. I've visited those same former co-workers (and still friends) since then, and there are the issues of office life, but they seem more manageable now. Less crazy-making. And I knew the work we did up there made a difference, to be all noble 'n' stuff about it: hospital work is crazy but needed.
But I didn't need to be made crazy by a job.
And I was able to stop being made crazy by a job.
This has been a reminiscence. Where did I come from? I definitely know that. Where can I take myself now? Someplace good, I hope.
Peace, y'all. Talk to you more later. But not during the day, because I'm working.