I have a bad case of the Mondays right now. I'll start by saying that I know I have a really good life and a pretty good job, but what I want to do right now is complain.
I am an Industrial Engineer (and a Chemical Engineer, but that isn't where my career has been). What I do is called process improvement. It has a fancy name (Lean Six Sigma) that doesn't mean anything to most people, but what it really is, is fixing things. When things don't work in companies (besides managerial stuff), it's usually because processes aren't working, sales process, purchase order process, shipping process, etc, etc. Without being an expert in anything other than improving processes, I can come in and help people make their processes better. When it works, it can be really satisfying, and really make a difference.
I'm not making my job easier. I'm helping other people make their jobs easier. What this means is that I accomplish my job through other people doing things. In most companies, since their jobs will get better, most people like having me come in and help. Most people actually do the things that will make their jobs better. Everybody looks good and the company makes more money. Not here.
At my current company, people don't answer the phone, they don't answer emails. They say they're going to do things and then "forget." For months, even though I ask every week about it. We have the same conversation over and over and never move forward on anything. People feel like they can just wait me out and eventually I'll go away. This isn't just one or even a few people. It's the whole place! I've spoken to my boss about it, but he's part of the mindset that the way we are isn't a bad thing. He's never worked anywhere where process improvement works the way it's supposed to. It's frustrating.
I come home from work for weeks, even months on end and can honestly say that I accomplished Not. A. Single. Thing. In the process improvement sense, this is the worst place I've ever worked. The work by it's nature (even when it's good) isn't often satisfying. A good day might be one where I lead a meeting and get some groups of people to agree to something. Woo hoo! Not very tactile. [I won't even get into my growing ennui about helping corporations make profit. That can wait for another rant. Suffice it to say that there's not much about my job that fit with my values these days.]
If I was younger, I might care more. I'm past the part of my life where my career actually means that much to me. I spent years and years beating my head against various walls (I mean gaining valuable experience) and now I'm over it. Now I just want a paycheck. What frustrates me most isn't the job, per se. It's that I have to waste 11 hours out of every day accomplishing nothing (7am when I leave for work to 6pm when I get home). I could be spending that 11 hours on real, homestead-y stuff. I spend most of every day wishing the clock would go faster so that I can get home. Then when I'm home I wish the clock would go slower, but I'm too tired to do much anyway. I think it's a cruel twist of fate that means I only get 2 days a week to work on stuff that I really want to do.
I know that many people don't enjoy their work (remember Thoreau saying that most people lead lives of quiet desperation), and most spend years and years disliking their jobs. The lucky ones have family at home to balance the bad work and share the load of work to be done. I don't have that outlet and sometimes I feel it keenly.
There are always options. I'm considering asking for a direct engineering job, where I actually work with the product (that would be my first job actually using the ChemE degree. I'm not sure I'm qualified). I'm considering asking to go part-time, 4 days a week. I'm considering pursuing teaching where teachers get 15 weeks a year off. I've been thinking about starting that goat business. Right now though, I need to sit tight, keep coming into work and trying to get things done. I know that. That's why I'm here, complaining to you. Thanks for listening. (end rant)
Beautiful Day, Beautiful Pond
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