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19th Nervous Breakdown

1.31.21

I received a scare this week. With COVID still going strong, I was still waking up early to go to work to queue to press the jobs that needed to be done onsite, then coming home before anybody else arrived, to do the rest of my work online.

Except on Monday morning, there was an email from my boss asking me to stick around because he had some things he wanted to talk about with me. My first thought was that I wish he had texted me earlier. I don’t check my work email on the weekend. If I had known he wanted to talk to me at 9:00, I wouldn’t have gone in so early (I got there at 2:15 am).

My second thought was that this was it. If you remember, I spent the first entry in this blog complaining about how much I hate my job, and interpreting various clues as possible proof that I was being pushed toward the door. This email asking me to stick around so we could have a face-to-face talk sounded like the work equivalent of a man being told by his wife or significant other, “We need to talk!” It sounded like what I had been dreading. Yes, I hate my job, but I need my job, at least until we’re ready to make our break.

Well, I got everything done by about 5:15. There’s usually something of a lull in the morning after I get the previous night’s or weekend’s jobs done. That’s when I take a break and have breakfast with Linda. Since I didn’t see any point in sitting there for four hours with nothing to do, I went home and texted him that we could talk on the phone or I could come back in, whichever he preferred. A couple of hours later, he responded, asking me to come in at 9:00.

During the time I was waiting, in between checking for new jobs at work, I went on Upwork to look for writing jobs there. Remember when, after telling about the Upwork job I took with the greenhouse supply company, I said, “How could I ever hope to support myself with my writing if I didn’t feel qualified to write?” Well, that feeling hadn’t gone away.

Every job I looked at had something wrong with it. Granted, the main thing that was wrong with most of them was how little the client was willing to pay for it. But also, I felt unqualified to write authoritatively or knowledgably about any of them.

When my boss told me to hit the road, I could see that things were going to be tight. I wasn’t going to be able to support my little family with my writing. Ever since COVID hit and Linda started teaching online, she lost several of her students, mainly due to financial hardships on their part. So things were looking pretty bleak.

At 8:30, I kissed my wife and marched bravely out to my car, driving off alone to meet my fate.

I walked in to my boss’ office, face enmasked, greeting him cheerfully. At least I thought it was cheerfully. I don’t know how well I pulled it off. I sat down in the chair in front of his desk, and the talk began.

He told me right off the bat that he had seen my blog on Facebook. Not because he went looking for me and checked it out. Rather, a coworker had seen it, got offended about my feelings, apparently, and tattled. But the thing is he was cool with it. Not with the fact that I hated my job, but that I wrote about it.

As I pointed out to him, I hadn’t named the company, nor had I spoken disparagingly about it or him. He knew what it was like to hate a job. He had spent time, as most of us have, in a job he hated. For him, it was a stockbroker. During that time, he lived every day for the closing bell.

Well, then he asked if there was anything that he could do to make my job easier!

My response was that, in the realm of the company and its goals, its increased efficiency and accuracy through automation, what I wanted, being able to do design work, would be taking several steps backwards. Plus, with the variable nature of the work – some days, I could go for a few hours and do one or two jobs, other days, I’m busy till quitting time – it would be nearly impossible to schedule design time.

We also talked about one of the other main topics of this account, our desire to move to Europe. We talked about the whys and wherefores, and the wheres and hows. That brought up another issue that Linda and I had talked about, but didn’t know if it would be allowed.

When I took two weeks off a few years before for a vacation in Scotland, it had been a hardship on my coworker. It was the same when I took two weeks off for my honeymoon in 2018.

But in order to know where we want to settle, we would have to spend time there. More than just a few days. So, considering his offer to make my job easier, I asked about what Linda and I had discussed. My time during COVID, working online, gave us this idea. When the time came, could I could take four weeks or so in one stretch to go to Europe to check out a location (or locations), and use only two weeks of vacation time, working online the other two? I naturally wake early, so I’d still have a big chunk of the day to look around and feel out a place.

His response was pretty positive. He acknowledged that there could be some issues that might need to be addressed, but nothing came to mind at the moment. So that was another fear removed.

As far as my job itself goes, nothing was really resolved about the design issue. But it doesn’t matter. He understood my situation and my feelings, and he assured me that my job was safe for a year, two years, five years, however long I was going to be there.

The tattling that had precipitated the talk had backfired. It turned out to be a good thing. Needless to say, Linda and I are relieved and feel much more prepared for the task ahead of us.

Now, if we can only decide where to go!