I Can't Get No Satisfaction
I hate my job.
I realize that’s not a huge, groundbreaking revelation. A lot of people hate their jobs. And I’m not going to try to say that it’s different for me, that mine’s really bad!
The fact is it’s a decent enough job. It must be, I’ve been there for almost twenty-five years. It’s a good, stable company, with an owner who generally treats his employees well.
The problem is my job has changed drastically in that quarter of a century. I was hired as a graphic designer, though a lot of the job involved readying customer-supplied art for press. But even if it wasn’t always creative, the work I did back then was interesting, with a great deal of variety thrown in.
Well, in the past twenty-five years, the company has grown and prospered. It’s a very busy company with a loyal customer base, because the company has applied itself to creating a quality product. It’s the way they’ve adapted to being so busy that is the problem – for me.
Design takes time, which is what they didn’t have, so design was the first thing to go. They focused on the printing, which is where the majority of their money came from. So now, customer-supplied art was all I ever dealt with.
Even at that, though, it was too much. For years, I was the art department, a one-man show, but now playing the parts of at least one-and-a-half men.
The customer service people were a little less than sympathetic, though. They still needed the jobs for their clients done yesterday, and didn’t care how stressed I was.
There were several days when I seriously thought about walking out the door and never going back.
Luckily, management saw how overworked I was, and they hired a second prepress person. (That’s right, it wasn’t the art department anymore. It was prepress.)
That helped a lot! It removed a great deal of the stress from my shoulders. I now had a manageable workload, but unfortunately, it was still the same, uninteresting work. Artists need creative outlet, and I just wasn’t getting any.
Well, true to form, the company continued prospering, and they invested thousands of dollars in a company-wide automation system. All of our jobs were now in “the cloud,” with all of our departments linked online. Prepress could now do proofs and get them to the customer faster than before, because a lot of our systems were preprogrammed into the software. We barely had to even touch the file (customer-supplied, of course). Some jobs required a little more finesse, but many times, a proof could be done in a minute or even less.
My job had become a monotonous routine of clicking a file name in the work interface, clicking a few check boxes depending on what press and what material was involved, sending it on its way, then clicking the next one. If there was an error in the processing, I had to root through lines of arcane code to track down the error to know how to fix it. I saw myself as a factory worker on a production line, a cog in a wheel turning in a dreary and tedious treadmill.
When COVID-19 struck, the company decided to allow some of their office employees to try working remotely. Obviously, it wasn’t an option for the printing personnel, but I was happy to be able to work from home now.
Again, though, still doing that same boring job.
I started early, and I finished up at 1:00 p.m. And every Sunday through Thursday afternoon, I’d feel the dread start settling over me, the knowledge that I had to do it all over again the next day. Some days I was depressed, other days I was just slogging through it to be done with it. A feeling of fulfillment or satisfaction? That was so far away from where I was, it’s as if it was a make-believe fairy land.
Wow, this is kind of a bummer post. But it will get better.
Tune in next week.