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September 24, 2008

The About Turn

I've always wanted to do something completely different to the work that I've done for the last eight years. The short version: I can't stand working in offices and have no patience for humans within confined spaces (offices). If I compare the office to a zoo, there is no comparison. Humans within offices, that aren't like enclosures, display an array of character traits that may amaze the observer, but wear the observer down over time. Egos, selective competence, and other annoying traits do little to motivate some people - such as me.

There have been many days that have seen me return home from the office, any kind of office, thinking 'how long before I transform into Kevin Spacey (American Beauty) or Michael Douglas (Falling Down)?' I read some job adverts now and laugh each time I come across the most uncreative listings that always prefer someone with 'an eye for detail,' and I do have an eye for detail. I can walk into any new office and isolate the following:

  • The office lazy arse
  • The backstabber
  • The boss's minion
  • The gossip queen
  • The 'long service leave person,' that is only working for the sake of their accumulated long service leave.
  • Career prospects (the percentage of people that have worked in the same position for seven to twenty years without promotion)
  • Crap/shit/asshole managers (based on high employee turnover, that takes a minimum of six months to notice)

That's my version of 'eye for detail' and I think it's important to develop such an eye because if you obey it, you can move on without fear and save yourself a decade. But what to do with this kind of eye? I can't do anything with it, and I sure as hell don't plan on mingling in the same circles. Recently, my trips to the city (leisure trips) see me rolling my eyes each time I overhear office people during lunch. They bitch, whine and back stab, and if that isn't irritating enough, many are style challenged.
In my life, I've spent four years working in hospitals and nursing homes, three years in hospitality (restaurants and bars) and close to nine years working in offices. My least favorite place is the latter, but I can't deny the fact that I've learned something in all workplaces. The reason why offices shit me (to tears) is because I feel that I've learned less within them, this and the fact that I've seen -first hand - the myth of feminism within them. A portion of high powered women still use feminine wiles and bitchiness to get what they want and each time I am faced with that (via a boss, manager or boss-parasite) I feel like slapping them. It's not that I feel contaminated as a female or anything, but I feel embarrassed and disappointed for them, and I don't want to associate with them or be part of that game. Maybe my gender is incorrect; I've never been able to use feminine wiles or flirtation to get my point across or 'get the job done.' It doesn't feel natural to me. Besides, and this will be mean to say, I've always associated such people with limited intelligence and incapability, and the results of such things come back to bite: projects that fail due to superficial foundations, that may have financial implications. I have a fantastic example of this (work project going pear shaped) taking place, tolerating it (it was amazing I didn't have a breakdown) and seeing the conclusion of a stupid project (suggested to a male 'higher up' by his female floozy). It always amazes me to see a male executive take the side of the person giving him a blow job even if the project has more holes than fishnet stockings. Thus, after eight years of that office/corporate shit, and my shrink won't be happy (I think) to hear it from me, I'm well within my rights to say that I'd rather work in a zoo than an office.

I've always entertained the idea of working in a zoo. The idea has been around for more than a decade; I didn't know how to go about it, thinking that I had to take a detour, revert my course of study (at that time) and by then it didn't suit me as a parent (financial obligations etc - courses aren't free). I was also torn between obligations and others' expectations. In my late teens, early twenties, I was stuck between having a 'good job' and working in a job that paid less. Of course, this dilemma existed due to my living circumstances. If you don't have the regular safety net (parents, family), you have to think in pragmatic terms, or I did or thought I had to. Then I entered university (in my mid twenties), the world of 'knowledge' or scientific knowledge, with the hope to get into a post grad degree that enabled me to take the financial load off after a given period of time (ie a dental or a post grad medical course), but found it extremely difficult. I'm not great at learning by rote; I have to link things to meanings and functions.I was strong in some areas and weak in others: It took me six months to memorize the organic structure of all the amino acids, but I could give a rundown of the cardiorespiratory system in micro and gross (not the American 'ew yuck' definition, gross as in visible to the eye) anatomical terms. When I deferred my course and entered the workforce, I regretted not switching the major to biology prior but even so, my circumstances weren't favorable for full time study and most science courses are full time day courses - incompatible with the corporate demands of the working world.

This week, I returned to the old idea, researching online and came across volunteer positions in zoos and found one and thought, 'Eureka'. It's not full time and it's not paid, but I don't care about that. I mean, I was paid for my current job (the job in 'hiatus' based on corporate ineptitude: still waiting for an answer you lazy bastards) and what happiness did I get from it?
I got jack shit. I'd be content with 20% of the work, in terms of doing tasks that I found challenging, and the rest of the time I had to tolerate a bunch of bitches, assholes and inept dickheads that lived to make the lives of others (not just me) a misery. And to top that off, they'd lord it over us: "You should be privileged to work in this company." That was the view.

I'm going to apply for a volunteer zookeeper position at Taronga (who knows, it may lead to a full-time situation/position). And there is a reason for it. Animals aren't capable of the sadism that humans are capable of, and I'm done with the sadomasochism within the corporate world or the office. That part of my life is over; I can't return to it and refuse to consider it as a viable option for my sanity. My hope, for the future, is for this economic upheaval to alter the structure of the workplace, eliminate the corporate setup that has dominated the world because I don't feel that it gives anything back to humans in a spiritual or emotional sense. If anything, corporations have diminished humility, empathy and community.


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Congratulations! Excellent move.

Well, good luck to you. It sounds life-changing. After 9 years in the corporate world, I'm sure a zoo will be heaven.

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