10 reasons to avoid the daily grind

After four months at home as a full-time writer, I have lost the hang of how to get out of bed in the morning. I’m sure this has something to do with returning to work. My feet feel heavier, the commute seems longer. Has it always been this cold in London?I agree to coffee with a self-employed friend so he can cheer me up. ‘Working a job you hate for the sole purpose of getting paid is akin to corporate whoring,’ he says unhelpfully. It seems a harsh admonition considering I work for the public sector. But in that unblinking, uncompromising moment of stripped-down, ugly truth that you get sometimes over lattes, I realise he’s right. I am a corporate whore.I won’t make excuses about how I need to work, because everyone says that. Plus, it’s too depressing when I could be in my PJs, sitting in the garden with my laptop instead of on a crowded train playing the, ‘Oh well, it could be worse’ game. That’s what I do on the morning commute. I try to come up with compelling reasons why going to work is not the worse thing that can happen.Let’s see, there’s torture. Torture is way worse than my job. And there’s death, but that’s a given, because if I’m dead I wouldn’t be expected to come in to the office.Judging by the faces of the other unhappy commuters beside me, they’re also playing the Oh well game. Whatever gets us through the day, right?Anyway, here are my top ten reasons why the daily grind is no place for a writer:1. Unnatural work hoursGetting up when it’s dark is wrong. Especially if you’ve been up till the wee hours trying to sort out your character’s motivation. Winter work hours should start at 11:00 and end at 16:00, maybe even 15:30 to coincide with nature. Sure, I’d be an unbearable summer, but it would be warm then and things are more tolerable when it’s warm. 2. Annoying coworkersIt is bad enough that we have to work together, but do I also have to talk to them on my lunch hour? I just want to sit and read my book in silence. So why are they standing there and staring? And while we’re on the subject, who decided that open-plan offices were a good idea? Etiquette does not require me to smile, nod or acknowledge my coworkers every time they pass to get tea/coffee/water. Once is bad enough, really.3. PonderingWork takes time away from valuable enterprises like pondering. Don’t laugh, thinking is actually a productive occupation, unlike the blue-sky thinking you do at work, where the idea is to bludgeon one another on the head with your creativity. Last week I tried pondering some ponder-worthy things during our Monday morning meeting. Note to self: pondering should be done in the privacy of your own home.4. Lentil soupI’m not much of a cook, but I’m a big fan of soups and stews that don’t require you to do much but chop an assortment of things and throw them into a boiling cauldron while yelling BAM! I hate that I could be at home eating lentil soup instead of scarfing a tasteless cardboard sandwich at my desk. It just seems so meaningless.5.  Clock watchingWhen I was 17, my first job was at a fast food place. I lasted three months, promising myself that when I was older I would NEVER work in a place that a. required a hair net b. involved customers c. made me so miserable that I’d be counting down every single minute until the time of my sweet release. That I’m still doing it now is too depressing for words.6. Morning writersDo all your best ideas arrive before 2:00 PM? Do you find yourself on your lunch hour or over break, madly jotting your ideas in a notebook so you don’t forget? Do you set your alarm for 4:00 AM so you can get in a little writing before work? Then you my friend are a morning writer and have no place in the grind.7. WeekendsNow that I’m working, weekends are the only times I can write. But I am not a woman with a room of her own. I can’t close the door and ignore laundry and mismatched socks. Even when my loved ones sweetly promise to leave me alone for a few hours and bring me cups of tea, I still have to worry about what is happening outside that door. I can guarantee that it will involve a sink full of dishes, a dehydrated dog, mud/dirt and a charred pizza or two. Ignoring the smoke as it wafts under my door only delays the illusion that I have no responsibilities except unto to myself.8. Secret Santa dilemmaBeing a grown-up is all about compromises. Anyone who has had an offspring walk in on them while using the toilet, knows that. Q. How do you effectively manage a full-time gig, relationships and creative pursuits without going mad?  A. You take what you need and give something back of equal or greater value. Q. But what if you don’t have anything left to give? A. Tough cookies. I had a consulting job once where I had lots of freedom. So much in fact that from the months of June to December I never showed up to work. Every few weeks I handed in a report and received a fat check in return. That’s all I had to do. It was perfect. Except that I missed the office Xmas party and they fired me. You see, I forgot we were exchanging secret santas and mine happened to be the president of the organisation. Moral of the story is that you can try to fit in family, work and writing  but you must never ever forget your secret santa.9. When running out of reasons invoke The MatrixReturning to work this time around is like taking the blue pill (or was it the red)? It made me realise that I’m wasting my productive years in an organisation that doesn’t care about me or the countless other drones who are also feeling equally dissatisfied, unhappy and unfulfilled. The entire city is filled with people like us. We’d rather paint, or sleep or make music. Yet we don’t stop. We don’t question. We accept and do it again and again, year in/year out with no respite. Why? It can’t be for money alone. Unfortunately, I can only afford these blog convictions. For now I have to continue where I am until I work up the courage to jump off the carousel and stay off for good. 1o. WritingI don’t want to participate in the grind because I want to write. Simple. Even if I had a job I loved, OK, a job I liked, I would still resent it for taking up my time. But then I wouldn’t have a top ten list of reasons to entertain you with.

6 Comments

  1. I relate so much to this post. I, too, am a corporate whore. My day job takes up five whole days out of my week and every day I am bitter about it. I don’t hate the job so much as I hate the presumption on my time. I am especially livid about having to be there at 9:30 in the morning, which means I have to leave for the subway at 9. I’d get the same amount of work done if they let me come in at say, 11, and stay a bit later, and I’d have more time to write in the mornings. Why do they have to be so rigid? What does it matter? It drives me crazy.Reading about “acceptance” is really what I need right now, because no way, no how can I quit my job right now. I need that job more than I could ever admit — we’d be homeless without it. And that makes me sad, but what can I do, really, except go?Glad I found this.Oh, and everything else around me is ignored so I can write. I do two things. 1) I go to the job. 2) I write. In the midst of that, there are dishes in the sink, laundry unfolded on the floor.. I could go on, but it’s embarrassing.

  2. I can’t tell you how much I relate to most of this. It’s good to know that someone can put words to my thoughts and feelings even when I can’t. The downside is that someone else has to feel it all too.I work from home now, but for the same company that made me feel the way you do. It’s not so bad now that I don’t have to smile and nod every time someone passes by desk, or finally, resentfully, close my book and try to look interested in whatever mind-numbing conversation is taking place between coworkers. And the suck-ups… don’t even get me started!If we lived closer, I’d make lentil soup and bring it to you at the office. Do you ever have it with cornbread? It’s lovely!Glad to hear from you even under these circumstances. For what it’s worth, I wish you well. Please keep us posted as you’re able.

  3. I hate hate hate those coworkers who thinks its cool to be companymen and they need to climb the corporate ladder ..fire them first please….Hope it gets better for you..in the mean time I go to killyourboss.com It helps me when the do gooders come up to me and say I CANT WAIT FOR THE NEXT COMPANY PICNIC its going to be so much fun!!! Zman sends

  4. Thanks Kerry, I love that Churchill dog. I’m sure I could have come up with more reasons why I hate my job but the bile and bitterness was such that it would have eaten away at the page until it resembled my green pic on the rightNova, that made me smile. It is a little embarrassing I guess, but between cleaning and writing there is only one correct answer. And I probably shouldn’t complain about having a job at a time when a lot of people are losing them l – it is quite selfish of me. I am fortunate enough to have something that allows me to pay my bills, because let’s face it, the writing thus far hasn’t and in practical terms it probably never will. If acceptance is to be my new motto, then I need to find ways to laugh and deal with it. I’m glad I’m not alone in frustrated messy-houseness.Aww Lottie, your comment was so sweet. Thank you for the virtual soup offer. Never had it with cornbread but it sounds great. Will have to try.Lucky you to not have to see your coworkers and nod and smile and join in inane conversation when you’d rather not socialise. And suck-ups are the worst. We have an entire floor of them, always running around trying to outdo one another. Like high school all over again. Anyway good thing you work from home now and can avoid the drama.Hope you are well and writing still. I will try to post occasionally and keep you updated.Amanda, thanks for visiting. I’m glad you’re enjoying the blog. Yes, I do write, or try to. How about you?Zman: thanks for the kind words. I am SO going to killyourboss. Company picnic. – yah, I can totally see it. Thanks for visiting. 🙂

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