I can’t think of the last time I honestly sat here and said to myself “yeah, time to start looking for another job.” Not that I figured I’d be at this one forever, but it had some things going for it, and I was used to it and didn’t mind it.
But apparently, I like it more than it likes me.
Or did. After today, it’s gonna be damned hard to go back and enjoy it.
Oddly enough, most of why I’m feeling this way might seem small to others, and maybe I’m blowing things out of proportion a bit, but I know enough to know I’m gonna have a hard time tolerating what’s going on for the next few weeks.
What’s stopping me outright is the virus. So many people are searching for jobs today and I’m trying to help them find them, and the ones who have them are hanging on by their fingernails to them in case we get forced to shut down again. I can’t blame them, living in the Houston hot-spot for Covid-19 as we are.
A few weeks ago I was a bit irritable, trying to get used to the new schedule and extra demands placed on us at the front office. We were all trying to get used to it, so it was a bit frustrating trying to get our bearings on the fly and keep the clients coming in and out like they were supposed to. The owners wanted us to see more customers for background checks, and on rainy days, it’s hard to keep social distancing going when it’s pouring outside and we can only hang on to three people max in the lobby because of the chair availability.
I don’t really believe in woo and crystals and that stuff, but what I’ve read about how I’m handling things in psychology indicates that I’m a pretty strong empath, no matter which test I take. The trouble is, I am definitely working from the vibes that other people give.
The other problem is that I’ve never really learned how to deal with confrontation.
So when I’ve got somebody who is trying to ask a question while my mind is going a hundred miles an hour, focusing on the task at hand, I tend to go blank and have to think about what they want and put what else is going on on the back burner. Sometimes it’s somebody just telling me they signed in and what their appointment time was. That gets frustrating because they’re supposed to write it down, anyway, and I’ve got a list of people I’m trying to get out of there already, usually (which they’d be able to tell by the not-crossed off names on the list). And I have to explain the double booking and that we’ll get to them quick as we can instead of just calling the next person in and getting things done.
Other times it’s somebody who you can tell is in a bad mood or gonna have some attitude. I just blank when confronted with folks like that. I try to just be uber helpful, though I know I’m coming off as incredibly flustered and I can feel the red creeping up my neck to my face. When I’m stressed or the line’s getting long too quick, I start talking faster as if that will help me get things done quicker.
I have to remind myself that it doesn’t work like that. Probably makes me look like a dismissive asshole if the waiting period gets too long.
So, other people’s emotions and how they act influences me big time. It’s something I’ve picked up on and haven’t been able to shake all these years. I figure I’ll have them like me for the moment and then they can forget about me and go on with their day, hopefully feeling better. My first job had me face-to-face with impatient people who were ill or bringing meds home to ill people and I was in the line of fire of their frustration. So, I developed what I called the “60 second life story” as a distraction, focusing on more self-effacing or humorous things. This took the edge off the tension (or at least, I sure thought it did) and then hopefully by the end, things were ready go to and they could get on with their life.
It’s not just the customers, either. I give as much as I can at work because so many others have family or kids to take care of and I don’t want to leave them hanging if there’s an illness or something else comes up. I’m the “dependable one.” I’ve bought a ton of things to help out around the place, and bought extra games and books for the kids. I poured out my extra time and money into the place because it was the only way I could give something back.
I don’t have kids of my own to take care of or give books to or anything, after all. So because I’m always alone, I overdo the sociability at work.
It was a nervous habit that developed into a coping mechanism in anxious situations, read: anything social that I couldn’t escape. And it’s lasted 20 years and change.
That may be where my introversion comes in–I spend so much of myself helping other people, feeling their feelings in addition to mine that when it’s time to get home, I’m done being sociable by any stretch and need to recharge.
And it’s become a bad habit I’ve wanted to reform, but has instead become some nervous habit of mine. I always felt I had to try, that I would do what I could to help them in what we were there for, but also give ’em something to laugh about. And because sometimes the background checks don’t quite go right or there are possible questions that will be asked by those higher up the food chain, I usually have to explain more stuff, because I wouldn’t want to be floundering for the information if I was them.
Typically, I give a basic rundown of what needs doing for every person who walks in the door for background checking services. That means telling mostly the same thing to at least forty people a shift. When there’s an issue, I try to give them as much info as I can to prepare them for what to do next in case they get a question or rejection from the state.
I got a vague impression during a quick meeting the other day, so I’m not sure what exactly is what. I still can’t quite tell if if was someone up the food chain telling my bosses to tell me this stuff, or something they’ve wanted to say a while. I can’t tell, but it sure put me in the dumps for a while.
Some people have called up, either the company or my bosses or those screening reviews, complaining that they don’t understand the info I was telling them. Others, or maybe boss’ observations, indicated I gave way too much information.
I’m sure there’s a point there, I’ve been trying to streamline my little explanation spiel a while, but I can’t throw it out entirely.
And then there was my sense of humor, which they understand but others may not appreciate.
In other words, I’ve basically been told that plenty of people (in what frame of time, I’m not sure) think of me as annoying and frustrating to deal with.
What sucks more is I’m not sure if this is just a more recent thing with the Covid-19 and scheduling frustrations and changes and all, or if this is some trend they’ve noticed a while in responses and are just now telling me about it.
It sucks because I don’t thrive well in ignorance. I’d rather somebody tell me when I’m screwing up and how so I don’t keep doing it and make it a habit that’s harder to break. It’ll be frustrating and make me angry for at least a few seconds, but generally I’ll try to see what’s going on, as long as there are possible solutions there.
And this was five minutes before I was to start my shift, with a full waiting room ready to go, and I was off-kilter.
So, I did my best not to talk much at all. I gave the most bare-bones info, didn’t try to make them laugh or tell any stories, and just did my shift. It was tough because I had to remind myself repeatedly that I needed to just stick to it and stay quiet, only answer questions that I was being asked (though I did tell them that they must hang onto their receipts in case of a problem–I wasn’t gonna just let them hang with that one).
It was tough, though I admit I felt a little less drained at the end of the shift after that. Had a little music to fill in the gaps (very quietly) and I just tried to keep busy and let it go.
But at the same time, I was constantly back and forth about what that meant for me. I mean, my old boss seemed to like my cheerful self with the customers. Now it’s a liability. I don’t want to be a freakish hyperactive twit to people, but at the same time, does that mean I’ve got to become some automaton. It reminds me of something I read when a character was told they needed to make some changes, and they did. The response I always remembered because I always felt the same way: “you just wanted me to be me, but not so much. I don’t know how to be me, but not so much.”
That’s what this feels like. I’ve been trying to tone down my chattiness with customers for a long time, but when you’re sitting in the same spot, giving the same speech to dozens of people for hours… yeah.
I wasn’t wallowing when I went home, but did need to think about things. This morning was probably when I first thought about “yeah, it might be time to go check out another opportunity.”
But that feeling didn’t prompt action until late morning, in an e-mail I somehow missed from the day before. And that was just it for me, time to look for something new.
The trouble is, if this is meant to be a “last straw,” it’s a seemingly silly one. But I can’t help it. The job isn’t all that exciting, though I like helping people. Music helps me out.
And now, we can’t have music on at the desk anymore. Certainly nothing from the computer.
That may seem small, but music helps me keep sane. Our background check computer has a very annoying AFIS fingerprinting system that beeps after every finger you take. We can’t control the volume on it or mute it or anything. And it’s very loud and right there. Not as piercing as nails on a chalkboard, but certainly aggravating.
Music would help me with auditory exclusion. Eventually I’d forget about the beeping or it would just kinda leave my mind and I’d focus on classical music, a documentary I pulled up, whatever.
But our computers are monitored and somebody complained that only work-related stuff can show up, and no Youtube or anything with sound because it might disturb the tutoring kids a few feet beyond the cubbyhole that is our office. So, no music.
I didn’t turn it on today. It was a slightly shorter shift, too. But I didn’t turn it on and in fact, packed away the radio I had on the desk. I used it to connect with a jack to the computer speakers since the tower was under the desk and you couldn’t hear anything.
My first day working without music?
I was headachy and trying to hide my numbness at the end (and get that beeping out of my ears). It was awful, and I’m glad a bunch of tutors weren’t there today. I would’ve had a hard time saying “yes, I’m fine.” to other people if they asked. I suck at lying.
Yes, lacking music is kinda the last straw. Strip away my ability to extend some personality and good tunes on really low volume to get rid of that beeping sound for a little while, and what’s left is an angry shell of a human being.
And if I can find something better, something that pays better certainly (I maxed out my raises a long time ago), something that lets me be pleasant and creative without rubbing people the wrong way. I don’t want to teach in a classroom, not for me anymore. But I’m going to focus my anger on cleaning my house, and then look for other job opportunities I’d want to tackle.
Frankly, I’d love to have my own business some day, or learn how to make money off of ideas I’ve had in the past. But money was always taboo to talk about in the family and usually led to fights, so I’ve not learned much about researching risk and how to pull through or embrace what’s there.
Gonna have a LOT of reading to do the next few months on that.
But I’ve gotta do something else. This job has officially sucked the life out of me now, and I have no more to give.