Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The Lucky One

I grew up in the 1980's. But I came of age in the 1990's. What a great time, not. I saw things that will stay with me forever. Oh, the era of downsizing. One that has never truly changed. I remember a good friend in High School, his father had worked for the a company for 25 years. From the time his dad had graduated high school he had worked there. He had worked his way up the ladder. He had 'paid his dues', he had worked the hours, done the time, given loyalty, and every other cliche you can think of. Didn't matter. This man who had been with this company for 25 years, and had never had any other experience in the work world was handed his walking papers. His son, my friend, was in grade 12. The family was a mess. They had thought that devotion and hard work would be rewarded. It wasn't. In today's world we might say, well, why didn't the mother get a job. Sorry, that wasn't the bargain that was struck when they started out. They had no idea that it should work any other way.

When my mother graduated university in the late 60's she had 4 job offers before she graduated. A degree was it's own reward. You were the creme de la creme. The fact that she defied her father and got an education, at great personal sacrifice, which in his words 'was a waste of time for a woman' was an aberration. But her perseverance paid off in a career that lasted 31 years.

I have often felt deep jealousy about this. When I gradated university in 1997, with 2 degrees, I had no job prospects. I applied to over 200 companies. I didn't even receive one PFO letter (Please Fuck Off). Six months later I felt overwhelmed with gratitude that I managed to rangle a professional position. Most of my peers were slinging coffee at Starbucks, and happy for the pay cheque. I was damn grateful for the job. Mark was in the same position. There were nights were we talked about how wonderful it would be to actually be able to use our degrees. Now the world has changed again. I know recent graduates who tell me they won't work for less then $40,000 a year! What a dream! I was dreaming I might earn that much before I was 40. If I was lucky, maybe benefits. I was aiming for the stars, damn it!

In the last 11 years I have managed to carve out a career through hard work, a relentless ability to network and exploit every contact I have, and a willingness to to walk in everyday and find the joy in my job. I know others who haven't. The jilted. The bitter. I don't judge them. I could have been them.

Earlier this summer when I was passed over for a Full-Time job, a job I had been doing on contract for 4 year, to everyone's satisfaction, I was devastated. It really rocked my self esteem. I was back where I was 11 years ago. Scared. Inadequate. Without experience. Another graduate with lots of theory and no practice. Last week was the worst though. I got to stand in line at the EI office. I stood there. Thinking of all the weeks I put in 60-70 hours. I haranguing myself over all the extra things I took on, a waste of time, I thought. But mostly wondering, how did I get here? I knew it wasn't dedication, or hours worked, or effort expended. It was politics. And I have now come to be wary of politics. Like my friend in High School, I felt put adrift by things that I had no control over.

Yet, today the sun shone. I was redeemed. All those squares of grass I had planted rewarded me. I was recognized as being worthwhile. That may seem weak, but I'm happy for all those hours I worked, because someone recognized them.


Anonymous said...

Right on! You "Go Girl!!
I know you will love whatever place is lucky enough to benefit from your insights.

Unknown said...

Wow. Politics in the work place suck. Thank God I have never been hit with them, but I hope you found something you will love and someone who will appreciate you for you wonderful work ethics!