Tuesday, August 25, 2015

It's Monday And I'm Late For Work...And I Don't Care

I’m late—way late—and I’m walking toward the T station and my train is pulling into the station and I think, “To heck with it. You’re going to be very late.” And I let it go. It’s the same feeling I get when I’m traveling by plane, and the second I feel the wheels leave the runway and if I’ve left the iron on, well, it’s out of my hands.  
After getting carted off to the hospital a couple of times with chest pains when I was an up-and-coming go-getter, I decided a while back I wasn’t ever going to risk a heart attack running for a train. I’ll get to work eventually, and, since I’m on an hourly contract, I won’t get paid like salaried employees dawdling this morning. My employer can dock me, though God forbid I should work a minute over my allotted 35 hours. Then this university with the winning football program would have to start handing out benefits to contractors.  This is the hiring agreement. When you give your all and you’re still not looked upon as deserving benefits, you start to view the workplace and the world in general with a jaundiced eye, with a lot less regard for a career and more watchful for well-paying contracts. 
Some mornings it just takes longer to get started, especially Mondays when the weekend teases you with the idea that you might be gaining just a little control of your life. I currently have a contract where I have to go, as it’s called, on-site. That means I actually have to go to an office and sit at a desk and in order to do that I have to be on a strict schedule. I know most people might say, so what? Isn’t that kind of the definition of a job? But when you’re a freelancer, when you’ve been working for yourself for most of the 21st century, when your name is associated with two successful theaters that you started in Boston, and yes, while I enjoy just about everything about the contract, the idea of preparing for the office is a bit old school. And at this point, I do have to make myself clear: I do enjoy this contract. It’s my fourth time in five years working at this site. It is a good gig. It pays relatively well, and it’s a polite, professional work environment, nothing close to the infamous Amazon workplace that just came out in the news this past week, with intelligent co-workers who respect one another’s talents and enjoy one another. 
No, it’s not the job, but the preparation, that gets to me. In order to get on-site, I have to get up at 6:15 and spend the next hour and fifteen minutes making myself presentable for being “on-site”— showering and shaving and putting on clothes that are inappropriate for summer weather before heading out the door for an hour-and-a-half commute courtesy of Boston’s limping public transportation system.  An hour-and-a-half commute one way translates into three hours per day times five days equaling 15 hours, or two full extra workdays that I’m not getting paid for. So what? a lot of people might say. This is what people do to make money; stop your complaining, at least you have a job. But when you’re working for yourself, you’re more wired to think like the person running the show and in this case, billable hours—wasted time, isn’t something the typical commuter thinks about. To them, it seems to me, the commute is just one more thing to endure, like a moody manager.

Lots of people like being on-site. The office is so much a part of them that they will whole-heartily admit they like coming to work. They like the office, its familiarity and structure. They like the clothes and the culture and the social aspect. They don’t see being on-site as a loss of their freedom; some I think see it exactly opposite. The last time I worked at this particular site, there was an executive there who decreed that all of the men should wear ties. This was a new arrangement since the last time I had worked there, and I actually had to go out and buy some ties. I bought two, both black and skinny, the least mainstream ties I could find. And even then I felt like I was dressed like an ice cream scooper at the local Dairy Queen. That executive is now gone, and I heard the no-tie rule took about a month to be instituted, but my biggest fear this time was that I would still be asked to cut my shoulder length hair. I still pull it back in a ponytail and wear a little less jewelry than I normally do, just to try to fit in. 
Many people do get self-satisfaction from the office—using their talents to do something they’re good at and sometimes it’s just fun to be good at something, they’re also furthering a cause or an organization that they can get behind. There are people who work for the same organization for thirty or forty years. Thirty or forty years! That’s how long you might get sent to prison for a really heinous crime. 
Different strokes. Organizations need people who are more structured, and also, thankfully for me, people who are less so. This contract will be up in four months, and when it’s over I’ll find something else. Hopefully something I don’t have to dress and shave to do. Some people like structure. Some of us don’t.

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