Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The Unpleasant 1/3 of Life (My Work History)

I haven't been happy at work for a long time now.

There are ups and downs all the time but generally I'm unhappy, I'm annoyed, I'm stressed, I'm pissed, I'm frustrated. However, I'm not sure if this is because of the job itself or because of a personality flaw or my lack of coping skills or what.

When I was 16, my first job was at a restaurant as a bus person. I don't remember my feelings toward it but I do remember crying in the car when my dad would drop me off. Finding the place deserted when I went in one day was not heart-breaking :) The owners had skipped out in the middle of the night.

My next real job (besides standard baby-sitting) was as a drug store cashier. I worked there through the rest of high school and after. I remember liking this job for the most part with some negative mixed in.

At 19, I moved out of my parent's house (dropped out of college) and across the country. That's a whole other story but when I finally started working, I had cashier/retail jobs until I became a nanny for a 3-month old baby girl. She was a cutie but her mom was a nut job. I loved the work but dealing with her mom was hard on me.

I left the nanny position 9-10 months later when I moved again, returning to my home town. I had formed strong ties with people at the drug store and they agreed to hire me back but for a different store. I was hired as the manager of the 1-hour photo. It was in an extremely busy area and we were constantly over capacity. That, along with a bad situation getting worse with my personal life, caused me a LOT of stress. I remember that Halloween had been a particularly bad day at work and I went to my mom's for a party. I went upstairs away from everyone, stood in a corner and cried. It all felt so hopeless.

After that I transferred back to my original store to work part time in their photo lab and not as a manager. At the same time I took a job as a nanny for a 9 week old little boy. In general I was happy with both jobs. Money sucked but my ex and I were always good with money and it wasn't an issue. I LOVED nannying. Seriously, best job I've ever had.

During these two jobs my life basically fell apart and my ex and I separated. I ended up moving away and leaving both jobs about 2 years later. I couldn't support myself anymore without my ex on so little pay and I needed a big change.

A brand-new drug store of the same chain was opening in my new town and I used my experience to easily get another photo lab manager position. That lasted about 3 months. Looking back it seems much longer. I really liked the photo-developing aspect of the job and I was good at managing the dept but I COULD NOT take the customers anymore. It was all over when my teenage employee's eyes moved from the angry woman storming away, to me, and said, "OMG you totally laughed in her face!!" Ugh. Not my best manager moment. I was so frustrated by getting yelled at for something that wasn't my fault, that I couldn't fix, for the millionth time. It was an "if you don't laugh, you'll cry" situation. I didn't get in trouble for the incident but I was so done with retail.

My bf at the time (R, my husband) worked at a website development company and got me a job as their administrative assistant. I didn't think I could do this job. It was much different than anything I'd ever done and paid much better too. Salaried pay?! What's that? Turned out I could easily handle it but it was a tiny company and I was bored much of the time. I played flash games half the day and remember being pretty unhappy with the boredom (silly, silly past-me). A year after I was hired, both R and I were laid off on the same day along with many more of the company's employees. Doh!

I missed being a nanny and applied to several day care centers but was sad to find out those positions pay about $6.50/hour. There was no way I could support myself on that. With R's help and encouragement I again branched out regarding the types of jobs I might be able to do. I really never considered that I could make more than a cashier's salary.

My next job was scheduler for a company with many medical offices. It's complicated to explain and this is already way too long but basically I cold-called people all day long and scheduled appts for them. I worked there for a little over 4 years. It didn't pay as well as the admin asst job but paid much better than any other job I'd ever had. At the beginning I liked it well enough but I eventually became stressed and frustrated with its tedious nature, the tiny raises, lack of promotion possibilities, and upper management in general. It was not a career.

I went back to school while at this job and finally finished a degree in biotechnology. I haven't mentioned it yet but none of my jobs have had anything to do with what I'm interested in (besides nannying anyway). I love sciences: biology (marine, plant, cell, micro), astronomy, geology, etc. Biology mostly though :)

After graduation I procrastinated about 6 months and started applying to lab tech positions and other things. I didn't get called back for the ones I liked the best. I interviewed at several places and was offered a job at a small company that couldn't give me health insurance and wasn't biology related but was in the right science-y direction. At the same time R got me an interview at the company he had been working at for 3+ years. It was a MUCH different position than anything I'd ever done before. I was very intimidated but he thought I could do it. It was a far cry from the science-related field I wanted to be in but it would pay about 3x as much as I was making.

I interviewed and I got the job. Pay was a HUGE part of why I took it. I could imagine having it as a career. It had good health insurance and a 401k. R works in the same building as me - we get to have lunch together, and sometimes commute together.

But there are lots of negatives that have compounded over the 4+ years I've been there and I'm very unhappy. And now I have a decision to make. A decision that I'm having a very hard time making.


  1. Oh, my gosh, you and I have had very similar work lives. I'm also at a point where I need to decide what to do about a very unhappy work situation.

    I'll be thinking of and praying for you!

  2. A bad work situation makes the rest of your life seem worse.
    You only get one life. Is the extra money completely necessary? Can you get by on less? Keep looking. I'll be hoping for you!!!

  3. I can't imagine working at a place where I'm unhappy. We spend way too much of our lives at work - like you said, about 1/3 of our lives! If you're unhappy, you have to move on. Good luck in your decision.

  4. I hear ya on the 'sucky job front'. I'm kind of in the same boat. Every day I go into the office, I feel like another little piece of me dies. It just plain sucks. I look back on the jobs I had when I was young and life was easy. I'd kill to go back and be an ice cream server at this little mom-n-pop ice cream stand--ah if only I could live on that $3.10 an hour wage. Sigh.

    Thinking of you and hoping things get better.