I’m starting to see what a lot of other single people, perhaps, already have learned–other people don’t think single people deserve work-life balance.
Now, I haven’t had anyone say this to me in person. But I have approached my current job a little bit differently than I have approached other jobs. I have indirectly let it be known that I am not one of those workers of whom you can just take advantage–that’s my friend Clara. I’m not worried about being the perfect employee or losing my job. I let people know that when the clock hits that time at the end of the workday, I’m gone.
Recently, a lot of changes have been made at my job. Essentially, everything I liked about my job is either now gone or likely will be very soon. The only thing that is still in the “very soon” category is a change being made to what time I have to be at work in the mornings and what time I get to leave in the afternoons. Nobody has told me that is about to change, but I’m not stupid. My job duties have completely changed, and the people I work with are totally different people.
They have me training with this guy, whom, I can tell, doesn’t seem to understand what my hours are at work. He’s the kind of guy who is very into his job, very dedicated. I’m not like that, especially not now that my employers have f*cked my job all up with these changes. Plus, I’m a contract employee and he’s not…so why should I be dedicated when my employer is not dedicated to me? You think this is true for every job. You also think it’s true that changes occur at every job. But neither of these things in a regular job is like how they are in a contract position. There is absolutely no stability in a contract job in any sense, no regularity or uniformity–you do whatever they want whenever, regardless of what you’re told in the beginning about the position or what you’re told while working the position. Contract jobs might as well never have job titles, at least not in IT, because the title won’t apply for long (if ever). And then to top it off, most contract jobs eventually end, usually in a year or less. Now that I understand this about how employers yank their contractors here, there and yonder with no regard for them, I will not be taking contract IT jobs ever again.
Given all of this, it should be of little surprise that I care little about what the company’s needs are, what their customers’ needs are. I will probably be getting tossed out of the company after my contract is up, regardless of how well I do, and I wouldn’t necessarily like to have my contract renewed there anyway. I plan to move to another city/state, and that has been my plan for a while and I am applying for jobs in those places…even have one interview lined up. So, I care about putting in my 8 hours and then getting the hell out of there. And even with a permanent position, frankly, I’d be the same way and have been the same way.
Every day this week, I’ve had to let this guy who is training me know that I get off work at X time, because he talks as if I’m going to still be around after that time or like I have time to stick around a little later and do XYZ. I flatout told this guy, “My supervisor said my hours are still the same, so until they say different I’m out at [X] time.” This afternoon, one of the other guys I now work with, this creepy guy, assumed I would still be around late, and my trainer heard me tell him what time I leave. Immediately, my trainer was like, “You’re ready to go home, aren’t you? Do you have kids you’re taking trick-or-treating tonight?” because it’s Halloween in the US.
Look, I know what that question really was–trying to find out if I have kids and is that the reason why I am adamant about leaving work at a certain time. Because having kids is the only legitimate reason for running away from your job, don’t you know. Especially if you’re a woman. My friend Clara lets people know she can’t stay late because of her son all the time or she’s leaving early because of her son, and people accept that. But with me, people are wanting to know why I “have” to leave at X time.
1) Halloween is a fake holiday. It’s one of the most pointless days I’ve ever known. I especially can’t stand how there are grown adults who “celebrate” Halloween; they need to grow the f*ck up. Nobody should pay any attention to it, in my opinion, so it’d never have a thing to do with why I’m leaving work.
2) There’s so much wrong with thinking only parents have a legitimate reason to run off from work, including the fact that they probably are actually the main ones who need the damn money if they’re going to see any overtime pay from staying late. The average single person just has bills. Parents have bills and expensive-@ss kids. Yet parents are actually the main ones always trying to leave work early or on time. This guy at my job basically has a newborn, and ever since he had that kid he has never again worked a full day not called Monday (our busiest day) on the job. Yet he says he doesn’t have enough money. He’s an hourly contractor…hmm, he’s leaving after 4-5 hours of work…wonder why he’s not making anything.
He and I need to swap hours. Working 4-5 hours most days is my kind of schitt. They should have put someone like him in my new position (and they could have, but didn’t–wonder why?), where they’re talking about working overtime (which I loathe) and Saturdays (which is just sacrilegious and damn-near something to walk out the door over, especially if you love college football more than anything, as I do). Plus, let’s be real–who is more hands-on with babies and kids, moms or dads? What the hell does he need to be at home all the time for? All he’s going to do is say, “Here, hon, the baby is crying” or “Here, hon, the baby needs to be changed,” hand the kid to the mother and then go sit down in front of the TV or the computer. Sorry, men–I have had this kind of convo with dads before, and you guys just have no idea how little dads help with or do for their kids compared to the kids’ mother.
Ironically, the exact reasons why I don’t have kids are because I don’t want to have to care for anyone–financially or in any other way–and because I want a life and because I want my life to be about me. That includes work–I don’t want a life that is about work. This is where “work-life balance” comes in. Everyone I know who looks on the bright side when it comes to working overtime is a parent–usually, a man–and it’s always about the money.
My observation about women has been that women who have kids tend to know on some level that their life is not theirs anymore, it’s not about them–so they don’t even think that way. They think in terms of what their kids (or husband) need, what’s best for their kids. Kids need things that cost money, however much time you’d rather spend with them. My observation about men is that the vast majority of men care more about making money than the vast majority of women do, for a variety of reasons–probably the three biggest are status, attracting women and what they were taught about being a man growing up. As a single female, I have totally different concerns, concerns that really don’t involve making money. These different concerns leave me trying to figure out how to explain to the moms, dads and single men I know why I value my free time far more than I value the extra money I’ll get by working on Saturday (the extra money being something I don’t value at all). Yet all of them will be home on Saturday or enjoying some activity outside the home and outside of work.
3) Why do I “have” to leave at X time? Because that’s what time I’m scheduled to leave. And I have every right to leave at that time. Whether or not I have kids is immaterial.
One more point before I go–not too long ago, I was reading an article online where the author wondered why people speak of “work-life balance.” Is working really so bad and do people hate their jobs so much that they need to categorically separate it from the rest of their life, the author wondered. At that point, I wondered where in the hell this author has been her entire working life. Seriously, she must be part of the lucky 10-15% of people who loves their job. Ever notice how it’s always writers with real writing jobs, always entertainers who have officially “made it,” always people who work in the media, always people who make big bucks who love their jobs? Gee, I wonder why. No wonder they can’t relate. I know they didn’t start at the top, but the point is they’re there now and now they don’t “get it.”
Pay me a ridiculous amount to dish sports on ESPN three hours a day, and see how much I love my job. Pay me to write ridiculous articles about how I can no longer relate to mere commoners who need work-life balance because I make enough money to actually pay bills and eat as a writer as opposed to having to write on the side like 90% of writers do (myself included). Or how about those ridiculous articles about “do what you love for a living”? You do know that the average person “loves” things that either don’t pay, don’t pay enough to make a living or require expensive schooling only to be shut out of jobs because that person has never had a job in that industry, right? Oh, I forget–you no longer relate to the mere commoner because you’ve got the rare cushy, enjoyable writing job that actually pays bills.
Over the past week, I’ve confirmed that, yes, work and life have to be separated for most people, including myself. I am largely in that category where what I’d love to do generally doesn’t pay enough to make a living (writing and/or technical repair). I would agree with people who say to find a job you can tolerate, but that’s easier said than done. So, my best solution is to find a job I can actually do for the most amount of money I can get, because if I’m going to hate every job I get at some point then I might as well focus on the money. It’s not easy, because caring about money isn’t my nature. But I made more money at my last job, and the positives to that were now I have surpassed my initial savings goal and am on to my next savings goal (which I am close to meeting)…and I have still been able to buy everything I want (except a Mercedes), take trips everywhere I’ve wanted to go and enjoy myself outside of work. Although I hated my last job, it created a pretty decent work-life balance and I never had to work late or on Saturdays.