Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Five Reasons Why You Shouldn't Quit Your Job

Work pretty much sucks a lot of the time, even in the best of circumstances. Rumors fly that some people love their work so much they don't think it's work, but I've never seen one of them. They must be on "Oprah," I guess, which I never watch. But the work-exalted have to be out there somewhere. Someone's providing material for those inspirational posters you see on Facebook.

But for most of us, work lies somewhere between a Pakistani salt mine and a Dilbert cartoon. It's just kind of there, inhaling the better part of the day as you ignore those niggling ontological questions that sneak into your thoughts. Weren't you supposed to have learned the meaning of life by now?

We strive to perform just well enough to get by. If you do less than that, you get written up, and if you do more than that, no one notices, except your co-workers, who all stop talking when you walk into the  break room.

This post is for those who are thinking about quitting their jobs as an end in itself. Quitting an old job for a better one is a no-brainer, so that's not an issue. Neither is quitting a job for one equally as meaningless, since a change of scenery never hurts.

Anyway. Of all the reasons to hang in there, these are the top five.

1. You won't have to tell your parents you're thinking about graduate school.

You know the drill. It started in the first grade when your mom tried every ruse she could think of to get you into the Academically Talented section, and all you wanted to do was hang out with your new friends, good readers or not. To mollify your parents, you told them whatever they needed to hear so they'd leave you alone. You may have even gotten into the advanced reading group so they'd go away and quit making nuisances of themselves.

Ever since then, you told (or implied to) them whatever it took to give them the impression you really and truly were working toward Stanford law school or a Nobel Prize. Fortunately, life intervened and got you off the hook, allowing you to tell them, "Maybe next year." That's all over if you quit your job.

2. You won't have to join a health club and get in shape.

Many of us are pretty good at not doing (or minimizing) what we shouldn't be doing--smoking, drinking too much, eating Krispy Kreme donuts for dinner and so on. But doing what we should be doing--contributing to our 401k's, backing up computer files, and getting regular oil changes--is another story altogether. For years, we've told our friends and ourselves that we'd join the health club and get in shape if only we had time. If you quit your job, you'll have time--and one less excuse.

I mean, seriously?
It's worth noting that getting in shape leads to other unpleasant habits, such as healthy eating. When you have a job, you get to stand in line every morning at Starbuck's or some similar place for eight hundred calories of latte and breakfast roll. Quit your job, and that's over, only to be replaced by granola and green tea. You'll learn what stuff like anti-oxidants and Omega-3 fatty acids (eeew) really are, and you'll bore your friends with the explanations. You may even trim down, and when that happens, you won't look normal. Know how uncomfortable perfectly-clean houses are? So it is with bodies. They need to look a little bit lived in. After all, people famous for the way they look are seldom famous for anything else.

3. You won't be able to collect unemployment benefits.

This is the practical aspect to consider. It's pretty much of a riff on Homer Simpson's advice: Don't quit your job! Just do it half-assed like everyone else."

4. You won't have to let everyone know you've decided to become a consultant.

When someone mentions off-handedly that he or she has decided to open a consulting business, your first thought is to wonder why anyone would do something so harebrained. No clients. Uncertain pay. Shameless marketing and self-promotion. At which point you realize the person you're talking to is unemployed, and if that's true, was he-or she fired, probably was, and why don't they get a real job. Why place yourself in such a position?

5. Your friends won't roll their eyes when they read your mid-morning Facebook posts.

Post that cat-with-scotch-tape-on-his-paw video at 10:30 while you're at work, and your friends are blown away by your wit and your ability to slack and get away with it. It's also a way to get back at The Man, in a small way. But do it after you've quit, and everyone will think you're just sitting around with nothing to do while they have to suffer.

Even though work may suck a bit, it does give you an opportunity to learn new ways to endure, and with endurance comes knowledge, and with knowledge, Truth.

I can't remember who said that, but some one must have. Work colored by dead endishness  is not only the place to figure it all out, but also to figure out what's to figure out.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Saving Another One for Jesus

In hindsight, it was that beatific look they all seem to call upon at will, save for the children. Children have their own deceptions.

The half smiles. The relaxed eyebrows. The tilted heads. The I'm-gonna-be-raptured-and-you're-not countenance. The unsettling expression hovering between certainty and smugness. The women's ruffled white dresses with little flower prints. The men's ill-fitting plaid shirts, tails flapping.

When I first noticed this gathering, I thought they'd arrived for a Labor Day picnic. But the way they'd lean in when speaking to one another and then glance around to see if someone were listening or watching raised my hackles a little. Still, I wrote it off to their scamming on one of the two picnic tables near the 35-acre lake about thirty meters in front my home.

The community owns and maintains the lake as a neighborhood amenity. Private Property and No Swimming signs ring the lake, not that a lot of people from the outside really care. They like to run/dog walk/baby stroll by a lake, and most of the time, the residents don't care, either. Security is loose and pretty much focuses on really bad situations. No sane person would swim in it.

The spaniel and I ambled down the path, occasionally glancing backwards at the assemblage. Foliage blocked our sight as we rounded the bend, but when I was finally able to peek through the willows, three young men were standing in the lake, fully dressed, in thigh-deep water, their audience looking benignly on.

Of all the thoughts that spewed like electrons in my brain, two still stand out: Omigod, they really are going to do that, and Do they know how dirty that water is? The inflow-outflow into the lake is weak, which means oxygenation doesn't mitigate the accumulated dead fish and goose poop and other organic crud that accumulates to create a swampy odor. 

I raced home to exhort everyone gathered for our own party to look out the window to see what was happening. Older son: OMFG. Younger son: YFKM (dear reader, you figure that one out). Older son: Quick, get some O Brother Where Art Thou music on. Younger son: Call security? At which point one of the men in the water, now shirtless, was plunged backwards into the water by his Blessed Companions.

As he waded ashore to the applause of the gathered, I wondered what would happen next and what, if anything, I should do. I thought to contact security, but I didn't want to ruin the security guy's holiday. Besides, I thought, who cares? No one hurt anything. Besides, it was possible one or more of The Saved could be a resident.

It turned out that at least one of them lived here. Half the group ambled off, while the other half, including the Newly Saved, headed for the community pool about thirty yards away. It's locked, and only residents have keys. But in they went, presumably to wash the lake crud off the guy.

Why, I thought, does Jesus need a chlorinated pool to clean off the guy? Younger son: Maybe we can walk across the water now. I thought his idea had merit, and tried, but my toe sunk. The water was definitely not holy.

Full disclosure, here: I'm an unabashed, even proud atheist. I do not believe in god. I do not believe in a higher power, not counting the IRS. I am at a total loss to explain why otherwise rational people secretly, or sometimes not so secretly, subscribe to some unseeable magician who rules their lives. 

I'm grievously distressed at the climate-change deniers who also claim god did it, but hey. Even some pit bulls are nice dogs. I do not fault people for embracing what appears to me to be lunacy. If it works for them, that's fine with me. Lots of people succumb to the sacerdotal mysteries of Miley Cyrus or Kate Smith or Dr. Phil or Deepak Chopra or boxed mac and cheese, and that's cool. Go for it, say I. That religion provides comfort and tethering to so many is undeniable.

I guess my biggest problem with the religiously-inclined is the way they don't just exclude everyone else from their group--hey, Sigma Nus and Tri-Delts and Rotarians and Junior Leaguers do that--but they declare outsiders to be inferior beings. That means Egyptian Sunnis get to kill Copts, Syrian Alawites get to kill Sunnis, The Sunni AKP in Turkey gets to jail Alevis, Burmese Muslims get to blitz the Buddhists, and so on. Our Side Is Divinely Blessed, and You, Outsider, are inferior.

This group had no compunction at all about performing their rite at a place where this kind of activity was obviously prohibited. They assumed that since their mission was so holy, no one else would, or had the right to, object.

What's really depressing as hell is that no one, save one woman, on the HOA board seemed to care. Which may mean that a plurality, if not a majority of homeowners, feel the same way. Fail to take down a dead tree or fail to make sure the pool is open at 6 a.m. for the one or two people who occasionally use it at that hour and all hell breaks loose. 

But when it comes to someone doing something really, incredibly stupid in the name of Jesus, it's all okay.

Fortunately, it was still pretty funny.