QUESTION OF THE MONTH: J-O-B does not spell “fun”

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It was one of those days yesterday, up early after a bad night’s sleep to take a cat to the vet to have some dental work done, then trying to write while said cat, home from the vet and locked in a spare bedroom to recuperate, banged and scratched at the door so much we finally let him out. Needless to say, I finally just said “screw this” and vowed to do it today, after a better night’s sleep.

So, the question this month:

Which one social convention would you get rid of? In other words, what’s one thing that society insists you do that you can’t stand?

Maybe this isn’t society making these rules, but society tells us to be polite and to do what you’re asked to do by your employer or find another job, and doing this is part of that. I’m going with it…

I’m on disability and no longer have a job outside the house, but one of the things I didn’t like was having to socialize with the people I worked with outside of work. It was one thing to go out for a drink with some of the guys I worked with, but another thing entirely when it was the whole office.

We had a tradition at my 1984-2004 job called Midyear. It was a two-day retreat, offsite, usually at a place where it was too much of a pain in the backside to drive home from at night. Part of it was the usual meeting (how’d we do in the first half of the year, what were our plans for the rest of the year, finding out about any new products or releases of software, recognizing career milestones, etc.). That was about four hours of the thirty-six we’d be together. The rest of it was party and organized play. The organized play part was a hassle, because it was usually hotter than blue blazes outside and involved strenuous activity, usually after a night of drinking.

One year, we played kickball. Sounds simple enough, right? Well, they decided that wasn’t enough. We had to be joined at the wrist with another person. The guy I was tied to decided, after we got on base, to steal second. Without telling me. I was a lot bigger and clumsier than he was, and we ended up in a heap, and we were out. Another year, they kept it simple and had us play volleyball. It must have been 110° in the shade and about 75% humidity, and again, this was after a late night involving lots of beer. I just wanted to find a place to go and sleep for about twenty hours because I had just come back from South America after a week and a half of being unable to communicate with anyone outside the job, and I was hung over and in a real crappy mood. It took a long time for me to realize that I drank so much beer because I really didn’t want to be there. Being half in the bag was the only way I could deal with the festivities. And I think most of the people felt the same way.

In 2000, the company (which had merged with another) hired a guy who decided he wanted an all-hands meeting that would start on Sunday afternoon. (His rationale was that he wanted us all to have some “skin in the game.”) What kind of an idiot does that? It was in Atlanta, but they wanted everyone to get rooms at the hotel so we could all be together. I was still dealing with losing my mother, and my mother-in-law was very ill and I didn’t want to leave Mary alone with her, but I flew home to go to the meeting. However, I refused to get a room at the hotel. Screw that nonsense, I decided. I wasn’t in an especially sociable mood and didn’t see the sense of spending that much time with my co-workers outside of work. (Naturally, three months after the meeting, the guy was gone; we thought it might have something to do with starting a meeting on Sunday afternoon, but no, he had found himself a better job and left.) There weren’t any repercussions from that, because I made all the meetings on time. Had they decided to have the meeting in Nashville or something, I would have had to stay at the hotel.

Oh, the things I did to keep that job….

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Author: John Holton

I'm a writer and blogger who writes and blogs about things that interest me.

9 thoughts on “QUESTION OF THE MONTH: J-O-B does not spell “fun””

  1. Thankfully I never had to deal with this kind of fraternizing with co-workers. Sounds like it could be awkward, though with the right co-workers it might be a good time. I rarely wanted to hang out with co-workers except when I was on the road and then my co-workers were all I had other than passing encounters with people with whom I had no solid relationship.

    I did put up with a lot of silly stuff in the name of work. I guess most of us do at one time or another.

    Arlee Bird
    Wrote By Rote

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  2. These kind of meetings no longer take place in my industry. When the money goes away, so do these “perks.” I didn’t enjoy them and I don’t miss them.

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  3. I’ll tell you what really ticks me off about a certain social convention that I lived with for 43 years; going to work in a suit and tie! Every day, without fail, shirt, tie, pressed pants, shined shoes, clean shaven, etc. Never once, unless I went in on a Saturday, did I ever dress any other other way. Convention allowed, however, that we could remove our suit coats if we were in our own work area. I used to like to turn the sleeves of my dress shirt up one turn; I once had a supervisor tell me that his superior told him to suggest to me that this didn’t look proper and maybe I should stop this practice.

    I am absolutely envious of today’s professionals. Dressed well but comfortably attired.

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