Can’t get no (job) satisfaction

Christopher De Venecia (The Philippine Star) - March 28, 2014 - 12:00am

From freelancing woes to keeping those potential employers on their toes, we give you the best of our First Jobs issue. With this around, you might just get sick of constantly getting hired.

Don’t say we didn’t warn you.

MANILA, Philippines - It was Sartre who noted in his seminal work No Exit that “hell is other people.” I would argue that, on the subject of job satisfaction and considering any kind of career for that matter, more often than not, it’s the people you’re working with who become deal breakers as to whether or not you stay within your six-month probationary period prior to regularization. Also, given a one- or two-year gestation period (as our generation is wont to jump from job to job vs. Gen X-ers and Baby Boomers who have greater staying power), it’s the same people who make it difficult for you to leave as well. Cue Vitamin C.

Unless you’re some kind of transient being, a shark like the suits from Wolf of Wall Street, or an entrepreneur who can function as his or her own boss and “bravest individual” (lots of theater references being thrown around here), it is never the case that you’ll enter a company or corporation in which you’re immediately on top, calling the shots, and making it hell or heaven for your subordinates depending on your leadership capabilities.

More often than not, you start from the bottom (sometimes, even below the bottom) and have to report to superiors who you will either a) dote on as a mentor; b) respect to the point of evolving some form of love-hate relationship (the love outweighs the hate so you stay anyway; check out the documentary on Eames and listen to what his employees have to say about him); or c) wrack your brains over the embittering fact that you are more qualified than him or her, and yet reality, lack of cunning, and/or tenure makes this unfathomable, incomprehensible reality possible. After all, for a generation known for its excess, entitlement, and narcissism, we often feel we’re the sh*t and deserve so much more than what we’re getting.

I’ve worked about six jobs since graduating college — three with different theater companies, an actual corporate gig, and two with non-competing publishing groups — one of which I have embraced as part of my DNA. And for someone who’s always been about learning, personal growth, and the chance to nourish my mind and nurture my passions, the biggest determining factor for me in keeping any job (or commitment for that matter) has always been the people I work with. I should be able to fall in love with them, I feel; lest I burst through the swiveling doors faster than you can say hell on earth, or Captain Planet.

I mean, can you imagine having to deal with the circumstances of Sartre’s No Exit for longer than six months (or for the weaker-willed, weeks, or even days)? For your enlightenment, the play follows three strangers who are stuck together in a room fashioned in the style of the Second French Empire (sorry, b*tches, you didn’t make it to heaven). Garcin, Inès, and Estelle are souls damned to endure each other’s company for the rest of eternity; they initially misconstrue this as a reprieve from the sadism of having to endure torture devices. Soon, they realize they were to become each other’s torturers — the discordance of their existence and inseparable proximity, the power play, and the failed attempts at intimacy (one is a lesbian, one is straight, and the other, asexual) a form of punishment, a reminder of the moral crimes they have committed in their previous lives. “Hell is other people,” indeed.

In any of my previous jobs, an annoying comment from a co-worker would warrant a raised eyebrow. Two, a blood-curdling evil look that could melt even the most wicked of Elphabas. And three, well, know that I would have already gone through several scenarios in my head, plotting the many ways by which I could dispose of you. I suppose everyone has an inner Madame Claudia. But treat me with kindness, compassion, and respect, and I will be your BFF through and through; heck, I’ll even be the Yna to your Angelo.

I suppose I would have stayed longer (or never left) any of those previous jobs if everything was kept at status quo from day one (I usually get along with all of my co-workers. Well, at least I think I do, in which case ignorance is bliss). It takes a while for me to warm up and get comfortable but once I do, you will love me as much as I would actually, genuinely love you. I’m not kidding. “Everybody should like everybody,” as the saying goes.

I happen to like the idea of creating a family for yourself in the time you spend away from your own family. But it’s always the case that someone comes in to ruin all that, whether it’s a change in management, the tides, workstation, accountability or an ubu (read: tyrant) who throws his or her weight around to pathetic depths. Sometimes, the departure of a fallen comrade will also make you reevaluate your own reason for staying a.k.a. “the bandwagon effect.”

It is here where fulfillment enters the equation (though I won’t be all hypocritical about it and say that I have ever stayed in a job wherein I hated the people but my fulfillment kept me in place — to that, I have been wont to say, “I don’t give a damn about your f*ckin money. F*ck the money!”). If you love your work enough that a deficit of favorable fun can be mitigated by a surplus of career satisfaction, then by all means, stay. I mean, like I said, you do have to be your own bravest individual at the end of the day. Sometimes too, individuals are so clear about their goals that they have worked out the nitty-gritty of it — so that even a setback such as hellish workmates or a bastard boss becomes an essential toil, a necessary evil in pursuit of the bigger picture. But as with our everyday experiences that have become, in a way, absurd, sometimes it’s not even the destination or the bigger picture that matters anymore but the journey and the finer details. I would much rather enjoy myself, my life, than slave away under harrowing, less than ideal circumstances created by other people.

Now, as to where it is you find recompense as you enter the work force, that’s another matter altogether. All is fair in love and wages. A general rule-of-thumb though: make sure, wherever it is, it’s someplace you won’t get killed. “Bawitdaba da bang a dang diggy diggy diggy.”

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