Programmer Martin Richards and I have quite a bit in common and it’s no surprise that we get along. One of the ways that we differ, however, is in how we treat work. Work, to him, is simply a job done for money paid. He never sticks around past five. He never thinks about work when he’s not at work. He’s a good Mormon guy, but he wouldn’t have a problem working for a tobacco company or alcohol distribution center or anywhere else, so long as the job was legal.
Once upon a time I tried to be that way. My friends and I had a knack for coming up with business ideas that were profoundly immoral. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized that I need more than a job in the longer term. More than a career, even. I need a relaitonship with my employer. If I’m going to spend 1,600 hours a year doing something, it has to be something I can at least somewhat buy in to. So when Martin left work without a care, I would leave brimming with anger… even though we both had the same basic criticisms of company policy.
Friday was my last day at Falstaff.
A lot of employers do not allow their employees to take “two weeks notice.” Once it’s announced that they’re leaving, they just assume that the person go because their productivity will go down considerably. It’s the professional world’s continuation of senioritus. I didn’t really start feeling it until this week.
It’s a funny thing. I set up this blog in many ways just to complain about my job. And yet… and yet I can’t think of a job or a company that I have cared about more. I have never been so emotionally invested in a position. Half of the time when I am angry I am so because I want the best for this company, or expect the best… or something. I gave roughtly 4,410 hours of my life to Falstaff. It cannot not matter to me. It’s why I simultaneously go home angry with the company and yet also defend it vigorously. Part of me really wishes that I had been able to just “turn it off” the same way that Martin does.
But it’s soon going to be coming to an end.The numbness finally set in. The realization that this particular battle no longer matters to me has finally taken hold.
As jobs so often mirror relationships in our lives, it makes me think of when my relationship with Julie was winding down after I realized that it was going to come to an end. I didn’t stop caring for her and about her. I didn’t stop loving her even. But something was gone. I went through the motions and made our last few months the best I could. I realized the sense of loss that would take place once it finally ended (that part never really happened because I acquired Evangeline and lost my mind, but I expected it to).
Maybe the strangest thing was how civil everything remained. Once she accepted it was over, there was a smoothness that explained to me why everything had managed to work for over four years. Even as our relationship was being destroyed, we managed to get along. That may have been the most haunting thing about the whole ordeal. Seeing what I was losing as I was about to lose it. Too late to actually do anything about it, but then too late to care to
A strange thing happened at Falstaff over the last couple of months: things started improving again. The Internet policy that drove us all batty was reversed. People that should have gotten raises got raises. Bad ideas started getting shot down. The company continued its streak of getting all the big things right and little things wrong, but I guess it became a time of bigger things… or maybe I have been better able to see the bigger things since I know all the little things will go away once I leave.
Within the last month or so I became sorry that I was leaving. Just in time to leave. I don’t know if I should look at it as leaving on a high note or as Falstaff’s last and greatest revenge for my abandoning it.