One year and no longer counting

March 13, 2012 is my one-year anniversary at Loathesome job. I called in sick.

More accurately, I called in vastly underslept which was not true but given the number of times in the past year I’ve gone to work vastly underslept and functioned I think I’m entitled, particularly on a day when the expected high temperature is around 75degF.

I’m also entitled because this is my second to last week at Loathesome Job and I’m burning sick leave for which I will not otherwise be paid. Yes, I gave notice, and yes, I’ve found another job to go to.

It’s been interesting telling the few people I’m friendly with at work that I’m leaving. Our SysAdmin, who is a contractor which means he’s costing way more than he would be if he was a full-time Fed like me, wanted to know what I was leaving my “lottery job” to do. His question got me to thinking, not that I hadn’t been thinking about this already, about what I value in a job.

Clearly what the SysAdmin values is money and benefits. Sort of not surprising since he and his wife have two kids under 10 years-old. But for me, Loathesome Job hasn’t been a lottery job.

Sure, the money is superb; you can’t really say the money isn’t good when you don’t have to risk your life and limbs daily and they pay you over $100k per year. But the benefits aren’t there; since the Fed doesn’t recognize same-sex couples even though TGF and I are legally married where we live I couldn’t put her on my health insurance. Add that on top of the fact that a year ago we did the comparison to the plans I was being offered and the plan we’re on with her employer and determined when factoring premiums and deductibles I’d be losing money if I elected any of the Federal plans, Loathesome Job starts to look less and less like a lottery win. Then there are the actual facts of Loathesome Job that make it, well, loathesome.

The other day I was complaining to TGF about having to still wear “business” adjacent dress to the office even though I’d given notice. Bearing in mind that when confronted with “business casual” I immediately default to the lowest possible level I can (read: khaki slacks and a dress shirt with a button down collar), TGF asked me what was so bad about what I had to wear to work. It took me a while to figure out that it isn’t the clothes that bother me. It’s not even really the clothes as control mechanism, because there are so many control mechanisms at Loathesome Job. No, what really bothered me was the lack of trust dictating my wardobe evidences.

Simply put: if you can’t trust me enough not to show up in Daisy Dukes and a Butthole Surfers t-shirt, why should I believe that you trust me enough to do my job?

Loathesome Job was loathesome for a number of reasons – lack of access to natural light, the intractability of Management, the lack of willingness to shape the work assignments around the employees’ skills, the numerous control mechanisms among others – but the most loathesome thing about it was the lack of trust. When I get right down to it, that is a thing I value highly in my professional life: I’ve worked hard to develop not only the skills for my profession but also the judgement that goes with them so I want to be treated accordingly.

When WebAgency offered me the job I accepted they first called me then complied quickly with my request for an offer in writing. During our initial call I told them I’d need to give at least two weeks’ notice to maintain my professional integrity. “We wouldn’t expect anything less” was the reply.

The new job isn’t perfect; it is less money. But it has many of the things I wanted: interesting work, access to natural light during the day, work in a sphere I find interesting (if imperfect), with people who understand the concept of work/life balance. Yes, they will piss me off at some point. No, it won’t always be cake and unicorns with rainbows shooting out of their butts. But it will be better than Loathesome Job for the simple reason that I know they already respect me: after I accepted my new job I gave them a range of start dates, all of which allowed me some time off between positions. They picked the one that allowed me the most time off.


  1. Congratulations on your moving on! I’m glad to hear the work is more interesting.

    Beware of unicorns.

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