Thursday, February 01, 2007


How To Know When You Hate Your Job

Here is another catalog of the obvious from the mainstream Internet press. To wit, a list of the symptoms of a lousy job - with my own annotations:

1) You dread going to work - Once you begin to feel a massive reluctance to start the day sitting on your chest like an incubus as soon as you awaken, you know your job sucks. I felt that way in the most pronounced fashion in North Carolina some twelve years ago. To relieve myself with a touch of humor, I would pull myself out of bed and mutter, "Time to make the donuts..." to my wife as I padded across the floor to the bathroom. The irony was that the job was only a fifteen minute walk - yes, that's walk - away. Sure enough, by the end of that year, that job was gone. (But never again would I have such an easy commute.)

2) You get no enjoyment from your day-to-day responsibilities - Most white collar work is drudgery, but some tasks have a certain anal compulsive satisfaction. A few even provide some of the mild fascination of solving a crossword puzzle. The great salvation (and opiate) of the modern white collar worker is the ability to surf the web while at work. Virtually all of us do it, and for some of us that is the only interesting thing we do all day. Nonetheless, it is important to remember that all those colorful glimpses of the outside world that the web offers us have nothing to do with our real world, whose monotonous banality we must confront if we are ever to truly change our lives.

3) You are uncomfortable with the company culture and environment - This is the great pitfall of working for large companies, where the corporate culture is most fulsomely developed. If you are dragooned into an auditorium with a hundred of your colleagues and asked to draw pictures with crayons as part of an HR exercise in "problem solving", you know the culture of your company has jumped the shark into the treacherous waters of mass imbecility. If you're so far gone that you can actually go along with such silliness, a cup of Koolaid at some corporate Jonestown lies in the future for you.

4) Your relationship with your boss is turbulent - If your boss insults you, lectures you as though you were eleven, or even screams at you with sociopathic heedlessness, take heart. I've been there, too.

5) You see no opportunities for career advancement or enhancement - Unless you had the appropriate foresight (and soullessness) to have earned an MBA at a reputable business school, your fate will be Dead-Ends-Ville 99 times out of 100. Beware the managerial sleight of hand sometimes called "lateral movement", in which you are shuffled around from one project to the next, under the pretext of teaching you new things, while you remain at the same level wherever you go. Horizontal mobility is used here to camouflage a lack of vertical mobility.

"Employee Beware: Five Signs of a Lousy Job" from

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