Saturday, February 9, 2013

A Very Dirty Dozen

Today marks my 12 years since I started working for my current employer. I had cracked jokes about wanting a party for my work-iversary & mentioned it several times in the weeks leading up to today.  However, the last week has been so hectic that I completely forgot about the impending anniversary.  My co-workers didn't forget, though.  They surprised me by completely covering my cubicle in streamers & various decorations while I was gone on my lunch break.  They also conspired to throw a little party & they all brought different snacks & food for lunch.  There were veggies, hummus, crackers, cake, and cookies.  One co-worker gave me a 12 pack of snack-sized Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, which are my all-time favorite candy.  They also passed around a card for several people to sign.  It was a nice change of pace to sit & chat w/ the folks in my department.  We make small talk quite a bit, but we don't get a chance to really converse much anymore.  It seems like I've been sort of detached from the group as the powers-that-be have started loading me down with more duties.

To put it into perspective: I was 20 years old when I started working at "the Net".  I had been back in Oregon for a year after living in Arkansas for awhile.  I had been working for a home improvement store, but after the corporate office took over scheduling, all of us employees who were classified as part-time were cut down to 20 hours per week.  Being married & having bills to pay, I had to look for another job.  I just casually looked through the classified ads in the newspaper & saw an ad that touted "flexible hours and a convenient Medford location".  I called & set up an interview & was hired right away.  I was nervous b/c the job was for a telemarketing company.  The redeeming quality of this company, besides it being steady, full-time employment, was that they only called to renew memberships and take pledges for member-driven, non-profit organizations.  That meant no cold-calling, no hard sales, no commission.  Basically, not your typical telemarketer.  I was on the phone for 8 months before being moved to an administrative position.  In the years since, I've held nearly ever position in the company, except for the executive roles & IT.  I've been trained to program 2 very different automated dialing systems, I've written scripts, I've done all manner of data manipulation and coordination.  At one point I even held 3 separate positions by myself.  (That sucked, by the way.)

My pink cubicle.
The Net has seen me at my best and worst.  I worked there when I turned 21.  I came in the day after my birthday with the most horrific hangover I had ever had, but dammit if I didn't work my full shift anyway!  I worked there through my entire pregnancy.  I worked there when I was struggling in an unhappy marriage and I worked there throughout my divorce.  I worked there when my Granny died & while I was trying to adjust to life without her.  I worked there during my brief "free & single" phase, as well as the euphoric months after I first met my husband.  When our wedding ceremony was available to view online, a crowd of co-workers gathered around a computer and watched my hubs & I get married by Elvis.  I've been skinny, fat, and mid-sized at the Net.  I've cried, yelled, and laughed till it hurt at the Net.  I've made friends & haters at the Net.  I've been so angry and dissatisfied that I've contemplated quitting or finding a new job more than once, but I never can bring myself to leave.  A lot of that is because I've invested so much time there.  It can also be attributed to the way my employer has taken care of me and always been there when I needed help. When I needed to get an apartment so I could leave my ex-husband, my boss loaned me money for the deposit.  When I was a struggling single mom not receiving any child support, my boss let me work as much overtime as I needed to make sure I could pay my bills.  When I needed to cut hours to take care of my baby, they let me make my own schedule.  When the antidepressants I was taking after my Granny died were making me lose focus & start slipping, they were the only ones who spoke up & told me that something wasn't right.  Yeah, I should make more money.  Yeah, I'm often overworked and very under appreciated.  To me, that's just all a part of the give and take.  No relationship, professional or personal, is perfect.  There are good and bad days.  There are highs and lows.  In 12 years, I've seen a lot of both.

Looking back on the past dozen years, I can't picture myself anywhere else.  The bumps in the road, the frustrations, the annoyances have all been worth it.  I feel supported by my employer.  They allow me to mouth-off, curse, crack jokes, and be myself without repercussion because I know there's a line & I'll seldom cross it.  I clock in, I work hard, and I try to cause as little trouble as possible.  I might whine & complain when I'm forced to expand my comfort zone, but I do it anyway.  I take on as much work as they give me and rarely fail to meet the expectations of the job.  They push me & I push back, but it always works out in the end.

I have to say, it's been a crazy 12 years.  I'm interested to see what happens in the next 12.

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