That’s something I need to get out there, right away. I complain and I think I’m good at it, in that I can make people laugh while I’m doing it. That means I’m somewhat gifted at concealing my general curmudgeoniness by sweetening it up with self-deprecation or wit.
I am a complainer though. Let’s not get it twisted.
I can complain about anything: the heat, the cold, I’m hungry, I’m full, I could really go for a drink, I need to stop drinking, I’m broke and… um… I suppose I haven’t been able to complain about the opposite for some time.
My main target for complaint though is work. I HATE work. I can’t stand my job. I feel like a part of me dies whenever I enter my workplace. I’m finding it harder and harder to suppress my urge to put my fist through my computer screen every time it freezes, etc…
There is no shortage of policies, people or procedures to moan or groan about either. I tell friends that I can’t watch the movie Office Space anymore, since I no longer find it funny.
It’s too real, dammit.
Operating procedures change this week. Next week, they change back to what they were. Our computer system finds such innovative and unique ways to freeze up, slow down or stop functioning each day that I feel like I’m being monitored by some malevolent being, who messes with the thing to the delight of an audience of similarly sinister demons. (Paranoid much?) I have the same conversations with some coworkers that I had when I began there more than 18 months ago. Sometimes I wonder if I’m reliving the same day, over and over…
When I tell this to people both in and outside of Montreal, they all respond with the same refrain: “Why don’t you get a new job?”
I tell them I can’t. I tried. I want to, but I’m under-qualified. “Montreal is a competitive place for Anglos and my French is piss poor.” (This is another one of my pet things to complain about.)
They shrug and then I steer the conversation towards something that I can complain about that doesn’t leave me feeling like I’m being eaten up inside by emptiness. (“Why do food court places give you so much food?” Try complaining about that outside of Canada/U.S/Europe and see how much sympathy you get.)
The truth is, my job really does bug me. I feel like I’m not being challenged. I feel like I’ve been wasting my time. I feel like I can do better. I feel a little ashamed of how long I’ve been performing the same tasks when I know many people my age who are living their dreams. I feel wholly under-stimulated and that I may actually be losing brain cells. I deserve better.
But do I? Really?
Montreal is definitely a difficult place to find work, especially when you are a functioning, but not fluent, French speaker. That’s fact.
But how hard have I been looking?
When I first arrived in the city, I hustled for work and found a job installing cell phone towers after two weeks, even though I still don’t really understand how a cell phone works. After two weeks of 12 or 14 or 16 or 18 hour days spent on snowy rooftops, 13 days in a row, with long drives each morning to Ottawa or Quebec City, and then not a sniff of work for four weeks, I realized I needed something more stable to pay off my bills and my slowly-expanding Visa debt. (My finances were in a United State. No? Too soon?)
Enter my present job. I thought it was a godsend when I first got it. Almost $15 to sit on my ass and call people and transcribe interviews all day. I got to work on my technical writing and speak to people with different professions across the country and continent. Piece of digestive cookie (read: easy to stomach.)
But, it got old fast. I talked to friends working as journalists back home and got antsy to start doing that again. The wages are about two times as good in my hometown as they are here and I saw friends at weddings and they all had money and were buying homes and cool, adult toys (think boats and ski-doos, not dildos, Perv.)
I began to feel like my job was sort of beneath me. I can make more money, I’d think. I can do better.
And I started to look around again. I had a couple interviews for copywriting jobs. I didn’t get them. I’d send out a resume/cover letter each week and not hear back from the hiring managers. I had a brief stint with a newspaper that went dry after two stories.
And here I am, 18 months later, still doing the same thing. I make fun of my job constantly (most of us do there.) I treat it with disdain and I say monkeys can do what I do. Yet, I still wake up every morning and walk or bike downtown to put on my headset, turn on my computer and make 50 – 100 calls a day. I still take the job seriously enough that I don’t let my productivity numbers fall. It must be pride. Maybe I do it to convince myself that I’m better. That I deserve better.
In the end though, the job pays the bills and keeps me afloat in this amazing, buzzing city. This company made it possible for me to stay here. If it wasn’t for this work, I’d probably be somewhere out west or up north and I’d have missed out on meeting all the interesting, hilarious and crazy people that have coloured the last two years of my life. Despite all the everyday tediousness and triviality, I’ve had a killer – almost – two years in Montreal and, ultimately, I have no regrets about making the move.
And all the hate and scorn I feel for work makes me wonder whether I have an inflated sense of self-worth. Am I deluded to think I can do better here? Why can’t I be content with a job that lets me just live here? Don’t I owe the company something? Who am I?
Is it a symptom of our times that I feel entitled to put my time and energy towards something more than mindless, robotic, entry-level work? I have a degree and a brain and some talent for writing, I think, so why am I doomed to this desk-chair destiny? Are all of us twenty-somethings going to be unhappy and bitter if we aren’t doing exactly what we want to do because we’ve been told we can be anything? Or is my discontent a consequence of my ambition, in so much as I know what I want, but I’m just not doing it right now and it’s pissing me off?
I’d like to think it’s a mixture of entitlement and ambition. I want to do better. But if I really did – I mean, if it was gnawing at me constantly and I just HAD to find another job – then I’d be spending every minute outside of work searching for something more fulfilling and challenging. I’d be on the job boards every night. I’d be talking to people at magazine release parties or pitching like mad to the weeklies. I’d be doing freebie write-ups for companies, reviewing albums and interviewing bands, or taking copywriting classes or French courses on my nights off.
But I’m not really doing any of that. I’m writing a blog post where I’m complaining about shit. I’m too tired of looking at a computer screen all day to apply for jobs, I say. What am I doing right now?
Do I really deserve a better job?
Deep down, probably.
But probably not with the effort or seriousness I’m putting into things at the moment.