I realized something about myself this week. I have a sudden need for silence. Well, not sudden, I just haven’t noticed it all these months. I come home from work, and I am so agitated that I want to be isolated and hear no words, no movement, even the soft shuffle of feet walking down the hall irks me.
I tried to find the source of this, how I can reach such an elevated state of noise irritation that I want no sound. I’m primarily an auditory learner, and working in an open office has disadvantages for a person like me. I can hear chatting, paper shuffling, stapler dropping, fax machine dialing, and so on up to ten feet away. My ears so sensitive to the slightest wave of sound. So, not realizing, this affects my concentration, like a subtle antagonist. And if my stress level is further elevated, it just amplifies all this. I asked to be removed from people. It was seriously considered, even though my need for isolation and quiet seemed somewhat a concern, but in the end, it was decided others would interpret it wrong. They’d think me favored for having my own space rather than realizing it was helping ensure my sanity and letting me work in peace.
This week, we also had annual evaluations, which went quite well for me. I had no worries about the caliber of my workmanship and professional ethics and neither did my bosses. But the one area of concern I knew would come up is my assertiveness…well not exactly. Basically, I take the initiative to handle problems, to fix them, and I make people aware of what went wrong in the process hoping they’ll learn from the mistakes and manage to not commit the same missteps in the future. However, a year and half later, this hasn’t been effective. People still make the same errors, sometimes maliciously, and then I’m held accountable for making sure we receive payment. I’m the first to be yelled out when something reaches over 30 days old. I’m tired of being the only one held accountable for something I have no involvement in until the end. So, for those that maliciously go against the process or don’t have proper authorization, I will recommend they be written up. Evidently, this is outside my bounds aka I offended egos. Was e-mailed by someone that he is a professional and shouldn’t receive an email like that. My response, “As professionals, I have the expectation that everyone will do their job correctly. It isn’t fair for someone to be paid when missteps are preventing the business from being paid.” And of course I assuaged ruffled feathers by stating my intention wasn’t to offend, but that people are abusing the privilege to use certain accounts. Anyway, this sort of thing was brought up in the evaluation. That I should go through more of a bureaucratic process. My argument was that process is in no way efficient or guarantees a suitable results i.e. resolving the situation as quickly as possible. And that’s precisely how I dissect a problem. What information do I need to gather to properly understand what went wrong, what is needed to fix this? Who do I need to absolutely involve to get this done? Will their help assist in rectifying this problem or impede it? Is it quicker to do it myself? And so on. Because of this, I have clean schedules, my accounts are in good standing, and I’ve managed to fix aged problems that had been over a year old. And now I’m being told it’s not my job to fix them, that management should handle those that aren’t following the process and enforce the rules, and I honestly yelled, “Bullshit.” This started quite a dispute, yelling, crying, fighting about what he was saying versus what has actually occurred. How conceptually that was fine but in execution always fails and the burden is on me to fix it. I’m told we can’t change people; so, I should stop trying to. And I’m wondering if that’s the case, why bother asking me to change? So, in the end, an actually great evaluation took a horrid turn. When I felt we had reached a stopping point, I just walked out.
They told me life isn’t fair. That they never thought they’d be in this business all these years. That they had other intentions and dreams. I just looked at them, and I said, “Twenty years from now, I don’t want to be saying the things you are now.” And I could see the cold shiver that went down the spines.
So, my problem is I care too much. And I decided I’ll make the effort to comply to the bureaucratic process. I’ll go through the “chain of command” and will do nothing to personally resolve a situation even if I can fix it in a matter of minutes. My job is to find the problems, gather info, and make people “aware” so that they can fix it. And if stuff ages, fine, let it sit on that schedule for as long as needed. And I’ll just say, I followed your process, which works so much better than the one I was using.
Anyway, since my disenchantment has reached new levels I didn’t think possible, my new tactic is to just do my job (or to the point I can now without stepping outside my bounds) and pushing out everything around me. I’ve managed to do this quite well with the help of my Ipod, which I hadn’t used since purchasing it over a month ago. I just crank it up, and do my work. I don’t pick up the phone unless I feel it’s necessary, I don’t chat with anyone unless they won’t leave from behind my shoulder, and I basically just ignore everything around me. Make notes of people’s mistakes and make the necessary copies and e-mails backing up my finds. However this isn’t helping my jadedness or cynicism for the work place.
But I’m noticing I have an inclination towards certain tracks, and I’ll replay them over and over and over.
Johnny Cash’s “Hurt”
The Weepies “No one knows me at all,” “Living in Twilight,” and “Slow Pony Home”
Mozart’s Requiem in D Minor
Alkaline Trio “This Could be Love”
Udit Narayan “Dhadak Dhadak”
Billy Bragg & Wilco “Over Yonder in the Minor Key”
I’m not sure what this eclectic collage of music says about my mindset. A mixture of folk, Indian, alternative, and classical. But in the several days I’ve tried this, it has helped me maintain a lower stress level at work. However, this hasn’t eased the concern of what my need for silence (silence from people around me) and isolation really means, or to what grave extent I’m being effected by my work environment that these two things have even become an insatiable need to just do my job.