08 June 2011

A Life off Track

Wednesday 8June11

Things are getting to the boiling point at work lately. I swear on of my co-workers, Monte (fake-name) had decided that his New Year's Resolution was to stir the pot until it exploded or something. From January he came back with an attitude of injustice and he hasn't let it go since. We are June now, it is half way through the year. Shaking my head.

His biggest war has been about overtime hours and how the overtime hours have been allotted. Now I've been working there for 10 years. When I first started there Monte barely did any work. He did the absolute minimal that wouldn't get him fired. He never even considered working overtime. Allan, an optimistic guy, always worked overtime. Sometimes, I thought, to the detriment of his family life. But he has a really cool wife who is super understanding and gets that the more money they can put on their house, the quicker it will be paid off.

Monte has always made fun of Allan. He's called him a brown noser and the like. His enjoyment has always been in trying to crush Allan's happy spirit and optimistic attitude. Then slowly my boss started to light fires under the lazy guys asses and Monte started to change his attitude a bit and did more work. That said, he is the type of guy that over-explains everything and it's clearly his way of wasting time rather than doing actual work. But not everyone is going to be conscientious so you bear with it.

In the last year and a half, out of nowhere Monte has decided that he too wants to work overtime. We all shook our heads in amazement. You want to work overtime at a job that you hate? Interesting way to make money. So he's been working overtime but that hasn't actually been enough for him. Everyday he comes in and checks Allan's timecard to see if Allan has worked overtime and if he has, Monte is in a foul mood for the entire day. Talk about setting yourself up for a miserable life.

And then January rolls around and he comes back to work after nearly 3 weeks vacation and a whole new vendetta. And we've been dealing with this ever since. He has grieved the issue with the union to no avail. The union basically said that as long as management gives everyone a fair shake at it, within the system that they've been using for 30 years(!) there was nothing he could do about it.

I guess what's interesting to me about all this is how far off track we can get in our lives. How we can waste our energies on stupidness that means nothing when we could be channelling it into something better. Realizing goals, making love relationships work, planting a freaking garden. ha-ha! If you are focusing on what you love you don't have the time to start a campaign to make another person's life miserable. Plain and simple. You don't worry about what other people are doing when you have goals to keep you focused.

I'm not an overtime person, I never have been. I get a second job. It's a change of environment and a whole other paycheque that isn't taxed to death making you feel like you worked for an extra $5.

We recently had a Respectful workplace training seminar for the entire company. Of course we all went on different days because the whole company can't stop to take the seminar. In it the Seminar leader talked about negativity in the workplace creating a hostile work environment. She said that we are a culture of complainers. We complain about the drive into work, we complain about the line to get coffee, we complain about the job, we complain about the weather, we complain and complain. She then asked, what about the happy people who don't complain. What about the people who say, that was a great drive in. And oh my kid got all C's on his report card, I'm so proud of him. And that cold air is refreshing it really helps you to wake up and face the day. What do we do to those people?

I spoke up and said, "As a culture, we try to crush them. We want to make them as miserable as we feel so we go out of our way to make fun of them and their optimism and whatever else we can."
Everybody in the room started laughing. I said, "No I'm serious and it isn't funny." And I gave a brush stroke description of Allan (who was in the seminar sitting beside me)and how he comes to work in a good mood and he loves his job and he loves to work overtime and he'll do the dirtiest jobs and how a couple of the guys outwardly try to make his life miserable.

The seminar leader smiled and said, "Shelley's absolutely right and those people are making it a hostile work environment for Allan."

Everybody in the room gasped.

Yes folks, we want to live happy lives and begrudge the people who are actually living happy lives instead of finding out from them what their secret is. It's just a state of mind, how you choose to look at things. The shittiest job can make you happy if you haven't worked in a year and you really, really need the money. When you only have $20 until payday you can all of a sudden get creative and buy some fantastic groceries and really savour the meal you've made and the leftovers that will get you through until payday. There are so many things that we can do when we have no choice in the matter and be really happy about it.

And then we get off track. We have $400 so we buy all this extravagant stuff for groceries and we don't appreciate it like we did those $20 groceries. We've been working at a job for 30 years and forget what's it's like to have to worry about where our next paycheque will come from so out of boredom and malice we make the happy guy's life miserable.

I tell Allan everyday, "don't give into the pressure. Don't lose your inner light. He's not your problem, he's his problem."

And it's true. We're all our own worst enemy and we get off track.


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