“Nothing is really work unless you would rather be doing something else.” —J.M. Barrie
I hate my job. I have been unhappy since the second day. I have wanted to do more, to be more from the very beginning. I am sore, degraded, frustrated, bored and annoyed by the end of each day. I wake up and dread getting out of bed because I hate what’s coming. Days off are ruined because I know what comes next. This is a huge reason why I am in need of a life change, why I write, why I named this what I did. My job makes me hate the general public and want to move to Antarctica and avoid people. And I had a good day at work on Friday–perhaps my first one ever.
Very small things added up to one of the best days I’ve had at this job, by far the happiest. I have had days where I have been productive, days that weren’t miserable, but I can’t actually think of another day where I left happy, not because the day was done, but because the day was happy. Nothing was particularly noteworthy, but the little things made the day, little things that caught my attention in a big way.
I got a free cup! This job takes everything out of me. My energy, my patience, my drive, my hope. It gives so little back: no satisfaction, no challenges, no growth, not nearly enough pay. And I got a free cup! Apparently my manager had a stash of cups that he was supposed to give out to all of the employees for a year or so. He kept them in his office, I would like to think out of laziness or indifference, not malice. I would like to think that he just didn’t think that we would enjoy a tiny little perk, not that he intentionally kept a little trinket from all of us. It is a nice cup, one that I have considered buying. It saves me ten dollars! I expect very, very little from my employer, and this was the most generous they have ever been. Who doesn’t love getting something for free?
I got a compliment! It is incredibly, unbelievably rare that anyone compliments anything. Customers complain. Managers complain. Coworkers are petty. I try to do good work and every once in a while someone will speak up to a manager, but my efforts go largely unnoticed, or at least unrecognized. But it wasn’t my hard work that was complimented. It was me! I feel like a failure more often than not these days. I feel pretty darn worthless at the end of a long day on my feet and I, like many, don’t see much that I like when I look in the mirror. But my customer complimented me! Not my accuracy or politeness or attentiveness. She told me I had “the most soothing voice.” She liked how I sound. She liked something that is me, that is unchangeable, undeniably me. It’s not something that I worked at or practiced or could try to improve. It’s just who I am. Who I am was enough, was enjoyable, was worth complimenting.
I witnessed true love! We see newly weds and engaged couples all the time. I see people moving in together, parents shopping for children, children shopping for parents. I see love and affection all around me and it is rarely refreshing. Mostly it is depressing or annoying or frighteningly insincere. With just a few minutes left in my day, a customer came up with his phone to his ear. This annoys me and is an incredibly rude message that I am invisible, unimportant and not worth acknowledging. As he listened to his phone, he asked me, “Do you want to hear something funny?” Sure, why not. He grinned and told me that his fiancée had accidentally called him and didn’t notice. He told me he could hear her driving and singing in the car. He said that she never lets him hear her sing, so he was just “soakin’ it in.” He had been on the phone for more than a half hour just listening to her sing. It was a smile, a gesture, an indulgence of pure, sincere love and adoration. He left with the phone still to his head, a small smile fixed on his face. He was happy. He encouraged me, reminded me that romance is real and love is simple.
I had a good day. It was unexpected, unprecedented, and unimpressive. There is nothing about that day that, to an outsider, would appear spectacular. It was. It was refreshing, like the chill of walking into an ice cream shop on a hot day in the middle of summer. I want a job and a life where this is everyday, the norm, not the exception. This is not nearly enough to make the job worthwhile or pleasant. It is enough, however, to remind me that the little things are important, are everything, and that they beg to savored. Good days really can happen, if I am open to them.
“Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come.” –Anne Lamott