The Job From Hell

Once upon a time I had what I still refer to as The Job From Hell. I meticulously documented the details of the pervasive insanity I dealt with on a daily basis from my own management and the internal clients we served. As time went on, I observed that the whole organization exhibited aberrations identical to those of dysfunctional families. All of this is recorded in notes, ranting journal entries, and e-mail exposés that I squirreled away, with the thought of eventually writing a memoir of the experience. Within less than a year, I quit.

Over the intervening years I have periodically looked at some of those notes, and thought of the situations I faced. Eventually a strange thing happened as I replayed those memories. They began to shift. I began to toy with them, looking at them with additional insight. I began thinking in “What if” mode. What if I’d taken more time to consider my manager’s whole situation? What if I’d handled this other difficult person a bit differently? What if I’d had more compassion?

As I asked these questions, I began to see more clearly what I’d always known on some level: I was an active participant in these circumstances, not a passive victim. My own decisions and actions produced consequences. That is not said to exonerate the villains, but to acknowledge that I could have handled some things better on my part. I’ve come to see that I was doing the best I knew how at the time, and that (God forbid!) should I ever have occasion to repeat the experience, I’d handle it rather differently. Likewise, those villains were doing the best they knew how. I never did believe that any of them had evil intentions. We were all laboring within a corporate culture that had somehow sold its soul to the devil.

When I originally thought of writing about that experience, I was thinking in terms of self-vindication, of revealing the evil inherent in that corrupt system, and ... seeking revenge. There may still be some purpose to be served by exposing manipulation tactics identical to brainwashing techniques. This corporate culture has certainly not disappeared. But, quite frankly, I don’t have the energy or inclination to tackle that, and vengeful writing has a way of backfiring.

No, if I write about it at all, it will be to convey some of the insight I’ve developed over the years. I can explain that more forthright discussion with my manager probably would have worked out better than the basically passive/aggressive tactics I indulged in (of course I never saw them as such at the time). I may examine the forces coming to bear on managers as each strove to salute and deliver according to mandates from above. I will certainly explore the pervasive culture of fear, and the resulting epidemic of heart dis-ease.

I did write about this at the time, while the story was fresh, the wounds raw and oozing, and my mind cluttered with angry debris, but I never compiled it into documentary form. I’m glad of that. I would not want such a digest of self-righteous condemnation to be my lasting legacy to my heirs. In my opinion, it will be far better to leave a legacy of personal peace, forgiveness and understanding. Far better to leave an example of growth and compassion rather than anger. Such a story can only be written after enough time has passed for the wounds to heal and allow me to view the situation with a clear mind as yet one more of life’s learning experiences — which it most certainly was!

To everything there is a season,
a time for every purpose under the sun.
a time to keep silent and a time to speak;
Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

Likewise, there is a time to write privately and a time to disclose. Fine words, like fine wine, will improve with age.

Write now: about a time of tribulation and testing you have faced, whether at work or elsewhere. If this is still raw and painful, file it away without sharing and revisit it in several years. Do some free writing about the incidents to explore new angles. If you have already developed insight worth sharing, polish it up and send it around.


Herm said...

As a boy I was bullied by another. Of course, he was older, bigger and stronger, even though he was in my same grade. He wasn't a whole job, but certainly a piece of work.
I've written about his bullying and always felt anger. Part of that directed toward myself, believing a bloody nose from a fight to be more honorable than letting fear cause me to cringe in front of him.
I decided to write a short story about each of the families who lived near us. As I gathered my thoughts about his family I began to feel pity for him. Could I not have found a way to build an inroad to a friendlier part of him?
Perhaps I could have, but a twelve year old boy doesn't think (or care)thoughts that mature. I used my wit to avoid him, but the years have given me wise insights that have taken away all the anger and made me comfortable with not getting a bloddy nose.

Leah J.Utas said...

Time and reflection often shows us the reason for our experiences.

It's good to wait and grow before writing about just about anything.

Ritergal said...

Herm, I'm so glad your nose is intact.

Ritergal said...

Leah, I urge people to write immediately, sooner, later, or whenever, but privately first, in a journal or something like that.

Stories of joy, like my Great Pelican Rescue Adventure, are going to leak out early, in print or in telling. This is good. There are far too few stories of joy, and they sustain us all.

The others, the "dark" stories — yes, for sure those can wait!