When I first started the job, everything was new and challenging. The company seemed progressive and the supervisors and co-workers the height of cool. It was all quite exciting and I loved every minute of it.
As time passed, I started to get a handle on the rhythm o the system. I was drawn into the social circle and loved being a part of things. Some of the people who had first made it all seem so great had left, and I was starting to eye up the possibility of moving up into a new and more challenging/rewarding position. Still, I was mostly content and glad to be a part of everything that was going on.
Then came the layoff. Even though there had been layoffs all summer, it was sudden. It was two days after the September 11th attacks. The talk had indicated that it would be another guy, the younger guy, the newer guy....the guy who was sweet as could be but something of a screw-off. Instead it was me. Sure, I had been there longerer than two other people in the department. Sure, I was the hardest worker in the group. Sure, I was the only one in the entire departent who hadn't used my vacation time (having courteously worked to cover other people's vacations before I took my own). I was the one to get the axe, and I was devestated.
I looked for work, but half-heartedly. I kept hoping to be called back from the layoff, and to take my rightfull place in the company. And six months later, I was.
I was so happy. Everything was right again. Or was it?
Several more members of the company had since moved on, including my beloved manager. Her replacement was a nice guy who just didn't have what it took to manage a department. He worked himself to death, while letting everyone else run right over him. Then the sweet but lazy kid left to go back to school and was replaced by...the son of the company owners. He had the laziness of the other kid, but without the sweetness. He came and went whenever he felt like it, coming in hours late and immediately taking long lunches. He speciallized in shirking work, but the department head was too intimidated to do anything more than issue vague, unenforced warnings about his behavior. Other poor policy decisions were made, and morale fell among the department old-timers.
I found myself stuck in a rut, unable to move to the department I really wanted to work in, and turned down, in favor of an outsider, for another position that had become available. The time had come to move on, yet I had become comfortable in the rut. I found myself loyal to the idea of the company that I had first started to work for. I liked my benefits, and what remained of the social circle (though it had disintegrated quite a bit). I dragged my feet and hung on, hoping that an improvement would come.
Finally, the bolt from the blue. I could no longer ignore how unpleasant my job had become. It was time to go. Nothing new was lined up for me, no plush new job to take its place. But the moment I walked out that door for the last time, I felt an enormous weight lifting from my shoulders. Thing would be ok again, somehow.
And so I find myself back in the world of substitute teaching while I job hunt. Not my favorite work, by far, but I feel free. The work may be exhausting, but it feels worthwhile. My afternoons are freed to send off resumes or schedule interviews, or just to enjoy the sunshine, which I rarely saw at my old job.
I may have gone out of the frying pan and into the fire with this, but I know that if you stay in the frying pan, you'll only end up getting eaten. There's a kind of freedom to be found in the fire.