Tuesday, October 29, 2013

I am irrationally irritated by people who proclaim the name of the designers they wear. Seriously irritated.

I have been known to unfriend and unfollow friends who have - on multiple occasions - crossposted Instagram photos of their new Rolexes (or Tory Burch handbags or Zac Posen sheets or...) on Facebook and Twitter, with the caption, "Look at my Rolex. My Rolex is so awesome!" or "I just couldn't decide if I wanted the 14,000 thread count sheets for $1,000 or the 10,000 thread count set for $750."

I've spent a little bit of time trying to understand this reaction. Because on the face of it, it is a little cuckoo bananas.

And I've realized that it isn't. Cuckoo bananas that is.

I find this behavior irritating because the insistence that I notice the expensive brand comes off as either braggadocio or as an expression of a subconscious lack of confidence. And I have patience for neither.

Bragging is smarmy and generally intended - consciously or not - to make other people feel small.  If you captioned your photo with even a modicum of humility instead - "Wow! I feel so lucky to have saved enough money to be able to buy my dream watch! #luckyme #hardworkpaysoff" - I'd be okay with it. And repeated bragging about repeated designer items you paid a lot of money for - regardless of how easy it is for you to do this - is simply a demonstration that your core values are out of sync with some of my core values (e.g. modesty, humility, utilitarianism).

If your bragging is actually a manifestation of a subconscious lack of confidence? Maybe you were poor growing up and you still don't trust that that you will fit in with the casual, Rolex-wearing types? Or you are ashamed of your hippie parents and need to insist over and over again that you are a Republican lawyer who buys Republication things and IS NOT A HIPPIE dammit. I'm sorry for your pain. Seriously. And I wish you'd gain some awareness of how you are foisting your personal crap on the rest of us. I'd be amused by a post that demonstrated some awareness by reading something like "My hippie parents would go into anaphalactic shock if they knew how much I paid for this Rolex. But, I'm not them. #allgrownup." And repeated posts that demonstrate what I might interpret as a lack of confidence? I want to recommend a therapist to help you deal with your baggage, not read about it day after day after day.

What IS cuckoo bananas if throwing out the baby with the bath water and choosing to unfollow/unfriend wholesale. No individual is defined by a single behavior. And the bragging - whatever the motivation - is one behavior of a complex being that I interpret as being aggravating to the max.

But, I'm not quite willing to change my behavior quite yet. Guess I have some more examining to do. In the meantime, I'll keep MY feelings to myself.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

A Household Quiz

You are restocking the medicine cabinet in your bathroom and have two empty boxes that need to be thrown away. 

Oh no! You realize the bathroom waste can is full. 

Do you:
A. Empty the waste can, put in a new liner and throw away the boxes? 
B. Find another trash receptacle in the house to toss the boxes in?
C. Realize these are paperboard and you can simply fold them up and put them with the other paper recycling?
D. Set the trash can on fire? (It IS getting colder outside and you'd rather not pay for heat if you can burn things.)
E. Do this and hope your wife doesn't notice when she gets home?

I'm pretty sure I'm going to blink first on this one. 

Monday, October 21, 2013

Five things I still don't miss about my non-profit job

My heart belongs to the non-profit sector.

I have graduate degrees in Social Work and Public Health, and I think of myself as a community organizer at my core.

But, after 20 years working in the non-profit and municipal sectors in Massachusetts, I decided to call it quits this spring and move into the corporate world.

There is a lot I miss about the non-profit work environment. Things like the feeling that "we're all in this together," the unflagging, personal commitment to mission, the flexible work environment which often compensated for pay that undervalued employees' skill sets.

But, six months after I made the jump, that I don't miss about a non-profit workplace, particularly my last office. These include:
  • Having to step over homeless people to get into the office 
  • Inadequate basic desk and office equipment (e.g. voice mail and a phone at my desk)
  • Lack of administrative/operational systems (e.g. system for sorting and distributing mail)
  • Decision-making based on relationships before the interest of the business, and its dirty cousin, excusing mediocrity and poor performance to avoid hurting someone's feelings
  • Executive whining when one's sense of mission did not override one's desire to be with family, manage illness, have work/life balance, etc. 
Don't get me wrong. The corporate sector is far from perfect. But, at the end of the day, there is no question about motive or purpose. Whether manufacturing widgets or operating in the service economy, business exists to do the best job it can at the lowest possible price in order to make money. I like what I do and I respect the company for which I work. But I'm under no illusion that I'm saving the world. And this makes it a whole lot easier to take a sick day, walk somewhere to grab lunch, or to leave after eight hours at my desk. 

I look back on my last position now with incredulity. How did I - how did anyone on the team - survive in these conditions? It is nearly impossible to get work done efficiently - a necessity when every dollar you spend is a dollar you need to raise - when there was no consensus on who should check voicemail and distribute phone messages, let alone no professional telephone system.  

I love working with a sense of mission. But, at the end of the day, work is work. So, until I find the perfect non-profit or government sector job, I'll stay where I am, marketing widgets and checking my voicemail.