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a story, denied

i was writing this to send to my boss when i got the news that he quit. can't leave it in my outlook drafts folder forever, so i'll post it here instead.

when i was in high school, i was a proud staffer on our weekly newspaper. i learned about meeting deadlines, investigating leads, taking responsibility for one's own words. when what you write goes under your byline, you can't really hide.

every thursday night we went to press. every friday afternoon we held a post-mortem for the newly published issue. we gave feedback and talked about things that worked and things that didn't. at one of my first post-mortems--a nervous sophomore--i pointed out a typo, thinking that my adviser would be proud that a mere baby was showing a keen eye.

she looked at me and asked sharply, "where were you on thursday night?" if i had really cared about the paper and its staff, she said, i would have shown up the night before and helped proofread. maybe i could have used that keen eye to catch that typo before the paper was delivered to the printers.

in my own way, i've always tried to live by these rules: never show up on the fringes of something the day after and complain if you had every opportunity to get in the middle and HELP. don't pass judgment on the people doing the best they can. you only deserve a voice if you're involved, but make sure your involvement is justified. don't be the problem. don't add to the problem.

it wasn't until this past year that these loosely linked statements crystalized "where were you on thursday night?" into my mantra. i'd chant it to myself under my breath after conference calls and frustrating meetings. i had them tattooed on my wrist as a reminder.

there are plenty of like-minded people at work. or rather, maybe there used to be, and that's why i find myself almost constantly swinging on the pendulum between despair and rage. there is so much pressure and so little help. people nosing their way into things that they can't or won't grasp. blame being passed around more freely than praise. respect, a thing of the past. but i sucked it up and pushed it down because i cared.

i was, figuratively speaking, always here on thursday nights. but those thursday nights soon non-figuratively bled into friday nights and monday nights and saturday at dawn and sunday after breakfast and then every night when the kids went to bed. yet the more i did, the worse the pressure (and the behavior around the firm) became.

so i coped by working later, sleeping less, drinking more, and crying at every opportunity.

this is how the firm treats the people who care. THIS has become our firm culture. i don't believe there is a turning back, and this is why i am choosing to leave.

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