you say today is … Saturday?/goodbye, I’m going out to play*

Today is my first Saturday at work since I started my “new” job (more than six months ago).

I came in today not really because I NEED needed to, but because there’s a project I’m hoping to finish before Thanksgiving. I felt it would be nicer for the author if he had the extra long weekend to work on his edits if he wanted to; he works full time and I was trying to be considerate.

My colleagues were horrified when I mentioned I might come in this weekend. It’s an interesting culture switch. At my last job, I was in the office for at least one full day almost every weekend, and often I would run into other colleagues there. None of us were proud of or happy with the arrangement; there was just no way to get our jobs done in the 40 hours (ha!) of a traditional work week. I also frequently stayed until 8 on regular weekday nights, or until 10 or 11 on Friday nights (Friday night, it turned out, was the quietest time to get work done). I was of the state of mind that sometimes I’d be out having lunch with friends on a Saturday or Sunday and then, at a loose end afterward, I’d think, what the heck, might as well pop in for a couple hours. It was the default.

My lifestyle has changed really drastically since then. I now work at a press where the 40-hour work week is a religious creed, where my boss regularly asks after employee’s individual welfare, and where I’ve never heard any raised voices (erm, except that time we got in a staff brawl over whether or not David Foster Wallace was pretentious for using words no one can be expected to recognize without a dictionary–that one actually got pretty violent). Also, the staff drinks a lot less per capita. I think that’s because we all have less need for self-medication.

Working in an arts industry doesn’t have to be ugly. I wonder why so many companies cultivate stressful, catty, or miserable atmospheres. I wonder if it’s because the people who run them grew up in other stressful, catty, or miserable environments, and were slowly ruined by their own poisoned bosses? Or is it some kind of snob factor–“you only deserve to work in publishing if you can survive X, Y, *and* Z”?

Anyway. I enjoy editing, and am happy to be spending my Saturday doing this. Afterwards, F and I will go and have some chow at some nice hole-in-the-wall not to far from our house. We are torn between Ecuadorian or Moroccan. Opinions are welcome.

*from “Sick,” by Shel Silverstein

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8 Responses to you say today is … Saturday?/goodbye, I’m going out to play*

  1. JES says:

    God, it is so good to see you’re at a place like this. (I mean a mental place as well as a geographic/career/current-employer place.) Your company sounds like a place to stay really sane (or to become sane, if you’ve already crossed the line :)).

    I have no insider credentials to justify this opinion, but media/arts companies seem to be moving in the same direction as political office: in a position — once you get there — to do so much good… just requiring that you make too much noise in order to get there in the first place, and then to stay there afterwards. I read a quote from Voltaire recently (today’s his birthday): “To succeed in the world it is not enough to be stupid, you must also be well-mannered.” And I thought to myself, about that “well-mannered” qualification: How quaint.

    It’s very hard not to become cynical and overly competitive/ambitious almost anywhere nowadays, especially in The City That Never Sleeps and the media/arts industry. So again, good for you for finding the place you’re at.

    No opinions at all on Ecuadorian vs. Moroccan, sorry. But in your present state of mind, I’d just recommend whichever one will be less of a hassle to get to and most relaxing once you get there!

  2. Ahh, Voltaire’s birthday, eh? That explains the strange frequency of Voltaire citations I’ve seen today…

    Yes, this is a very nice place. I hope lots of other people work at jobs like this.

    And we ended up going Turkish!

  3. Simon Hay says:

    It astounds me that there’s any tension at all in work environments. The productivity goes up if everyone is happy. I’m glad you’re enjoying work now.

    I’d have chosen Moroccan, but I’d be happy just to have a variety of good restaurants to choose from. Turkish! Sounds yummy.

  4. zoe says:

    You ask why it has to be that way. On my way out of publishing to escape that mindset, my opinion about my situation is that my boss knew I was grateful to have the opportunity to do what I love for a living, and he took full advantage. His numbers looked better because he laid off two people and quite literally had me do the work of three for two years.

    • Yes, fiscal metrics are one thing. But humanity is rather another. Wouldn’t it be nice to have … both?!

      Zoe, where did you come from? (She asks kindly) I don’t recognize your name! (If you’d like to share, please feel invited.)

      • zoe says:

        I was a follower of your previous blog and I’m a Facebook friend. You know me (very slightly) by my real name, but since I was talking smack about my employer, I thought I’d go by a nickname that isn’t as broadly used, just in the name of paranoia.

  5. Froog says:

    It is disturbing how certain negative work cultures become self-perpetuating.

    I have many doctor friends in England, most of whom have now reached the status of ‘consultant’ – the highest echelon. When they were young doctors in training, working 100-hour weeks in their hospital ‘house jobs’, they all swore blind that they’d do something to alleviate that kind of murderous workload one day. Now that they’re in a position to do something about it, almost all of them say, “Well, if I had to go through that, why shouldn’t today’s young whipper-snappers?” Depressing!

    • Oh gosh, the whole medical industry makes me feel awful. I think we must be deterring some of the best and brightest just by the insane expense of it (doesn’t the state think it’s in their interest to have good doctors? you think someone would do something to limit the costs of tuition). But then when they survive all the schooling, the interning… They recently passed a law in the States to reduce the legal number of hours an intern could work. I forget what they lowered it to–72, maybe?–but it’s still insane.

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