why hating work is useful

I was glad to be back to steady work. Steady work is steady money, but that’s not what I’m talking about. I mean the feeling of loathing that washed over me – here I am again, everything looks the same, everyone is the same, even if they’re not.

I know that’s not really clear, not the way I mean it to be, at least. 

There’s a chance to find yourself in work, especially in work that you dislike. There’s a framework imposed upon you, and you’re forced to create yourself inside it. Now of course I’m not advocating that everyone go out and find soul-crushing employment. Nor am I saying that people who are really really happy with their jobs are missing out on something. I guess what I’m saying – what I’m trying to say, rather – is that there’s a certain unpleasantness inherent in life, like chores. Like wiping runny noses or poopy butts, like bleaching the toilet bowl or cleaning out the bits of half-chewed food at the bottom of the sink. There are those things, then there’s getting terrible news – a teacher is quitting! A parent has decided to find his/herself and has abandoned the rest of the family! The latest guinea pig has gone to heaven and the pet store is going to close in ten minutes! The inspectors are here! 

And in those moments, the terrible as well as the mundane, I learn more about myself (and sometimes those around me) that I ever did meditating, as good and head-clearing as that was, or traveling, as amazing and eye-opening as that was.

So I walked in the door, hung up my car keys and old bag on the same hook, put on the same old name tag, and thought I hate working. Isn’t it great?

 

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dear john

“I really want to tell John, though.” I told the director. “He likes my writing. He’d sit there at work” – and here I was beginning to imagine it – “clicking through my blog, reading my writing, looking at the picture of cats . . .”

“Finding out how you gave him mono.”

“Oh no.” I put down the scissors I’d been using to cut little red hearts. “But I – I could tell him? Right? I could tell him.”

“Do you want him to hate you forever?” I shook my head because no, of course not, I do not want him to hate me at all, or to dislike me even, or ever. I don’t even let myself imagine it because – although I assuredly would – I don’t think I could stand it. “Then don’t tell him,” she insisted. “He could never forgive you, even if he said he did.” I doubt it, secretly, but I doubt both options – and I’m not thinking clearly, as has been amply established already.

So I ask you – literally, not metaphorically – do I tell him? Do I not tell him?

a teacher quits

I never thought that an old lady could hurt me – not to this extent, past tears and into something sadder, meatier. I’ve always treated her with dignity and respect, never gotten too close, too personal, too off-handed.

She poured out the rough equivalent to a lifetime of hate on the director, aimed at me. There were no specific grievances – she compared me to a third-world regime, to the military secret police of bloody dictatorships, to acts of injustice perpetrated against entire nations and races. Never to one person in particular. She said, clearly, specifically, “I hate her.”

Today is her last day here. She expressed her hopes that the daycare fails, closes, and that the resulting parents who have no care will seek it at her house. Her anger is a far cry from the near-supplication displayed when she asked for her old position, said this was the best school, the managers, the staff were kind, good people whom she hoped to work for again. In actuality, her motive was to sow dissent among the staff and parents and propel the entire thing into a downward spiral she hoped was irremediable.

“They’re not wild goat kids,” the director told her, referencing the children she was about to leave transition-less, provider-less. “You should think about their feelings, their needs, Cathy.” But she shook her head – her old head, with the thinning dyed hair gelled into submission, with the deep furrows that make her appear ten years older than she actually is – “They’re children, aren’t they? Then let them survive, as children do.”

No matter how bad a breakup is, some small part of me always knows that love, passion and the like tend to disappoint. Likewise the strongest friendships are prey to little maggots of doubt and insecurity and – well, I’m hardly surprised at the rot. Or the infidelity. Or the what-have-you; because some primal part of one is always attuned to the shifts, the changes. Some part always anticipates, always knows what’s coming. And now I find myself speechless with shock. Whenever anyone asks me how I feel I’m reduced to mumbles and shrugs. I don’t think I’ve ever been so hurt. I feel like I’ve broken a rib again, all short of breath and sharply sore. I’m at a loss. All I can think to say is that I don’t know how or why I would trust anyone, on any level, ever again.

She’d known me since I was a little child myself, before I needed bras or braces, before I had broken bones.

Before I had a single scar.