Friday, November 7, 2014

Indispensable at Work Isn't All it's Cracked up to Be.

It did turn out to be food poisoning yesterday, so I am better today, but the idea of food is still not too attractive.  But now you know, if you live nearby or hugged me recently, you won't be coming down with a stomach bug-- at least not because of me.

I had to leave work early because-- well really, because I shouldn't have gone to work in the first place-- I was sick and dizzy and utterly misguided about why it was important to go and stand behind the post office counter even though I was barely able to stand at all.  

I had promised to be there.  I was on the schedule.  People were counting on me... Yada yada yada.  

Somehow though, when I left, the postal world didn't stop spinning.  They managed without me. 

In real life, I don't think I'm indispensable, but in work situations, I somehow build up an idea that I HAD TO BE THERE.  But no.  Especially sick, where I really just caused more difficulty for everyone, including one poor customer who will bear the psychological scars of seeing me sink to the floor, ready to yiff, just as she launched into an explanation of her cell phone problem and why she had to send it back.  

Everyone wants to feel needed, I think.  Appreciated, at least, for contributions valuable to a team effort.  In our work lives, this often becomes the highest compliment-- "We couldn't do this without you." And since our economic stability is tied to our continued usefulness on the job, comments like these give us a little security. Worthiness and security are pretty important to most of us, but in a way, these values are constantly used to get more and more out of employees.  This happens especially often in a job market where employers feel more than comfortable letting employees know that there is someone waiting to take their job if they can't manage to meet expectations. Can anyone remember when we had a job market that wasn't like this? Yeah, me neither. 

But really... unless you are the world's leading brain surgeon, or the person in your region  who is most adept at defusing hostage situations, you are probably not indispensable at work.  Does everyone else's day go more smoothly when you show up?  Well, yeah, of course. Do you add a certain something and excel at your job?  That's awesome, but think about the pressure this adds to your work life.  I know, for sure, that someone else could do my job.  I just trained someone, and someone trained me.  Do I do my job well? fast? courteously?  Yes, but that doesn't mean someone else can't do it.  I work for a low wage, doing simple tasks. I like the location and the hours, and the fact that sometimes, like now, I can work on my own things while I'm here.  Sometimes I'm rushed and stressed and extremely busy-- Tax Day, Holiday Season, I'm thinking of you-- but let's face it, if I couldn't work here any more, someone else could do my job.

And I'm glad, really. I'd rather be an indispensable wife, or mom, or daughter.  These are tasks I don't always excel at, either, so it's good to remember that this is where I should be putting my effort, this is where I should be worried about being replaceable.  

I was down for the count by the time Mike and the girls came home last night-- 5 pm was as far as I could get yesterday.  Even though daddy was on duty and the evening went smoothly without me, the girls seemed pretty relieved that I was up this morning, doing my usual school day/work day prep.  It's too bad I had to feel so awful yesterday to be reminded about real indispensability today.  

Clever cartoon from here.  Wish I was as clever.  

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