Dear New Job,

Three days into this job and my desk is already cluttered.  I already hear people saying, “I don’t know, ask Olivia.”

And you allow me to wear jeans.

For this and so many more reasons, I’m grateful to be here with you.

It’s nice to feel needed and useful.  And it’s nice to know that I can make an impact on a company that’s doing something good for this world.  It’s awesome to actually be paid a decent wage for the hard work I put in.

And you are filled with employees who are all nice and truly love what they do.  Which makes me joyful to head to work in the morning.

I hope that, finally, I have found a place I can stick with for a long time.  A place where I can cultivate a work family and find myself as I work.

Thanks for this opportunity.

— Olivia

Dear Person on the Other Train,

It’s still an amazing moment for me when, on the monotonous grind of the daily commute, I find a new friend.

Well, maybe friend is not the proper word.

Kindred spirit.

Yes, that’ll do.

Yes, dear sir, you are definitely a kindred spirit.  While everyone was staring down at screens and forcing candy into a row, you stood in your train and I stood in my own, both of us impervious to technology’s pull as our trains passed and we were offered a glimpse into the parallel world we live – you on the 1 and I on the 2; barely a breath away.  And in that moment, you saw me starring at you.

And I waved.

And you waved.

Then the moment was over.

But it was a nice moment.  A moment when I met you, my kindred spirit, and you seemed just as thrilled as I was to see someone looking back at me through that window during a brief reprise of NYC Underground Darkness.

I hope you got to where you were going safely and with as few delays the 1 can try to offer during a commute.

*waves*

Olivia

PS I am fully aware that you could have just been bored out of your mind because in all actuality your phone died.  But this is my world and, in my world, you were searching for one of those brief interludes in your subway commute just like me.

Dear Work Day,

You should only be part of my day.

A typical weekday should have the following aspects:

  • A morning part: Where I wake up, lie in bed until the last second, brush my teeth, make breakfast.  It’s a hurried part of my day but only because I make it that way so I’m ready to jump into you.
  • You (Part I): Where I sit at a desk for 3.5 hours.  Starring at a screen, getting coffee, making copies, starring at a screen, getting more coffee, opening Excel, starring at a screen, sneaking Trivia Crack on my phone.
  • Lunch: An hour of pure bliss in which I either go to the gym, read a book, or watch an episode of Chopped on my phone.  Essentially it’s an hour in the middle of you where I can do whatever I so choose.
  • You (Part II): Where I repeat Part I but with less coffee so that I can fall asleep.
  • An evening part: Where I get on a crowded train, head up to the Bronx, make a beautiful dinner, pet the cat, watch TV, write blog posts and watch more TV.  The Evening Part is the best part because I get to do the sleeping part in this part.

See? It’s kind of nice how this day is laid out.  You are a major part of it.  You make up an entire 7 hours of my day (that’s 35 hours a week) or 30% of my day if you are a math-minded non-human.  I don’t know why but I assume that you are probably a math-minded non-human.

But the problem began when you started taking up more than double of my day.  That means you were cutting  into the lunch part, the evening part, and most of the morning part.  A lunch hour, I can give that up to make sure a project gets done in time, sure, that’s just good work ethic.  Staying a little late or coming in a little early with the goal of completing a task on time seems worth it.  But it’s all three and I’m staying later and later day after day with little change, then I know that You, Work Day, are taking up too much of my time.

It’s not me it’s you.

Which is why I’m putting my foot down.  You are now only 7 hours of my day and nothing more.  9:30 to 5:30.  I’ve missed the Morning and Evening parts too much.  I’m behind on my Chopped episodes.  I’m slower on the treadmill.

So, you stick to your 7 hours and let me live the rest of the 17 hours the way I see fit.

No more crazy hours from you.

Sincerely,

Olivia

Dear Cubicles,

As a young, influential, middle-schooler, I first watched Office Space at the recommendation of one of my sisters.

Great movie.

But what I remember the most about that first viewing is a single thought. A thought that creeped up into every subsequent time I sat down to watch Office Space: 

I never want to work at a job where I sit in a cubicle all day.”

…no offense.

I mean, it’s not that you are a bad being. You create work space for the masses. You create order. You create, wait for it, office space (boom, went there).

But a part of me always knew that working in a place that employed your use meant that a part of my soul was dead. My middle school logic told me that you + me = a picture of my cat in a frame and a solitary life of ramen. If I worked in a place where I had to sit at your faux-wood finish then I’d have lost a major part of my (non-cat framing) self. If anything, I think it’s safe to say that I was afraid of you.

Now I work at a place that also employs your use.

And it’s not as scary as I thought it would be.

Sure, I sometimes sit with you and take a look around at all the other carbon copies of you with non-carbon copies of myself sitting busily and have a minor panic attack because how did I end up here?

But then I look again and see that you are not necessarily a symbol of conformity but a blank canvas for the creative to shine. Pictures of people (not cats), potted plants, weird knickknacks: they are what show the person sitting at you.  So, all I have to fear while sitting at you is not becoming a weird cat-lady but, rather, going on to Facebook too many times during the workday.

I’m not going to become less of myself because I now sit with you.

Thanks for the work space,

Olivia