Friday, March 9, 2012

Die at My Desk

It’s the American Way: work and sacrifice so many hours until you eventually die at your desk, with the gold appreciation pen you got instead of a raise still in your cold, dead hand.

How many of us, on our death bed, will wish we had finished that last report or spent a few additional hours at the office? I am willing to venture a guess and say none. We will probably lament about the lost opportunities to spend more time with our partners, children, or family; but, I doubt we will be devastated we never took on the responsibility of an extra committee assignment.

I just get back from TPE, I am exhausted, and I am owed a few hours of comp time. Instead of coming in today at 8:30, I relaxed, got my life together, and arrived at the office around 10:30am. My boss and the rest of the crew knew I was out, they knew I had planned to be a few hours late, and they know I am not a slacker who takes advantage of flex time. However, upon entering the office, I could feel the anger, judgment, and hatred radiating off everyone who had already arrived for the day

The office manager ignored my “good morning” and the others just looked at me as if I had committed a felony. Since when did taking a few hours off constitute a crime? Since when did I have to inform my boss exactly where I am at all times? Since when was I 14 years old? I was hired as a professional; I was told I was allowed some flexibility with my hours; and I am not about to work myself into a stress coma. Returning from lunch, the mood continued to be tense and icy--it stayed that way all day. I’m sure Monday, will be joyful. What a bunch of bulls**t!

Two years ago, I made a vow that I would no longer work so hard that I was a bundle of anxiety or that my personal life would suffer. I have not been told outright that what I am doing is not allowed. In fact, I have been given the green light on several occasions. Why are Americans obsessed with killing themselves for their work? One of my co-workers does nothing but sit in her office checking Facebook, yet everyone fawns over her as “a dedicated employee”. Why? Because she pretends she’s working just enough to make her appear busy. I’d rather be efficient, get my work done early, and be judged, rather than be a labor faker.

I’m sorry, but there is no life-award for having no life and dying of a heart attack in the middle of a staff meeting. Death by deadline does not give you bragging rights; rather it gives you angina, high blood pressure, and the greater chance of keeling over before your time. Enjoy life—do your job well, but NEVER put it before your happiness. No matter how many late nights and early mornings you put in, your gravestone will never say “devoted employee”. 


  1. As a grad student, I've been learning a lot about this balance.
    When I started my GA position, I thought I had to be always on time and be at my desk until a certain time. This semester I've really learned a lot about coming in when I need to (I commute an hour to my GA position) and leaving when I'm done. The flexibility is part of what I love about this field.

  2. Sadly, so many abuse the flex option that those of us who wish to use it correctly are judged negatively for using it when it is needed.

  3. It strikes me as odd that, as a live-in HD, you would ever be expected to be at work by 8:30. I have my live-in staff work in the office from 10 - 5, with an hour for lunch, knowing that on many evenings, they will be attending hall programs or just interacting with residents in the lobby. I think those of us that live off campus and have the luxury of more predictable schedules should be in the office by 8:30, but not HDs. I don't think i am particularly generous. It sounds like your supervisors have outdated expectations. Unless they pay very well, they won't have much luck hiring HDs in the future.