Thursday, March 15, 2007

Woe Is Me

Friends, I am at a place again in my life where I am starting to feel the need for a major change. Things are not going the way I want them to be going; and to the extent that I can change things, I want to. I have moved around a lot in my adult life. I have lived in six different cities in the last 17 years (the time when I left for college). For some reason, I am getting this strange urge to move again. However, this "urge" or whatever, has not given me any ideas as to where I should go or what I will do once I get there.

Things are not exactly horrible here. My job is okay -- nothing special. I don't really feel that I am able to utilize most of my talents (whatever those are), and too much of the job is just mundane, easy tasks. Sometimes I feel like the guy in Office Space. You know, when he confessed to the consultants that he only does about 15 minutes of "real work" in an average day. I do much more than that, but mentally, I feel like I am only being fully utilized for a fraction of the time I am there. What makes the problem worse is that I work for a family member, my mother. My position was created specifically for me a few years ago. It started as an almost blank slate, and has now developed into something that I think could easily be handed off to someone else. I can't really move up in the company because there is no hierarchy. There is the boss, and then there is everyone else (about six people). The entire business is centered around said boss. That is the nature of this business -- it is real estate. I don't want to move into sales. I know there can be huge money in it, but I just don't have the right personality for that type of thing. Essentially, if the boss retires, the job is over. I don't like that arrangement when I start thinking about what to do over the next few years. I want something more.

Would a new job halt my urge to leave town? I don't know. I moved back to Omaha because I thought that my familial connections might lead to some interesting job prospects. It really hasn't. The two largest corporations in the city -- ConAgra and Gallup -- both passed on me when I first moved back. It was funny, I spoke to the recruiter from ConAgra for about 1 1/2 hours. We talked about all sorts of things like music and whatnot. The guy asked me at the end of the conversation, "You don't really want to work here, do you?" I could not have sounded very sincere when I said yes. With Gallup, I failed a computer personality test. I tried to out-think the test, and answer the questions as "neutrally" as possible. Later, one of my good friends who works there told me that the trick to "passing" the test is to have extreme answers -- neutral fails. So if you were rating something on a scale from -5 to +5, you should not pick 0 or -1, you should do +5 or -5. It's stupid, right? That's why I don't fit into the corporate world.

In the 1990s I worked in the music business. I was an entrepreneur. I owned and operated a small record label. When that ended, I was kinda jaded about music and didn't really want to continue working in the business. I went back to school and did my last semester (I had dropped out with less than 20 credits to go) of college to get (finally) my degree. Yeah. Now this piece of paper guarantees me the American Dream, right? Hardly. I bring this up because when I was last looking for a job a few years ago, my entrepreneurial experience was said to be a negative. I was told by a family friend who works as a corporate headhunter that companies don't want to hire former entrepreneurs because it is believed they will leave as soon as the next business opportunity comes up. My business ended seven years ago, I have not spent any time looking for the next one to start up. It is quite difficult to relay that kind of message in a resume.

My brother is a partner in an entertainment company here in Omaha. I have worked for him on a very limited basis in the past. I will likely do that again in the future. But there is not any type of real job there. It's just helping out now and then. Due to the nature of the business, however, I am -- in a way -- unable to work in the remainder of the entertainment industry here (to the extent that it exists in Omaha) because it could be seen as competing against him. I don't want to do that. Hell, some places would probably think I was some sort of mole or spy or something and not want me around anyway. Who knows. Either way, it's a shitty situation -- can't work with him or against him. But I get in free to every concert I want to see. That's something.

My only current connection to the industry is my radio show. I would hate to let that go if I moved. But now that I have done a show for 2 1/2 years, maybe I could get a show somewhere else instead. That could be enough of a connection so that no matter where I end up working, I still feel somewhat "with it." So does this mean that I am giving up on working in music or media forever? That is a tough call to make. I tried making that call in 2001 when I moved to Florida in an effort to "start over" or something. I spent much of my three years in the area working a mindless, cubicle-style corporate job. I lucked out getting it. It was sort of a fluke. I'll tell that story later. Anyway, I got promoted there, was making great dough. But not only did I hate the job, I hated almost all of my co-workers. Hate is a strong word. I didn't hate them. They were just nothing, boring people. They had no taste in anything: music, tv, restaurants, beer. You name it, they liked only the worst of it. Most of them were Republicans but could not really explain why. The place was intolerable except for a handful of people -- most them coincidentally were the smokers. I met most of them outside in the smoking area, even though I don't smoke. But I digress...

I realized then and there that a "straight job" was not really for me. Too bad it took me until age 33 to figure that out. But now it is three years later. I'm 36. It seems different than the last times I just packed up and moved. For the first time I am starting to wonder if I have been making the right decisions over the years. I had a lot of promise when I was young! Why am I wondering what to do with the rest of my life at age 36? What does "starting over" mean at my age? Is it even possible? I wish I had something to work toward. You know, like a goal or a dream or whatever. I don't. I really don't have any idea what I want to do anymore. Maybe I have been wrong about all of my past decisions. And here I am with no one to make my decisions for me. This sucks. I need a plan. A goal. A dream. Something to shoot for. Being older, I guess, has given me the wherewithal to know that some sort of plan is needed before just jumping into another major life change. I'm so wise now.

I picked the wrong week to stop sniffing glue...


J. Marquis said...

Well, don't be too hard on yourself. I work at Qwest and almost everybody I've met over the past 25 years ended up there by accident or at least because they could never figure out what they really wanted to do.

I would recommend finding something that offers a pension or at least a 401K. Time really flies...

TransformerGeek said...

At least you're not in the "Looks like I picked the wrong week to quit amphetamines" stage. I'm flirting with moving as well. I toyed getting a condo, but the aspect of being here another two years scared the hell out of me, even though I know there are a ton of worse places you could be.

As a person who got out of a crap job into a relatively good job, I can almost guarantee that a better job won't supply you with enough incentive to stay. It will be a good patch, but unless you land a flat-out perfect job with great, mellow employees that you would hang out with outside of work in a heartbeat, you're going to start looking for a change of venue in a few short months.

If it's any comfort, I know so many people in Omaha who are in your situation - and I know about five who have since moved. Only one has moved back. Also - I asked this one guy in his 50s at the Dundee Cork and Bottle about my late start in the journalism world. He said he switched careers three times and he didn't get his start in the publishing world until his early 40s.

And if that doesn't work, I keep thinking that the dearly departed Mark Sandman of Morphine fame was driving a taxi at the age of 36.