Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Stop the madness

I sat down at my desk today and immediately went to strap on my seatbelt. This seems disturbing to me. I don’t even own a car anymore and I rarely ride in taxis, so it’s not like I’m in the habit of buckling up each day; this must be a larger indication of the way I feel at the office. There are a lot of things I enjoy about my job, but I guess I also feel that I'm not fully in control in this work environment, such that I may need a seat belt (or occasionally a punching bag.) An article last year on MSNBC.com explored the results of desk rage, the feeling one can get from this type of work insecurity/unhappiness:

Some desk-ragers “go postal,” screaming, cursing, trashing office equipment, even assaulting others. But desk rage also manifests as a slow boil that leads to gossiping at the water cooler, backstabbing, poor productivity, abusing sick days, stealing supplies or becoming irritable or depressed. Some people simply get fed up, stop communicating, put on a headset and emotionally “check out.”

I’m guessing this (most likely the mid to latter part) is familiar to many people. It’s so depressing that this is the result of days spent doing jobs we likely studied to do, jobs we get paid to do, jobs we interviewed and competed for, jobs we really wanted and may still want.

Joshua Ferris’s debut novel, Then We Came to the End, is a fascinating look at corporate existence in a Chicago advertising agency. I loved this book and I highly recommend it, but I had to put it down a few times when it threatened to completely undermine my ability to feel good about life in my—or any—office. So do yourself a favor and read it as the excellent work of fiction that it is, rather than as a motivational tool.

Supposedly there are ways to remedy, or at least ameliorate, the feelings of desk rage: take a 30-minute break every day, get regular exercise, pamper yourself, spend time on activities you love. But when you’re in the middle of a particularly stressful day or week, it’s difficult to find the time and energy to do these things and much easier to fall into the habits of a desk rager. I hereby vow to work harder at quelching the rage. However, if I come into the office in the near future and reach under my desk for a helmet, I’m going to seriously consider finding a new job.


Jonathan said...

I have a theory. I think that you are so used to being spoiled by Rob that you actually thought you were sitting down in an airplane seat on your way to your next luxury destination. When you realized there was no flight attendant coming by with free wine, pretzels, and fluffy slippers, you became distressed and confused.

Not wanting to admit your preoccupation with materialism, you subsequently conjured up an alternate theory that makes you seem more... innocent.

If anyone else needs help understanding the women in your life...my submit your query to my 'Dear Jon' inbox.

Happy Wednesday!

Sarah said...

Yes. Yes, now that you say that, Fitz, I totally see the light. I sat down at my desk, stretched my legs out and looked for the airplane seat belt. Then I looked around for the flight attendant so I could kick him in the shin and demand peanuts and a bloody mary. Upon realizing that I work for a living, I became grossly enraged and drafted a treatise on workplace anger.
Dear Jon, How does the other half live?