Midnight Pub

Exhaustion

~oracle

It's been a rough week. I was asked to come into our office basically to assess the damage after a week of my manager being absent. She's been trying to manage from home after a COVID exposure, and it's been clear that she needs a pair of eyes and hands in that office to avoid catastrophe. That's why I'm the team lead under her. My boss and I both spot the trouble areas in similar ways, often drawing the same conclusions even if I don't necessarily know how to fix the problem. It's not the mistakes I mind so much as the gross oversights, the giant piles of documents and pleadings left to fester. Even so, at a certain point it's just funny. I can feel my co-workers, especially those who have been in the office all this time, prickling at my laughter and I just don't have it in me to care. It's hilarious that I am the youngest by ten years, the least experienced by fifteen years, the newest member of our team by about six months. Still, I'm the only person who thinks to check what's being left on the desks of people who've been working from home for a full month. I'm the person who gets called to bail out the most experienced team members. Meanwhile, my anxiety about being physically in the office has never been worse. It's not just the COVID risk, though of course I've seen several people not wearing their masks correctly. It's also the difficulty of having to put that public persona on again. It's trying to be the upbeat, easy going, knowledgeable leader while staring down a giant pile of someone else's fuck ups. Every day I've left feeling heavy, muscle groups relaxing slowly as I drive home. I've had to phone a friend almost every day to make sure I don't fall asleep. I've forgotten how exhausting it is to manage other peoples' feelings. I've spent so much time alone at home with the one person I never needed to explain myself to. Now that's been yanked away and replaced with co-workers determined to misunderstand even my kindnesses. And I'm just tired. God I am so tired. Hopefully the weekend helps.


starbreaker

I've been here, and the weekend never helps. It just isn't long enough for that. When we're working in an office 9-5, five days a week, for months or years on end we don't notice the weight of other people's emotions we carry. But if you've been working from home for months and have to go back to an office and back to dealing with other people you end up shouldering that burden again and it's more than anybody should have to bear. You don't get paid enough for this. Nobody gets paid enough for this.

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oracle

I know logically that lots of people don't mature past high school. They regard themselves as the main character in their own story with no understanding that they're generally at best an extra in everyone else's. I get that self-awareness is a rare and precious commodity. But after months of being home with someone else in possession of that commodity it is hard to communicate with people who need so much emotional hand holding when wrong. I've always been driven toward being a helpful and decent employee but this past week being helpful has meant picking up the slack for a team full of main characters. Being a self-aware NPC is exhausting.

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starbreaker
Being a self-aware NPC is exhausting.

It's tough knowing you're the lead of your own story but often an extra at best in others' if not an outright villain. My own preference has always been to focus on my own life and let others worry about theirs, to spare no more thought for others than they spare for me—but such benign indifference might not suit you, or seem as benign to you as it does to me.

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oracle

I can't say I worry much about what they think of me or anything quite like that. If anything it's sort of a relief to know that any imagined scrutiny is likely brief or straight out just anxiety speaking. But I do find it's useful to bear in mind that people regard themselves as a main character when communicating and trying to understand why they might have made the decisions they did. People don't generally do bad things out of malice in work settings. I often find they thought they were making a rational decision for themselves and their workload without considering what their actions do to the workload of others. I also try to keep in mind that doing double duty for anyone isn't a way to curry favor. Most people believe it's owed to them due to some special circumstance only they would deem qualifying as the very special main character of this story. But of course, sometimes, as with this week, it's for my own good in order to keep the ball rolling without any giant issues. It just also makes me so frustrated that all I can do is laugh at the shit storm before me, rising from a sewer of 14 year olds in grown adult bodies.

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starbreaker
It just also makes me so frustrated that all I can do is laugh at the shit storm before me, rising from a sewer of 14 year olds in grown adult bodies.

Is it really worth your while to do anything but discreetly laugh at these people? It's not like you get paid enough for this bullshit, remember?

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oracle

Oh my friend. It was not discreet. I was cackling like a lunatic when I finally figured out what exactly was in those stacks after hours of cleaning up stacks in other areas.

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starbreaker

Unless they heard you, it was discreet enough. :)

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oracle

Oh, they definitely did. I know this because mid manic, high pitched cackle one of them said something to the effect of not knowing the process to sort mail. Which was, to her credit, only about 1/4 of the total problem.

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