The Days of Not Complaining About My Job Are Over

Once I’ve bottomed out on spoons during a week, I’ll start most days after that in a state of quiet determination. I kind of enjoy this state of being because it is easy to push myself to work on small projects. When I’m that tired and worn out, I don’t waste any time or energy procrastinating or getting in my own way. It can be a great way to have a calm, productive day if I’m left alone. After all, being out of spoons doesn’t mean I can’t still accomplish stuff, it just means that my ability to handle stress is greatly reduce. For instance, heavy bass in music bothers me all the time. If I’m not out of spoons, I can handle it (by spending spoons to ignore it). If I’m out of spoons, I am almost entirely incapable of ignoring it and will get more frustrated the longer it goes on. Worse yet, my ability to calmly and rationally do something about is dimished because that ALSO takes spoons, so I usually wind up needing to endure it longer than I might on a day that I’ve got the spoons to ask whoever is making that noise to lower their volume or even just turn the bass down.

If you read yesterday’s post (which I’m not going to link here because it’s full of content warnings and I don’t want to lead people to that angry rant about the various forms of the gun problem in the US), you might guess that I’m out of spoons today. You’d be correct! Making it even worse was that I was out of spoons yesterday, before I even got the email that eventually ignited yesterday’s rant, so I’m running on a spoon deficit and just trying to do my best with the shit week I’ve been having. Normally, Fridays are fine days to be low on spoons. A lot of my coworkers work from home on Fridays, so the building is usually quieter, darker, and emptier. All things that, on a better day, would make Friday my most productive day of the week. On low-to-no spoon days, this makes it possible for me to get anything done at all.

However, it appears that my days of quiet productive Fridays are coming to an end. Every Friday, starting around noon when people eat their lunches, they’re now going to show videos of some kind. Movies, longer TV shows maybe, official video recordings of theatrical performances, concerts, who knows what else… It’s not an officially communicated policy, of course, just something that started happening and I only know as much as I do because the department I work in is nominally in charge of setting them up every week. What makes this a problem is that my office shares a wall with the place these things will be shown and even my headphones aren’t enough to block the music (much less the bass) of the movie currently playing. I have to stop whatever I’m doing every couple minutes to take a short walk away from the noise before I can get back to work, and this is already with the volume turned down to “a reasonable level” at my request.

Apparently, because management doesn’t like it that so many people work from home and they know they’d lose even more people than the company already has been if they just refused to let people work from home, they’ve decided that they’re going to put something on every Friday afternoon. To tempt people to show up to the office by making it hellish for everyone with an office near the break area that houses the projector and speakers. Because there are offices that open onto that space. I’ve got it better than them, at least, because I have a solid wall between me and it so all I get in abundance is the bass. Which is the worst part for me in particular, sure, but at least it’s just the one thing and not also the full volume of the audio and whatever dumb video is playing. Too bad no one told them that this is probably going to drive more people to work from home if they can and haven’t been for whatever reason. To be entirely fair, this kind of short-sighted thinking is pretty characteristic of the last several months (just like their “Tired of driving across the city for your second job? Get a second job here instead!” initiative) and I’m really not surprised that they’re trying this. I just hope it doesn’t take long for them to realize they’ve messed up because I’m not sure how long I’m going to be able to handle this happening every single Friday.

It is difficult to not read a certain degree of conniving ill-intent into the fact that this wasn’t announced or opened up for suggestion before this started happening. If it was announced, it would invite feedback. If it was an official policy or corporate action, it would open it up to official complaints about disrupting people’s abilty to work. If it just happens, most people are going to do their best to ignore it and hope it stops happening. In this case, it probably will because this isn’t going to bring people back into the office. If you’re working from home and want a movie on in the background, you can probably make that happen AND you get to pick the movie yourself. I can imagine why some people would think this is superior, but none of those people are working from home. They want to be around people, pandemic safety be damned, and having a movie is great because it gives them an excuse to gather with people.

I think it’s good for an employer to do stuff like create ways for its employees to gather and bond, but I think that the instant it stops being an opt-in situation it immediately becomes a problem. Doubly-so if there’s no way to opt-out without going home for the day. Not everyone has a boss willing to let them work from home every Friday while this shit continues. Not everyone has the ability to do their work from home even if their boss would approve it. Some of us are stuck with this, and I just think that it’s bullshit.

I had actually finished this and moved on to do as much work as I could while that movie is still playing, but I’m back to add that the CEO of the company hopped on the intercom to tell anyone “left at the office” to come get a free meal coupon from him. Which is mostly shitty because a lot of people leave early on Fridays for a lot of reasons, and pretty much only a small selection of the R&D folks are here. Almost all of the non-R&D employees (which is most of the company) leave before noon on Friday because of the way the shifts are set up. I would be surprised if less 80% of the company is gone from work by 2pm on a Friday and this announcement was made after that (just a quick reminder that I write these a week ahead of time). And while it might just be the bitter, jaded, overstimulated, angry mixed of emotions I’m feeling today, but I’m not participating in this farce. I don’t even eat the food available here on account of, you know, the pandemic. I’m sure they take decent precations to avoid potential contamination, but so do I and not going to a place that most people in the company go once a day, usually maskless, to get their hands on some food is a one of the main precautions.

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