Getting the hell out of hell

Twelve months ago I got a direct message on twitter that said, more or less, send me an email RE the job we discussed. I think it’s the only message I’ve ever received on twitter that made me cry with relief, ’cause it meant there was a chance of getting the hell out of my old job.

It wasn’t just that my old day-job was bad – I’d worked bad jobs before. My old day-job actually went past bad and delved into the level of seriously toxic. There were only six people in the office and they were all at war with one another, and the manager had never really figured out why they’d hired me. When I signed my employment agreement there was a big empty space under my job description, and they never actually got around to filling all that empty space in.

Occasionally I’d answer phones, or make deliveries to clients. Those were good days. On the bad days I’d update my blog and hang out in twitter, trying to ignore the cold war being fought between management and the sales team.

I’ve never wanted to leave a day-job so badly as I wanted to leave this one. It was the first paying job I’d found after two years of unemployment – something that should have been a relief – but somehow it just seemed even worse. I lived life like a clenched fist, perpetually angry. I wanted to break things and get broken in return. Chuck Palahniuk novels made serious fucking sense to me.

It still seems totally bizarre that I went from all that to…well, the job I have now.

‘Cause the job I have now, it’s like winning the fucking lottery. Last Friday I was having a bad morning: Thursday night had seen a handful of small emergencies that robbed me sleep; I slept through my alarm and rushed to work late; people on public transport were grating on my nerves. The part of me that’s still carrying around all the anger I built up between 2008 and 2011 started coming to the surface, all raw nerve endings and grinding teeth.

Then I made it the office and things got better. I talked to co-workers who are smart and interesting and, to my constant surprise, people I’m happy to call friends. I did my job, planned future projects, answered email. By lunch-time I couldn’t be angry any more. I just didn’t have it in me.

Twelve months ago I answered the message I’d gotten on twitter and engaged short exchange of emails that resulted in a job offer. I remember being twitchy about saying yes – it was casual work, an eighteen-month contract, and despite the hell of my old day-job I was really afraid of being unemployed again after the contract ended. In the end I trusted my gut, and my gut was screaming get the fuck out with everything it had to give.

I’m amazed, given how often I was blogging back then, that none of this played out here. The first reference I can find to the whole thing was a short post about tenterhooks, and I didn’t mention it again until I was ready to give notice at my old job a few weeks later. That resulted in me posting this:

I put in my notice at the dreaded dayjob today. In eight days time, I shall be free. Free I tell you!

I mean, sure, there’s a new dayjob coming, but I’m fairly sure I wont actually dread this one.

I remember thinking, at the time, that not-dreading a dayjob was basically as good as it got. I’ve never been so happy to be proven wrong.

I still don’t really know how I landed my current job – near as I can tell, it came out of a discussion about ebook pricing at a convention – but I’m pretty sure that I’m one of the luckiest bastards alive to be working where I’m working and doing what I’m doing. I just wanted to take a moment to remember that.

  3 comments for “Getting the hell out of hell

  1. 28/05/2012 at 8:40 PM

    Isn't it nice when you realize you really like your life?

  2. 28/05/2012 at 8:45 PM

    I'm still at the point where I have trouble telling the distance between "nice" and "seriously spooky", but yeah, I'm slowly getting used to it.

  3. 28/05/2012 at 10:50 PM

    My experience was not unlike yours – job that wasn't unlike the eighth circle of hell and then a blessed phone call: 'we have a volunteering opportunity that we think would really interest you'. That was three and a half years ago – and now I have a corner office with park views 😛

    And despite the daily mini-rages, there's always something that hoses them down quick-smart.

    It is some kind of awesome

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