Sunday, February 21, 2016

Hugging The Cactus

I now know what it is to relive junior high school in an adult workplace.

At least in radio I've had some allies, and you can't rewrite the Arbitrons. 

But WOW it's amazing in the work world when you are over 50.  The most common jab is a little jab...and there are lots of them.  Condescensions, insults, mocks, up-and-down stares...the jabs run the full gamut of Mean Girl artillery.

They're called microaggressions, and they add up.  A jab now and again is one thing, but a battery of them will bring your mood down, even when you've done yoga for a half hour and meditation for another half hour and gotten enough sleep and are in a decent mood when you get to work.

They are unavoidable.  The people who are younger than you are and know more than you do have the golden opportunity to look down upon an "authority figure" and to even the score for every parental wrong, every slight by a teacher, every need unmet by an administrator or judge or case worker, and to relish the jabs.  And we, who are by definition more mature, must grin and bear it or be cast as "unfit" for the culture.

Humans aren't always mean, but competition drives most humans to mean, predatory moments.  I've already seen the winners from my class start spitting down from the top; they can't muster the grace to raise up their team mates, because the craving to be better-than is just too powerful.

Another aspect of being an older worker is invisibility, and I mean as a sentient BEING.  Younger superiors want to spill every hideously boring detail of themselves to you regularly, but don't hold your breath for them to ask about you in any way.  You are there to serve, is the subtext.  You are there to serve younger egos-it's somehow considered your function to meet their psychological needs, in addition to performing your duties.  And if you happen to do that well, there will be a line for your advice.  If you don't do well, the jabs and jokes fly freely.

Why the fuck should I stay silent on this?  Because I need the job?  I'm applying officially and unofficially for more radio jobs now.  I wanted a new skill, and I still do, but why subject yourself to psychological BRUTALITY?  Well, mainly because it is pretty brutal out there.  It's not easy to find a work culture of productivity NOT based on competition-so it's going to get mean and nasty at some point.

Still, I've got less than 10 years before social security kicks in, unless the robber barons in the Federal Reserve skim it all off the top by then.  So why dive into a shark tank?  Which also begs the question, is the whole fucking world a shark tank now?

No, of course not.  No one is here to take big bites out of you.  Just little jabs.  And you have to be magnanimous about it.

You have to hug the cactus.

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