Wednesday, October 27, 2010

What Day is it Again? Wednesday? Sunday? And What Month is It?

Adjusting to Life After Day Job has been a little strange. I don't at all miss the commute (which sucked up about two hours each day in total driving time) but it is odd to suddenly have no set schedule. If I'd won many millions of American dollars in Powerball, that'd be one thing, but I'm still on the clock as far as all my freelancing work basically boiling down to getting paid by the hour/word/however you want to slice it.

It's not so much that it's hard for me to turn off the Xbox and get to work, but moreso the opposite, as far as shutting off the part of my brain that keeps nudging me to get this or that done. When the freelancing was all extra work on top of the day job, it was easier, as I'd bang away at it for a few hours after work, then power down the work side of my brain and play some Angry Birds, watch TV, etc. But at the moment it's surprisingly difficult to shut off that small anxious part of me that resents having to "waste" time by going grocery shopping or yard work or whatever, as at any point in time I could, in theory, be making money.

As far as more specifics of Life During Day Job, that's weird too, as I expected to triumphantly post that I'd left and spend much time reveling in how terrible the place was, how happy I was to be free of the shackles, yada yada yada. Except I don't really feel that way. If anything I almost feel somehow disappointed, as far as letting the Evil Day Job win in some fashion.

I originally started working at Hoover's Inc. in 2000, which at the time was a smallish company that had recently gone public, so they had some cash but I started at pretty much the same time as when the dot com implosion really started revving up, so I missed the truly fun times. It still was a cool place to work, with kegs of beer on Fridays, a casual work environment, and a place that actually hired real writers and editors and, you know, did things and valued the work of people who wrote stuff and tried out new things as far as content, since content was the main thing that paid the bills for the company.

Things got a little less cool when we got mercenary about being profitable, but it was still a pretty decent place to work. Plus we actually started making money around 2002-2003, so we had a pretty good thing going. And then Dun & Bradstreet (D&B) bought us.

It'd be fun to bash D&B and, sweet Jebus, there's plenty to bash, but at a certain point there's just no point in it. Imagine a company with a monopoly on a fairly profitable business niche that produces billions in revenue each and every year, and a tidy net profit in the hundreds of millions. A business that, no matter how badly it is mismanaged, will still be profitable. And one that's just discovering e-mail and the Internet and is absolutely in love with words like "leveraging" and "winning" and "platforming".

Our little company fought the good fight for awhile but eventually the Borg assimilated us, and we went from a company that rolled out new products on a weekly/monthly basis to one that it would literally take years for even the simplest of ideas to get approved and implemented. Which meant that all the smart people left to go work somewhere where things actually happened, so the workplace became quickly populated with the walking dead, who were just killing time until they got promoted or retired.

But not really a unique story, as plenty of people have been through similar situations. And in the end it was my own damn fault for doing the Zombie Shuffle for so long myself, shrugging off .5-1% raises every year and the fact that my job had devolved into data entry and mashing a few different buttons in a slightly different order each day.

I guess it's that last bit that leaves me less than thrilled about what I'd imagined in the past would be a orgy of D&B bashing. It's fun to gripe about jobs at times but not so much when millions of people are unemployed, and especially not so much when you have options to do something else, even if it's a bit risky and uncertain. I really can't blame anyone other than myself for the years of zombitude I put in there, when the writing was plainly on the wall, so it's hard to revel too much when there's more regret there than anything for all that wasted time.

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