Monday, April 20, 2009

Memory Monday: Monkeys and Responsibilities

Ah, Memory Monday: The day of the week when I reminisce about an old job. This MM is likely to feel like a montage. Feel free to add your own musical score.

For one of my summer jobs, my responsibilities included answering the phone. The phone rang about once a day, so I spent most of my time sitting at my desk, reading "The Lord of the Rings." A monkey could have done it (well, maybe not the reading "The Lord of the Rings" part). I was fifteen or so, so I was that monkey.

On my first day, I remember my boss asking me, "When you answer the phone, you say 'Hello, (company name), this is Pam. How may I transfer your call?' and then you transfer it by hitting this button and then one of three extensions. Do you think you can do that?" I was insulted: Of course I could handle that! I thought, 'I'm getting an A in honors Chemistry; I can so answer the phone!' I didn't understand yet that at fifteen, you really are a monkey, and answering phones and doing data entry's about all any boss can trust you to do.

So I went on with my monkey work, vowing one day to have a real job with real responsibilities.

And then I got that real job and no longer wanted them. Those responsibilities, like getting quotes from vendors and doing statistical analysis on qualitative and quantitative data, were enough to scare the pants off of me. What if I made a mistake? My monkey days were over and mistakes were no longer acceptable. My boss would not say "oh, you're just a monkey; don't worry about it! Here, have a banana." Worse, there would be no endless fountain of second chances.

It was at my second job, when I worked from home, that I finally shed my monkey skin. I ate responsibility like it was cake and begged for additional helpings like one of the corduroy children. They gave me more responsibility until I became fat and sassy with confidence.

Then, at my next job (my most recent job), I went through responsibility withdrawal. My boss asked me questions like, "Are you sure you're ready to take this on?" about things I had done on a daily basis at my previous job. Now, I had every right be insulted because it felt like I had taken a step down from where I was. I felt like I was a monkey again.

And now, being unemployed, I'm not sure what my next job will be like. Will I be a monkey, or will I have responsibilities again? It really could go either way, and I'm finding that it no longer matters which.

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