January 22, 2008

Subtle Joys of Self Employment

I started looking for opportunities in self-employment almost twenty years ago, roughly two days after starting at my first job. I am a free spirit with an over-active imagination, so finding something that didn’t become boring was always my greatest challenge. No MLM or sales position was left unturned. I invested countless hours into envelope stuffing as a teenager producing only one reply, sold beauty products door-to-door and found out that what I really sold was about 200 catalogs to myself. I originated Mortgages, contracted as an Office Manager and was as a Unit Manager for a popular plastics line. Perhaps what I was craving all along was simply freedom.


Most people that run their own business will undoubtedly tell anyone who listens, that freedom is the key reason to be self-employed. They will boast that being your own boss is the greatest feeling and that setting your own hours makes everything worthwhile. In my estimation that is all just a bunch of hooey and I would like to share the reasons why I personally would never go back to corporate America now that I have had the taste of life on the other side.

Pee on the community toilet seat. I once worked in a building which was also home to two clinics: an eye center and a cardiologist. My office was on the same floor as the eye clinic, whose patients were primarily over 75. The fact of nature is that as a person gets older their bodily functions do not cooperate as well as when they were young. Throw blinding eye drops into the mix and ironically the picture becomes clear. One day our Department was told that our office would be moving. I thought for sure it would now be safe to sit since the elderly ladies with eye drops would be no more and the only users of the bathroom would be fellow office mates. Not more than a week after our arrival to the new space is when I realized that a person doesn’t have to be older and blind to pee on the seat but they actually have to be human to clean it up.

Boredom. In the world of ties and pantyhose most people will do anything just to hang onto their job. With rising mortgage rates and falling house prices, not to mention so many layoffs, there is a panic that sets in among worker bees that if they are not constantly busy they too will be downsized. I would like to point out that no matter how hard a person tries to hide it, there is no way to disguise the glassy eyes that could have only occurred from playing three straight hours of spider solitaire after taking a two hour lunch paid for by the company. Add to that sneaking out of the office a half hour early and it is basically the makings of a typical day at my last company. I try to recall even one detail of something I did at that job to garner such a huge salary but all I come up with is a 4.0 GPA in school and a journal where I jotted down quips about how I must have been working what the Sopranos refer to as a “no show” job, even though I was there. There were many days I felt like Peter Gibbons.


Talking for the sake of hearing one’s own voice. Idle chatter about nothing in elevators and inane questions with no logical answer are two great examples of this. One good one I always got was “How are we doing today?” Did I miss something? Was I sharing my desk with someone else? How can one person be a “we”? Was my co-worker referring to me and the inner dialogue that is constantly running in my head? That response would go a little something like “Look I’m having a really busy day today you see my eBay auction is coming down to the wire, I have so much schoolwork to do and I’m just so bogged down with all the smoke breaks I plan to take later so I don’t feel as if I can fit your ridiculous questions into my already jam packed schedule.” Although that one is good, my all time favorite office question was “How was your weekend?” I knew no one would ever want to hear my true response which goes a little something like “It was fantastic because I didn’t have to see you people and I got to spend all the money I made here last week which is pretty much the only reason I am back today.” It was a good thing I always brought a journal to work so I could write down what was in my head otherwise I would have taken up roof archery years ago.

14 comments:

High Desert Diva said...

Oh...I am so glad you are back.
A whole week without Jennism was too much.

Bridgete said...

It's so true.

Also, along with the bathrooms - apparently you also have to be human to note that when you clog the toilet and there's a plunger RIGHT THERE, you use it. If there's no plunger, TELL SOMEONE!

Chucka Stone Designs said...

Jennism - I like that heehee

EEW! In an office or community bathroom that is so wrong there are no words to describe how wrong it is lol!

Victoria said...

Lol- very true!!!
I always hated all the gossip and “who’s doing who” that went on in my previous jobs

Although, somehow even in my self-employment I found pee on the toilet seat....but all is better now because she’s potty trained :)

Andrea said...

I would LOVE to be self employed! But I'm being held captive by the marketing mafia. ;)

Chris Stone said...

Any good grafitti with the pee?

Anonymous said...

My God . . . you just described my day at work today.
Only, the people who mess up the bathroom are just messy, not nearsighted or elderly.

Ginger said...

"so you see bob, it's not that i'm lazy, it's that i just don't care."

ACMstudios said...

Oh my... I love this post!! It describes me perfectly! You'd also think that people would be a little more careful about leaving nasties on the seat when they can easily be pinpointed as the culprit! I don't get it.

Dharma Designs said...

I LOVE your humor ("Pee on the community toilet seat"). LOL

Cicada Studio said...

Amen, Sister.

I'm bleary eyed and working hard at doing not so much at a desk in the City when I'd rather be toiling away frantically, but freely, at home or a nice little studio.

Soon, I hope, soon.

Good read.

Helen | Pepperina Press said...

Amen to all that. I'm never going back.

Although sometimes "sharing" a studio with a two-year-old (she invites herself and her stickers and her dancing) does prompt some "why am I doing this again?" moments. But they pass...

artjewl said...

Unlike Victoria, potty training hasn't ended the pee on the toilet seat at the home-office -- my little man is easily distracted. Someday...

What a great post, Jenn! It's interesting for me, because I work 3 days in the office for "The Man" and 2 days doing freelance work at home. As underpaid as I feel I am at "work work", for me there's something invaluable in having work and home separate. I focus SO much more easily at the office; I have serious self-discipline issues at home. Of course, perhaps part of that is that I'm not excited about my freelance work. And the environment is too... lived in, which doesn't help put me in my work mode.

Some day, though, I'll have a studio space that's totally separate, maybe a loft above the garage, whatever. Somewhere at home that's not where all the "extra junk" gets dropped and that is still a little bit out of the way. That might work.

HollywoodFix said...

Ah, mom, you're silly. But gosh, you have my work day down raight. lol. This is why you're my mommy.

:]