I have had a lot of jobs. I started working full-time during the summer when I was 14 in the very odd family business of transistor fabrication. I also spent a few summers in the highly esteemed position of hospital kitchen lackey. When I was 19, I had the good judgement to prioritize partying above scholastic endeavors, and consequently dropped out of college. I have been working full-time ever since. Except for a year during my hippie phase when I stuck it to The Man by being an unwashed leaching bum. Take that, The Man!
I have had jobs that felt like indentured servitude. Jobs the weigh you down and crush your spirit, all the while screwing you with low pay and crappy benefits. Conversely, I have had jobs that shower you with gold bullion for doing hardly more than showing up for work. Ok, maybe not gold bullion, but you get the idea. I even spent a few years running my own software development company. And by “running” I mean running it into the ground so deeply in debt that it would never resurface. My shortest employment was with a telemarketing company for a total of 4 hours. I decided not to return after lunch on the first day because my reading of the sales shtick made an elderly woman on the phone cry.
I consider myself lucky to have worked in software development for the last 15 years. Liking what you do is a huge bonus, but I think it’s possible to be completely content with your job even if it’s not your hobby. 20 years ago when I ran the holy hell out of a box-making-machine to scrape a few extra bucks of performance bonus, I really did not give a crap about boxes per se, but I enjoyed the challenge of being the best box-making-machine operator I could be. I also enjoyed the challenge of leaving with the same amount of limbs I arrived with due to the overwhelming level of OSHA violations. The satisfaction of a job done right can be its own reward. But a few safety guards are nice too.
We all have different priorities for what is important in a job. Pay, hours, benefits, flexibility, not having to evade a noxious cloud created by a combination of the cleaning fluid in your mop bucket with a vapor leak from an atmospherically controlled wafer oven at a transistor factory. Surely I’m not the only one that has happened to? For me there is a simple metric that goes a long way to pushing a job from the “why must I endure this monotony of pointless existence” category to the “it’s not that bad” bucket. Bathroom cleanliness. Just kidding, it’s the people you work with (but who doesn’t like a clean bathroom?).
For me, the best job in the world is the one with the best people. I have a low tolerance for assholery. I don’t do drama. Unchecked egos make me wretch. Even disaffection gets my panties in a bunch. Maybe this is one of the reasons I like working from home – the additional layer insulating me from a potential personality conflict. Maybe it’s just my aversion to pants. And haircuts. And showering. I’m not suggesting work should be some sickly sweet love-fest, but working along-side motivated and friendly co-workers makes whatever you are doing inherently more enjoyable. Unless of course your arm gets ripped off by a box-making-machine.