The Oblivious Boss, Boredom, and Making the Most of It

In my twelve months of working here, August 09 has been the month with the least amount of misery and boredom. I was fairly productive, continued building on professional relationships here, and actually worked at least 20 or 25 hours every week. That means I only had 15 or 20 hours during each week that I blogged, emailed friends, etc. I consider it a real success and would even consider staying here if I could be this busy in the future. I don’t work too hard, I work with nice people, I have insurance and an acceptable paycheck, and the job is a good resume builder. I really can’t complain.

That said, here is my most recent complaint, which is really just a recycled old complaint. Friday, I was pulled into a meeting with some visitors and one of our project people. It turned out that I was being asked to do some work with this group in terms of marketing and possibly managing a website for their project. Hurrah! Something new to do! (Once again, my oblivious boss did not know this, nor does he know yet—another co-worker asked me to join.) I like the group and I like their goal—putting on a successful conference next year—and it’s something I “get” and am interested in.

Unfortunately, at the end of the meeting, we all exchanged business cards and of course I don’t have any business cards because my boss thinks I’m a nobody, so I had to write my name & contact info on my co-worker’s card, and then give it to the leader. I can’t decide if the appropriate word for how I felt was humbled, embarrassed, frustrated, or humiliated. I’m supposed to feel like a contributing member of this organization, and here are these virtual strangers putting their trust in me to help publicize an upcoming conference—yet I don’t even have business cards because my boss has just never seen the need to order me any. Oh, the silliness.

In my first few months here, I politely asked him several times to order me some cards. (One of those times, we had just met with a client who had asked me for my card—and my boss witnessed my outright lie to cover for him—“gosh, I’m just so new here that I haven’t even gotten my business cards yet”.) Each time I asked, he demurred. We are a small nonprofit, so I thought he was concerned about his budget. After a year of my being here, I now realize that he’s just oblivious. We have budget money and everyone is supposed to have business cards. I’m in COMMUNICATIONS so it’s not like I’m some behind-the-scenes person who doesn’t interact with the public. It’s absurd.  

My biggest problem with this is, I can’t seem to not care. There’s nothing nefarious in his neglect of me, but his indifference is also not helpful to my self-esteem or, if nothing else, to my ability to do my job in a professional manner.

I haven’t asked in about 6 months because I made up my mind to leave this organization as soon as I can find something else. But everytime it comes up, I consider asking my boss again if he thinks I’m worthy of a $30 box of business cards yet. But I don’t know what else I could do besides ask, and I’ve asked several times and he always said no. So why should I ask again? Do I really need to make a fuss over something like this? It was hard enough getting an ergonomically acceptable workspace (a new chair and a keyboard drawer–less than $300 so that I would not generate lifelong medical claims–and I had to guilt him into it). I had to make a fuss because I was in pain. Now, I’m not in pain, I’m just frustrated. It’s not fun being a nobody.

In a way, this is good. I’m grateful that I’m able to see that this job is not in my long-term future—not necessarily because of the organization, but because there’s no room for advancement or recognition or professional development here for me. It’s a motivator to hunt for another job and also, frankly, not to take this one too seriously. And I probably needed a little shove toward the door anyway. I’m pretty comfortable here when there’s very little expected of me. It’s a sad state of affairs, but at least I am realistic. I feel grateful for what this job lacks. If I keep saying that to myself, maybe I’ll even believe it!

Until then, I’ll deal with the boredom and try to make the best of it. Pardon me while I indulge in a yawn. yawn cat

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