Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Work Therapy

     Ample studies suggest that going back to work as soon as possible after certain illnesses and injuries speeds recovery—opposite conventional wisdom that total bed rest cures fastest. About five years ago, after a serious illness, while I was still underweight and feeling weak and insecure about my health, I got asked again and again by my doctor, “When are you going back to work?”—I guess because he knew of the curative powers of work.

     This past year, work has sometimes been a downer—largely because of my health issues and extra low office morale due to passed-down stress from above and temporary office moves into storage warehouse-type settings that kept getting extended, missed deadlines, more problems with infrastructure, an insecure boss, etc. I prayed, “Please restore my joy for work,” because I've nearly always enjoyed my job, the same that I've held with the state these past 26 years.
     My friend Norm, a burnt-out civil engineer now starting afresh as a nurse after draining his 401K for nursing school, finds his new job stressful and demanding, but rewarding—yet still views it as “just a job.” His son David, fresh out of college and working his first job tells Norm how he hates his work, to which Norm replies, “That's why it's called work. If it was something you enjoyed, you'd have to pay them to do it.” Norm disagrees with me that perhaps David just hasn't yet found his passion. He thinks passion has nothing to do with it as a job is still a job.
     Perhaps I've been fortunate. Or perhaps my home life is sufficiently pedestrian that I often look forward to work after weekends. I've found myself “losing myself” in my work, so immersed in the intricate job details do I get, trying to puzzle out the big picture while yet being very meticulous and precise with every word, number, phrase, tone, and impression, since I do a fair amount of report composition—of a very creative nature—while sticking to the facts, and offering opinions, suggestions, and recommendations to improve the organization in a management consultant-type capacity. I find it fun, worthwhile, and very challenging.
     Except this past year when there was a drought of this fun work and only occasional piddling rote work with low meaning (i.e. chances to improve the organization). We even landed a sucker job that we went through the motions to prepare for and complete. Then, something happened. A novel approach came to mind. We got the approvals to proceed without problem and went for it. Work became fun again.
     But a dead end resulted by following that lead. Nothing of what we'd expected surfaced. So back we went to same ol' same ol.'
     But then a different way of looking at the same dead end info. came to mind, and sure enough, major implications surfaced requiring follow-up, further reviews and analyses, discussions, and so forth—fun, fun, fun! Writing up the report and backing it up with iron clad facts was even funner and more exciting (well, in a challenging, must-think-very-deeply-and-clearly sort of way).
     So my job has always suited my personality. People who see what we do sometimes say, “I don't know how you can stare at those numbers all day. I'd go crazy!” to which I nod, smile, or laugh, knowing I'd never be able to do what they do all day long—dealing with the public, going to endless unproductive meetings, giving lectures, or whatever.

     Oh yeah, my health has been steadily improving especially since I've started enjoying my job again—another answered prayer. Praise God for all his blessings big and small!

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Braden's continued Growth Pains

     Has your child ever told you F.U.? Mine has. I'm not proud of it. It wasn't to my face, but shouted outside our rental unit so that the whole neighborhood could here. I chuckled, bemused.
     Deanne wondered at my reaction.
     I said, “What am I supposed to do? Slug him in the face? This is the way he vents. He doesn't have friends to discuss things with so this is how he releases the pressure when he can't take it anymore—he acts up or blows up at us. It's normal for a kid his age. Beats doing drugs or getting someone pregnant.”
     I'd sent him outside to walk up and down the street because he'd already lost it when I berated him for his socks on the floor that had been there for three days and then again for not picking them up after I told him to. True, I lost it myself first thing he got home from school and I scolded him about his sloppy room for the thousandth time, but his belligerent sassy talk—“Why are you in such a bad mood today?”—was rude, disrespectful, and uncalled for, thus, I wanted him out of the house for an extended blow-off-steam time out.
     But I didn't let his shouting Fuck you to me stand as if nothing had happened because then he'd do it again and again. So as he walked by the house on his loop around, I stopped him and said, “I'm this close to pulling you from your job” (work pressures were a big part of his blow out—he's excited and terrified about his growing independence), my thumb and forefinger held an inch apart. “When you get back, you tell me how you're going to rectify what just happened. Work is nothing. Nothing! It's a privilege, not a right. Everything starts at home. You know that.”
     He got home an hour-and-a-half later and snuck into his room. I, already in bed by my usual early bedtime, called him and asked, “Well?”
     “Sorry Dad,” he said and sounded sincere enough.
     “That's it? What did I ask you to do?”
     “I don't know what you expect me to say! He snapped, aggressive and snappy.
     “Alright, no job. I'll call your boss and let him know tomorrow. You can work as much as you want after you leave home—for the rest of your life. It's too much for you now with school. Maybe by next year things will change and we'll let you reapply. Go to bed.”
     He muttered under his breath, slammed things about, and settled down awhile later.
     Deanne and I hashed it out whether it was the best thing to do or not. I said let's pray about it and discuss it tomorrow because I'm too tired.
     By morning, I had a possible word from God. Braden had messed up his application form by miswriting his social security number. (Duh!) I'd checked and signed his initial permission form, which was fine, but while rewriting the info. on his official application, he wrote a “3” instead of a “2.” When Human Resources filed his withholding info. with Social Security, etc., his application got kicked back by Homeland Security, so he had to go in person to the employer's head office to get it fixed within nine days. I thought he should fix his mess up regardless of whether he'd continue to work or not, else, where'd be the lesson? Also, God possibly planted in me the notion of mercy. Braden doesn't deserve another chance. But neither do I for all the sins I've committed and recommitted against God. If I'm merciful with Braden, perhaps God will be merciful with me? (Does that make me selfish? I also like Braden out of the house being productive on weekends. We're also thinking there might possibly be a future career connected with this employer since Braden loves cooking and is fairly good at it...)
    So I told Braden, “Though you don't deserve it, I feel God might be calling me to be merciful. Do you still want your job?”
     “Yes,” he said.
     “Then go get your stuff fixed tomorrow and if you show a change of heart—no more blow outs—there's a chance we'll let you work—no promises—on a day-to-day basis. Any more blow-outs, and you're out.”
     “Yes, Dad.”
     Anything else?”
     Thank you for letting me keep my job.”
     “By the way,” I told him a little later, “since you didn't come up with anything like I asked, you get to do all chores until further notice.”