Friday, May 28, 2010

In my previous life

A kind, Oregonian reader asked me yesterday when I planned to divulge what I used to do for a living. Before she asked, I hadn't planned on ever getting into it, because I hadn't even realized that I'd never discussed it here in depth.

It's not like I worked for the CIA or something -- I think I just took for granted that many people who read this already know what I did, and it wasn't a very exciting job anyway, so why bother?

But I think I will take the opportunity today to explain what it is I did and why I couldn't have tolerated even another month of it without absolutely losing my shit.

I was a property manager for a corporate real estate company.

Glamorous, no?

I got into that line of business through my mother, who'd worked her way up through the ranks at the same company years ago (she no longer works there). I did temp work for the company in my early 20s, before I left to become a reporter, and when I'd finally had enough of that after a few years, the company was only too happy to take me back. 

I managed four business parks, some housing major companies you've definitely heard of. I spent my days completing financial reports and making sure my buildings were being maintained properly.

I hated almost all of my vendors and almost all of my tenants. I hated many of the people I worked with and for. I hated my job tasks.

I worked in an open office with cubicles that you could see over when you were sitting down. There were about 50 women in my office and two or three men. The jobs pay well and the women wear designer everything. They get plastic surgery and have their nails done and have personal trainers and give each other Tiffany bracelets on their birthdays.

The reason so many women work in this field is twofold. Firstly, it involves major multitasking, and to date, I have never met a man who was good at multitasking.

Secondly, most men are not willing to take the kind of abuse this job involves. Women, unfortunately, are often raised differently. We're often people pleasers, and this is the kind of job a people pleaser will stay in until she realizes she can never make anyone there happy enough.

The kind of abuse I'm talking about is the kind that rolled around about a month before I quit. It had happened to me many times before in various different circumstances.

The most memorable was the time I had a tenant call me, enraged because an animal had died in her air duct and the carcass was attracting flies. There was nothing I could do fast enough to please her. I had 20 people in her building eradicating the problem, but she was still literally screaming at me on the phone.

The incident that occurred a month before I quit involved a similarly enraged tenant and a leaking roof. I will not get into the boring details except to say that 1) I never received the support I needed from my boss (this was an enormous part of the problem for years, actually, and I could go on about it for hours, but you'd be more bored than you already are) and 2) I told that tenant to shove it where the sun don't shine.

It was shortly after that that I came home exhausted, frustrated, angry, despondent, miserable, sobbing. My husband told me to quit, for the umpteenth time, and this time I finally listened.

Now, I would be remiss if I didn't mention there are people at that company to whom I am extraordinarily grateful. Good, kind people who helped me get promoted and supported me. And honestly, the company had some amazing perks, if you could just get past some of the office politics and the fact that the job was terrible. I mean, I had racked up a month of vacation; was making a very nice salary and bonus; the company did 401k matching; they had half-day Fridays in summer; jeans on Fridays. It could have been a lot worse. 

But sweet baby Jesus, am I glad I don't work there any more. Just thinking about that job makes me a little twitchy.

So here's to Friday! Here's to following our hearts and scraping soul-suckers out of our lives. Here's to not making money but being happy as a damn clam, and here's to taking a shower at noon.

1 comment:

  1. I love your line, "Here's to not making money but being happy as a clam." If I drank at this point in my life, I would toast to that! (nursing a baby)