Saturday, October 6, 2007

I'm a quitter!

Sure, who hasn't quit a job? But I've quit two jobs within less than a year of each other. This last one only lasted 4 1/2 months. That's called a pattern. The shorter time between hating my job and leaving it has shrunk significantly, which means my quitting skills are improving.

Of course, considering the fact that this job pays about 30% of what my last job paid, with no vacation time or other benefits, some might say it is easier to give up. On the other hand, my last job didn't have random adorable dogs running around the "office" (it's actually just a shit load of computers crammed into the owner's house). On the other other hand, my last job also didn't have random adorable dogs peeing on the furniture. I guess every job has it's pluses and minuses.

When I took this job, I thought it would be different. Somehow, working for chump change seemed synonymous with meaningful job. And I thought the flexible schedule, easy-going atmosphere, and hourly pay, meant that I could spend less time working and more time living. But with such a low pay rate, I can't afford to work fewer hours or do anything fun, and all I do is obsess about money.

As it turns out, there is a reason the job doesn't pay well: the company pours all of its money into projects that have no value. There is no market research, no project management, no product planning, and no forward-thinking technical vision. What takes a "real company" 4 months to build, takes this place over 2 years, and when it's "done", half the features don't work and the other half are stupid.

People in this company generally fall into two basic camps - the believers and the freeloaders.

The believers have tremendous enthusiasm for the noble mission of the company - to create a MySpace-facebook-Rhapsody-
[insert-already-existing-and-wildly-popular-website-here] online network on a Googlesque scale that will save the world and make billions of dollars. The believers also have a very naive view of the company's current place in this space. They believe they are competitive. They believe that their competitors know or care that this company exists. They believe that all they need to do is fix a few little things, and they will take the internet by storm. Their understanding of the internet is stuck in about 1999. This group accounts for approximately 10% of the company.

The other 90%, the freeloaders, are not bad people. They moved to Asheville, were excited to get a job - any job, as Asheville has so few of them - and genuinely thought this would be a pretty cool place to work. When they realized that the company was more of a summer camp for wayward souls than an actual company, they either started searching for better jobs (some have been looking for months), or they settled in for the free ride. They show up well after noon and leave before 4 PM. They "work from home" an awful lot. They sometimes skip Mondays entirely - sometimes sending an email to let others know, sometimes not.

The owner of the company finds this "frustrating". Phrases commonly uttered are "Does anyone know if [-----] is coming in today?" and "It's really hard to get everyone into a meeting when you're never all here at the same time." Does he not understand that he is in charge? Actually, he's terrified that these freeloading good-for-nothings will quit if he lays down the law. And then how will his dreams come true?

I went through a few phases in my time here that I think are fairly common:
  1. Enthusiasm - I came on board, found all kinds of ways that the development process was broken, and endeavored to fix it. I even made some improvements, like putting together internal code documentation, and engaging in some actual project management.

  2. Frustration - I worked hard to get a good project completed while other team members didn't show up or do any work and others were constantly moved around from my "critically important" project to some other "critically important" project. I finished the project almost entirely on my own and was reasonably proud of how it turned out.

  3. Acceptance - Once I no longer had that initial project to focus on, I had time to look around and really assess the situation. I had LOTS of time because there was no one to tell me what I should be doing. It didn't take long to see that this was not a real company (don't tell the believers, they really hate that phrase). It is, in fact, a tragic waste of money, time, and human potential. So when asked to do some work, I did it, but I stopped wasting any time taking initiative to try to polish this turd.

  4. Annoyance - It was fine when little was being asked of me. Having some money coming in was nice. And while it was boring as hell to be here, it was easy and fairly stress-free. But when the boss suddenly started to demand that progress be made on his latest boondoggle, I knew it was time for me to go. Any progress that gets made here is guaranteed to be progress in the wrong direction. Not a good use of my energy. So I gave my notice. Today is my last day.

Lesson learned: If I work for someone else, I work for money - as much money as possible for as little work as possible. Meaning can be found in other areas of my life.

So what will I do now? I'm lucky enough to have 2 things going for me; 1) a savings account and 2) a very supportive and loving partner who doesn't mind paying most of the bills for a few weeks.

In the meantime, I'm going to be finishing up some personal web projects that I think will make money and be useful and meaningful to people. Because one thing I now know for sure: it just isn't that hard to keep a company afloat.

Raw food dish of the week - Sea Vegetable Crackers

I seem to have a hankering for seaweed lately. These crackers are soooo good.

Ingredients: Sunflower seeds, flax seeds, sun-dried tomatoes, Celtic sea salt, and fresh ginger, blended in the food processor. Herbamare seasoning and dulse flakes sprinkled on top. Dehydrated at 105 degrees for about 15 hours.

1 comment:

Cindy said...

Part of me will sadly miss the hilarious commentary of what is going on at work. I am sure there will be other things to find humor my own job.