Just like a bad relationship, sometimes it can be hard to decide if a job is awful or if we’re just not trying hard enough. The answer is almost always, “It’s not you. It’s the job.”
As someone who has been in the workforce for more than 40 years, I can assure you that if you find yourself in any of the following situations (all of which happened to me), you need to break up with your job. If you’re timid, just ghost your job for a few weeks until the calls to return to work stop.
You know you’re in a bad job when:
- You work with a narcoleptic on “shared projects,” all of which you have to do on your own because he always falls asleep mid-sentence. Also, everything piece of paper he touches is damp from drool.
- Your boss makes you touch his sweaty stomach every day after he gets back from the gym. If you refuse, he grabs your hand and slides it across his slimy, flabby belly. You lose a lot of weight because you don’t have an appetite for 8 months.
- The new boss – a child psychologist – not only makes you do all her non-therapy work for her, you hear her telling young children in her office to “grow the fuck up.”
- You are not allowed to talk. Or hum. Or whistle. The old woman in charge (whom I remember as at least 400 years-old, although she was probably 60) won’t tolerate any sass from the young folk and talking, humming, and whistling fall into the category of “sass.” You’re worried about thinking too loudly.
- Similarly, you work for someone who believes that on a scale of 0 (silence) to 10 (man screaming in support of some sport team), the appropriate volume level for women is 1. This makes it so much easier for the men to mansplain and manterrupt without straining their diaphragms.
- The boss is paranoid and makes you dismantle your typewriter (yes, I AM old, why do you ask?) every night because he’s afraid that people will come in and type stuff on it. He insists you lock the carriage (part of a typewriter, for those of you who have never seen one) in your credenza and give him the key. When you try to get your credenza key back the next day, you can’t find him because he’s usually hiding somewhere.
- You help write the first smoke-free policy for a university (in 1989!). As a reward for this, you are assigned as the “complaint line” for anyone angry about no longer being able to light up in their office.
- Your male boss absolutely cannot seem to make eye contact with women because his pupils dart immediately to their boobs. You hatch a plan with the women to stare at his crotch every time any of you talk to him, but he enjoys it.
- Your boss tells you that you are “too creative for a state organization” and regularly condemns you for “having ideas” because ideas just lead to more work for him.
- You have to convince a group of prisoners to adopt healthier habits like working out and eating more vegetables. WHILE THEY’RE IN PRISON!
- Your co-worker brings her baby to work and keeps the kid in a drawer in her file cabinet. You are expected to ignore the situation.
- Due to circumstances beyond your control, you “accidentally” steal 20 hamsters slated for experimentation and then have 20 hamsters you don’t know what to do with.
- While conducting a drug survey of local police and sheriff’s offices, one sheriff shows you the marijuana plants he grows in the atrium so his officers “know what to look for.” You have to try not to laugh because you’re afraid you’ll lose your job or get arrested for disrespecting a police officer.
- Finally, after years of doing your best work and being mostly unrecognized for it, you get a new office suite for you and your secretary. There are big windows overlooking a park. The building services crew comes in and erects a 6-foot tall cubicle around your secretary’s space because only people at a certain job level are allowed a window office. You keep dismantling the walls, but return the next morning to find them up again.
- You walk in on the Vice President of the organization you work for having sex with the HR manager. That will teach you to show up 10 minutes early for a meeting. You can never sit at that coffee table again without spraying it down with disinfectant.
For good measure, here’s one way you know you’re in a great job: You accidentally break your boss’s foot by running over it with your chair on your second day of the job and she laughs it off!