The Sad Spreadsheet

In my novel Winter’s Trial, I have a character, Austin, who is stuck where he is and cannot get out until certain things come to pass. He has most of his apartment boxed and ready to go, though there is no end in sight, because the packing of a box helps him look forward to a time when he will be out, when he will be away, when he can be happy. The one box he hates most of all is the one in which he keeps the clippers for his hair, because that constantly has to be unpacked, used, repacked, and put away. Each time he does this, he hopes it’s the last time he had to unpack it, the last time he has to repack it in that place.

It’s a small detail, but one I included not only to show how ready he is to leave, but because I do the same thing. Frankly, I hate my job and I’m in a ghastly rut. I’ve been talking about trying to get out of it and getting away, but I’ve been here for a very long time and it’s difficult. I’ve always been one to want to set roots and cling to them, and it becomes difficult for me to pry myself out of my stubborn ways. Taurus traits, I hear. There are certain things I need in a job (a.k.a. good insurance, sustainable income, and coworkers I don’t want to clobber — or more that I don’t than ones that I do), and since I’m also looking to move at least a state away, it becomes that much more intricate of an ordeal. Change bothers me, but now it has become a driving force. It’s hard to upset the bull, to make him get up, but when he does, it’s a charge forward. There’s a lot of work to be done, but I’m finally doing it…instead of just talking about it. Rut be damned.

The preceding two paragraphs come together because I have a little breathing room this month at work and so have spreadsheets I have to update for the quarter (for the whole team), for the year (for each person on my team), and a place to compile all the information (for my supervisor). Each time, like my character Austin, I think about where I will be at that time. When I make the spreadsheets for the year for the whole team, I think, “Will I still be here then? Will I see another Halloween, another Christmas, another dreaded January here?”

Preparing these types of things used to bring joy, excitement, and pleasant anticipation. I was practically Pollyanna, disgusting as that may be. I would think of all the things I could do, all the fun I could have, all the accomplishments I would celebrate, maybe even the romance(s) I could have. Whatever. I saw it as a book, one where I couldn’t peek at the end, no matter how the anticipation got to me. Life is essentially a choose your own adventure book, anyway. I would grin like an idiot when I would print out a calendar for the year and write in people’s birthdays because of that feeling of pleasant anticipation, like the calendar was a diary not yet filled, as if, by concentrating hard enough, I might see the writing on those last few pages, or peer through some magic window at those last months of the year.

Now, however, the thought only fills me with dread. Am I preparing these spreadsheets for my successor or will I be the one filling them out, nine-and-a-half ghastly months from now? My team is like quicksand, a roach motel, a black hole, a trap from which nobody escapes, nobody gets out, nobody gets promoted (except me, I guess.) My team hasn’t lost a single person in about 8 years (despite the desperate need for a purge), but I still think about who will be added to (or subtracted from) from the list in the ensuing year. I think about who will be doing the work that goes IN the spreadsheets — me or someone else? I think about where I will be when those months roll around — in a new job, in another state? Or will I be here still, still firmly rooted in my rut, still miserable, still with the same backbiting slugs, still dragging forward to the weekend…and the one after that…and after that? Will I still be stuck in a depressing, endless cycle until all the spreadsheets are filled…by me?

So, sad spreadsheets, indeed. Last week I finally updated my résumé after literally a year (plus) of talking about needing to do it. I’m recovering from my random accident a year ago and working out and getting better and am making amazing strides (literally). I’ve talked to a friend about going on vacation in a few months to view the city I hope to call home someday. If she can’t, then I shall nervously go alone. I can start looking for jobs when some of that is done. I wanted to be out by the beginning of summer, but it’s looking like the end will be more probable. I’ve never moved so far in my life, and haven’t moved without help ever. It’s scary. Terrifying. But sometimes you just know…it’s time. No more sad spreadsheets for me. Right? Right???

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~ by Darren Endymion on March 14, 2016.

3 Responses to “The Sad Spreadsheet”

  1. great post.

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