When Stuck in a Miserable Job….

Copyrighted by Lorna Tedder. Originally published in Crimes to the Third Degree.

Sometimes, you have to wonder why a Higher Being would allow you to stay in a miserable, soul-sucking job. Or even in a moderately satisfying job that still doesn’t fulfill your life’s purpose.

Flying By Night novelBut sometimes, that’s exactly why you’re in a position you don’t want to be in. You have something to give to the people you meet there, even if you never know what you’ve done for them.

A year ago, I was offered my pick of any local position in my career field, but I chose a quiet, somewhat boring staff job because it meant virtually no weekday or extended travel, and that was best for my single mom-hood. It’s been a comfortable place to work, if not terribly exciting. I could have picked a much more prestigious position but I put my family’s needs first, realizing that as long as I choose “no-travel” jobs, my chances of another promotion are nil. And that’s okay because so many other fulfilling activities are part of my life and not attached to my job.

But today, I understood why I am in this job, in this office. Not because of the teaching, advising, researching aspects-and heavens, no, not because of my talents for a being a good reviewer-I’m not anal enough to be as good an anal-yst as I think I should be!

Today, I had a long talk with a colleague-personal issues…it always is-and I knew, without a doubt, that the reason I’m in this office was to have that conversation. By being there, I had something to give her emotionally and spiritually. In exchange, without knowing it, she gave me insight into the thought processes of someone important to me. We gave each other a blessing today.

I’ve had this exact moment in previous jobs, too. Often someone I’ve taken under my wing and given a new perspective. There are productive, happy people in the workforce because I was there at the right time-put into a spot I didn’t want to be in -but something I said or did helped a light bulb come on so that they stopped whatever behavior was bad for them. And lest you think I take full credit for their little turnarounds, I fully understand that I was just the conduit-and that I got something back from the exchange that was just as good for me, too.

Not every job ended so positively. I’ve been in offices from Hell, but the opportunities for change have been there, taken or not. In the only office I’ve ever worked in that I truly hated, I left with a major reprioritization of my life plan.

The supervisor who made me miserable? I still have her email where she promised that if I would do her work for her for one whole year while she got her Master’s Degree (I already had mine), she would get me promoted. She had a terrible habit of bailing out of work with an email at 12:55 to me and to 50 other people, including all the bosses, telling me to give a briefing about something I had never heard of…at 1:00. She had a really bad habit of claiming credit and shifting blame and I was her opportunity to change her [evil] ways. I left the job, got promoted without her help, and watched her implode a few months later when she blamed the wrong person-someone with a lot more rank than I’d had. But we both got something out of that experience, whether we knew it or not at the time. And I got promoted without any help from her.

As I left for lunch today, I ran into someone I worked with years ago. We reminisced a little before she asked if I remembered a heartfelt chat we had about her penchant for alcohol and why she needed to self-medicate.

“You were a real blessing to me,” she said. “I’d been praying for help and the Lord used you to kick my rear end. I got my life back in order because of something you told me.”

I never would have guessed. All these years, and I’d never heard this. At the time, I was in the office from Hell, dealing with Satan’s little sister for a supervisor.

It makes me wonder, for all these people in jobs where they don’t want to be—or even ones where they do want to be—do people realize what a silent blessing they so often are?