Posts Tagged ‘environmentalism’


why i don’t like my job

November 30, 2011

As any of you playing along at home know, I recently started a new job.  My title is bland and non-descriptive (I’m a “University Program Specialist”), but the gist of it is that I educate people about alternative fuels and advanced vehicle technology, so that they can clean up their act.

Lots of folks are puzzled about why I don’t like this job (“it sounds right up your alley!”), and they kindly remind me that I was excited about it a few months ago.  Fair enough.  I’m here to enlighten you.

Why don’t I like my job?

  1. I don’t get paid enough.  Granted, I make more per hour than I have ever made before (technically untrue, if you assume that my grad stipend was paid out as an hourly wage for 50 40-hour work weeks a year, but we all know that’s not how many hours I worked), but it’s not enough to make me enjoy my job or to pay the bills without some severe penny-pinching.  This is made worse by the fact that there was a severe misunderstanding in the hiring process about how much money I’d be earning.  When I started this job, I thought I was making better than twice what I actually make.  Ouch.
  2. I don’t buy what I’m selling.  Because of our funding sources, “educating people about clean transportation” means telling them that we can clean up our air, slow down climate change, and solve our energy crisis just by using alternative fuels and new vehicle technologies.  We have lots of slides at the ends of powerpoint presentations that say “there is no silver bullet,” but what we mean is “we need to apply all of these technologies to solve our problems and then we’re fine.”  New technologies are a band-aid, in my opinion, and we won’t get anywhere without just plain driving less.  It constantly grates at me to be writing copy that says otherwise.
  3. I am either preaching to the choir or shouting into the void.  Our audience consists of people who drink the kool-aid (environmentalists through consumption, who like buying new things to fix problems caused by using too many things), people who make the damn kool-aid (the companies who manufacture and distribute this stuff), and people who are suspicious of the kool-aid because they think kool-aid is a liberal conspiracy (small-town fleet managers).  I don’t feel like I get much done.
  4. The work environment is as silent as a cathedral  (only without windows), so I actually don’t get much done.  The newsroom noise this summer ruined me forever, and now I can only be productive if there’s some kind of low-level chatter in the background and people to chat with every so often.  My office mate likes quiet, and there’s little interoffice visiting that seems to happen.  This week I have been making progress with the NPR-low-in-one-earbud strategy, but it’s less than ideal.  I don’t like NPR that much.  Some days I get more done on the bus than in the office.
  5. As previously mentioned, the commute sucks.  Also, only one other member of the group I work with — the clean transportation group, mind you — takes the bus.  One does, however, own a Prius, and the others “drive efficient cars.”  This does not console me.  Let’s be fully honest here about my bus-taking motives, though.  I don’t do it out of the fuzzy green goodness of my heart.  I do it because I can’t actually afford the gas.  Reference item #1.
  6. My second job, as a freelance writer, is much more awesome.  Therefore, in my deluded brain, every hour I’m at this job is an hour in which I could be writing sciencey things.  My brain does a poor job factoring in how much harder it would be to get by if I were writing full-time with the limited contacts and clips I have, so for now, my brain gets told to stuff it.  It still whines, though.

So there you have it.  I am not a fan.  It’s only 6 months, though, at which point I will have hopefully found a job I really like, have made enough contacts to pay bills by writing full-time, or the partner will have found a job he really likes.  Let’s hope.