I sometimes read Wil Wheaton’s blog. For anyone who reads my blog and somehow doesn’t know of Wil Wheaton, he’s an actor who was in the movie Stand By Me and later played Wesley Crusher on Star Trek: The Next Generation. He’s done other acting since then but those are the roles that are most familiar to me. You might also know him from Big Bang Theory where he played a fictitious version of himself (from what I recall).
In Mr. Wheaton’s blog, he discusses private emotional stuff. I have sometimes written blog posts here that describe more than just a single topic but only rarely do I mention anything emotional or physiological in my life. I will write about a computer programming issue at work but I don’t usually mention who I work for, who we work for as a company, or anything about our corporate culture. Since my boss could read this at any time, I am forbidden by our culture, the culture of the business world in the USA, from writing about problems I have at work. Anything on that subject, or even close to it, is taboo.
So you ask yourself, why is it that a person must hide their problems at work? Why can’t I freely look for a job while having one? The reason is that if your employer thinks you are unhappy, they are more likely to work to replace you than to try to make you happy. At least this is what I’ve been told all of my life. If I let on to my parents that I told my boss I was having a difficult time solving a problem, I think my dad would scold me for having talked about it. And emotions are certainly a thing to be hidden; One should never talk about a project being boring or a co-worker causing frustration. Challenges are something to overcome in private. And at some level, all of this makes sense to me. The logic is sound as long as the people involved behave as predicted. It’s that prediction of behavior that is questionable. I wonder if I could tell my boss about my job and what I like and dislike about it.
The company I worked for five years ago, Active Motif (who bought TimeLogic where I had worked for years), would plan on employee reviews every year. They tried to do that but were usually quite late doing them. When asked to fill out a form that had questions about what I liked and disliked about my job, I tried to be honest. After all, they were paying me to fill out that form and if they asked for my honest thoughts, they paid for them and they would get them. Once, the president and owner of the company called me and asked my opinion about something serious. He was paying me to answer him honestly so I did. It worked out for the better that I was honest, but it was a difficult thing to do. I’m pretty sure that I recommended firing someone but I can’t remember the exact situation anymore. Heck, I probably said that the other employee “had a toxic personality that makes everyone uncomfortable. He creates a hostile work environment where people are afraid to interact with him. He is constantly berating some people while actively trying to get them fired because he things they don’t like him.” Well, that’s what was going on but I probably toned it down a little bit.
I wrote a huge paragraph right in this very spot that described work right now. It went on and on, getting more and more detailed about what was bothering me and what I like and dislike about what I’m working on this week. Then I imagined my dad in my ear telling me not to gripe because it looks bad and if my boss sees it, I’ll get fired. So you get none of that. Work is fine; it’s just a tiny bit frustrating at times like any job would be. And maybe that’s how it really is. Maybe my frustrations are just heightened because I’m stuck at home all day most days due to the pandemic worrying that one day the pandemic will catch up to my company and I’ll end up out of a job like so many others. I also worry that as the challenges lessen a bit, I won’t be worth what they are paying me. I’d much rather do hard work than busy work and earn my pay! For now, I’m going to try to be thankful I’m not in the same position as our artists/hairstylist friend who is managing to get by giving painting lessons in a video-conference.