water cooler days

While 95% of the time, I am grateful to be my own boss, this week was a five percenter. Five percent of the time, I long for the water cooler days of yore. I used to work in an office populated with 50 or more of the most interesting, intriguing and infuriating people known to man. We laughed. A lot. And when we weren’t busy working or running to the nearest coffee shop (Guttenberg, as I recall, in Library Square in Vancouver) for a tall americano with room for cream, we bitched alot too. Like hamsters in a wheel, we were often lulled into a sense of accomplishment. Sometimes, we actually did accomplish things. Good things. Important things. Meaningful things. But that’s besides the point. What I miss the most is the mundane. The “hey did you see that bit on Letterman” or the “Kraft Dinner is better with ketchup” debates. I miss the days where a broken printer meant a quick call to extension 341 and magically, the coop student/computer science genius from SFU would show up and fix it as part of his higher learning. I miss the “i’ll transfer you to accounting” when suppliers phoned about an outstanding balance. I miss the deep philosophical conversation about paper vs. plastic while the boss was in a “management” meeting. I miss the pay cheque. I miss the coffee and the coffee filters and the coffee creamers that were always there when I needed them. These days, if something goes wrong, or the bill wasn’t paid, or the printer breaks, or the meeting goes long, it’s usually – no, actually, always, my fault and my responsibility.  It overwhelms. But that’s just for this week. Come Monday, I’ll remember the 95%. The “i can wear track pants if I want”, “i can say I was in a meeting, when I wasn’t”, “this job is so fun I’d do it for free (if I could)” moments that make up for the water cooler days. So if you’re thinking of self employment, give it some thought. And if you’re hating your slave to a pay cheque job, give it some thought too. If you’re gonna have the perfect work life, you’re gonna have some good days, some bad days and some “what I wouldn’t do to live in the other guys shoes” days. Because bitching about work is a priveledge, one that I shouldn’t and wouldn’t trade for the alternative.


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