I Am the Cowardly Lion

I began working at Hennepin County in 1997.  I remember telling one of my co-workers, "Remind me in 10 years that this is a really good job." And it was a really good job. I was paid well and I had good benefits. The work environment was supportive. I didn't have to work holidays or weekends. On top of all of that, I felt that I was really helping people. Fourteen years later, I don't need to be reminded of how I felt when I was young and the job was new. I remember - with a great deal of sadness - I remember. A lot has changed since then. I'm at the top of the pay scale. Our benefits aren't as good as they used to be. Contract negotiations are always contentious. The work itself has changed and I no longer believe that I'm helping anyone. I am pushing paper so the county can charge for services - it's paper over people now.

What I could not have imagined all those years ago was the toll it would take on to see the worst in people day in and day out . I've done what I needed to do to survive. I set boundaries. I learned to set aside my emotions. I learned to override my basic instincts and common sense. I learned to find humor in the absurdity of the human condition. I did all of this and kept telling myself that I had a good job. I wanted to believe it.

I don't talk about my work much because most people respond by telling me I'm a saint. But, I'm not a saint. Trust me. I'm just someone trying to make a living with the education and skills that I have. I don't talk about being burned out because, to do so, I would have to tell you all the things I've seen that have caused it. People don't want to hear it and I can't bear the drama of it all anyway.

We all want to be happy. We are all looking for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, right? So, sometimes, it's hard to admit that you're unhappy. I've finally admitted to myself that I'm unhappy and that this is not something that is going to change. The bargaining is over - there is no new manager or policy or challenge that is going to make me happy again.

Change is hard for me. I don't like to take risks. I want things to be different without effort. I want change without pain. This is why I'm still working at a job I should have left two years ago. Today, however, things got worse - I found out that my supervisor is leaving. This is the man who hired me, the man who was there when horrible things happened at work, the man who has served as a buffer between me and all the bureaucratic fuckery that has been coming from the top down (and there has been so much of that lately).

Is this the final straw? Maybe.

I've know for awhile that I need to get out.

I just don't know if I have the courage.


*Note: I've closed comments on this post. This post was for my own catharsis and I know y'all would likely say lovely, encouraging things but I don't know if I can handle lovely and encouraging things right now. If you want to say something horribly snarky and funny with a bit of an edge, send it to me via carrier pigeon :)