Despite all the issues I’m having with sleeping (or not), I find it very hard lately to leave my bed when the alarm goes off at 5:30 a.m. At first, I thought being a night owl was just that hard-wired for me, but I’ve come to the conclusion that, workwise, I am in the midst of a colossal case of burnout.
This is not a unique situation, nor am I blaming the Industrial Commission (the clipping I pasted in here earlier notwithstanding). Everybody, no matter how much they love their jobs, experiences burnout. (Certain jobs bring it about earlier and more intensely than others. When I worked at the Cincinnati post office, one of my fellow mail sorters left the post office and became an air-traffic controller. He said it paid better and was less stressful.)
I do manage to make it through the day, and all my evaluations have been good ones, and I’m flattered that the Executive Board of my union entrusted me with the position of Recording Secretary. I’m frustrated when there are no doctors’ dictations in the queue to be typed, and I am equally frustrated when there is a backlog of dictation that stretches three weeks back. Typing ex parte orders is about as exciting as watching paint dry, but it is quick work and is not the type of work that you can put off forever.
So I shouldn’t be going through burnout. It’s not the equivalent of the “compassion fatigue” that firefighters and social workers experience. I have zero contact with the public (one of the job’s deciding factors for me), and I’m on top of all the work that needs to be done. Yes, I have a pod that looks like New Orleans post-Katrina, but I can lay my hands on any document or implement (staple puller, scissors, pens, Hi-Liters). However, a State agency (or even many of the companies in the private sector) tries to stress the idea that the ideal employee is one who can drop dead on Friday, and then the supervisor can go into his/her pod and know right away what projects are finished, what are still pending, what is completed. That type of thinking really makes you feel like a cog in the machine.
There’s no brass ring working for the State of Ohio (or any other civil service job, for that matter). Anybody who goes into government service for the money is insane. The benefits more than make up for it–it’s no secret that government pays less than the same work in the private sector. I like the niche I’ve carved for myself there. I have no desire or ambition to go for an administrative position. I tell myself it’s because I’m such a zealous unionist (I’ve belonged to several labor unions in my work history), but if I’m 100% candid, I know it’s because I don’t want the responsibility inherent in it. I would not want a job where my job is riding on how well somebody else does theirs. When I worked for The Harvard Crimson, (http://www.thecrimson.com) each new editor received a festschrift dedicated to The Crimson‘s longtime Linotypist and printer, Art Hopkins (the title was The Art of Fine Words, although I think How Great Thou Art would have been better). One person wrote that they knew when the newspaper was in crisis mode–Hopkins would be buckling down and doing his job and his job alone.
So I’m more in a state of weariness about the job, not buckling down and working so hard I’m courting an ulcer and a heart attack. I’ve been sleeping so badly that I’ve been dozing off on buses and during breaks. Tonight, I was taking Susie to kids’ choir practice at church, and I had actually dozed off on the bus. Fortunately, Susie saw where we were and woke me up, otherwise we would have overshot the Unitarian Church’s stop altogether and possibly been late for choir practice.