When I left the public radio
industry in early 2001
, I was defeated. I thought I would never go back. In the grips of a bad boss
– a man who was humiliating, incompetent and in general a bad leader – I had little choice but to leave. Today, I had a job interview
at my old company – and what a strange and wonderful experience it was.
I don’t know if other people feel this way, but sometimes you work some place, and it fits. There’s this weird chemistry between you and the company – you belong there. Somehow you as an individual just click with your coworkers. That’s how public radio was for me. I didn’t feel guilty about working in public radio – even when I was in a low-level customer service job, I enjoyed it. I believe in the mission of public broadcasting – it’s the only viable alternative to the rest of the media, which is pretty terrible. It was right for me. And although my current job is okay, it’s just a job. I go in, punch the clock and do what’s expected of me. It doesn’t matter. I like where I work, but I don’t believe in it. And being the only web person in the organization, I feel very alone and isolated. Everyone thinks I’m a magician – that I work magic, that writing code is some godlike gift. I can’t have a normal conversation with anyone. They’re surprised if I’m interested in politics, or world events, or film or music – they have this picture of a “technology worker,” and they don’t take me seriously outside my discipline, because why would a technology worker care about politics? All we know is program code and silicon chips, right?
So being back in the building I worked in for three years was a cathartic experience. I got there early just so I could walk around and wax nostalgic. Surprisingly, I kept bumping into people I used to work with – and even more surprisingly they remembered me. One woman who I used to work customer service with even hugged me – I was so happy to see her. Even the woman who runs the hot dog cart out front remembered me.
It’s strange, when you’re in a really great job, sometimes you take all the good things for granted. And when I left, I bolted out the door without taking the time to properly say goodbye. Being back in the building made me realize that I’ve been depressed for nearly two years – I hadn’t wanted to go, I left because I couldn’t handle the way my boss was treating me. And I missed it so much.
The interview itself went well. The job market is terrible, and there are a lot of good candidates competing for it. But I think I impressed them – and I think I have a chance, despite the fact that there’s internal candidates. One of them glared at me from his cubicle – he had to be another applicant. He gave me a look that was so full of hate and anger – it was clear he saw me as a threat. Perhaps I am – but maybe not. In any event, I walked out knowing that I desperately wanted the job I interviewed for – that I need it. But I don’t have my hopes up, I’m not being unrealistic about it – I know I might not get it.
And if I don’t get it, I need to re-evaluate my life. I can’t keep working somewhere that makes me unhappy. If I can’t go back to my old life, then perhaps I can find a new one that makes me just as happy. If I’m going to be forced to spend eight hours of my day working somewhere, I might as well like it.