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For days I spent every waking moment consumed with worry over this job situation, vacillating between definitely wanting the job and absolutely refusing to do it. But, thanks to the advice from almost everyone I know (combined with a whopping great wad of soul-searching), I've made my decision.
I'm not taking the job.
What tipped the scales was lunch last Friday with my first real publishing boss and friend and mentor, Ed. He told me about his first real job, working for a legal research company. He was assigned to a case involving one tobacco company suing another over a distribution deal. Though he was just doing data entry, he couldn't live with the idea that he was working to help Big Tobacco, even in such a small way. So he quit.
I told him that I wanted to go back to school to get a nonprofit management master's, and maybe I could put up with an ethically suspect job for a couple years to make that happen. He responded with wise counsel: "You can 'put up with' doing work that you hate, like freelancing or waiting tables. But if you're doing something you believe is wrong or immoral, you won't be able to stand it."
On the drive home, I thought about what would happen if I didn't take this job, if I stopped looking for another publishing gig entirely and just went straight into some entry-level, shittily compensated nonprofit job to start working my way up. It would be a bitch, financially. I'd have to take some freelance writing work to supplement my income. I'd have to haunt the library instead of the bookstore, eat out less often, donate less to charity, sell a bunch of stuff on eBay. I started to figure it all out in my head and noticed that for the first time in days, I could breathe. By the time Jim came home and we talked about it, I was positively giddy. Scared as fuck, but giddy nonetheless.
I'm sure that parts of this plan are going to suck. Maybe we won't be able to get a place of our own for another year or more. Maybe we won't be able to travel very often. I can imagine myself weeping over my checkbook at some point in the near future. But I want to save the world, or at least some small part of it, and publishing newsletters isn't getting me there. I think this is as close to a "calling" as a godless heathen like me is going to get. I'm not going to keep putting it off.
I just sent an e-mail to the HR director of this dubious organization politely removing myself from consideration. I'm starting over.
Replies: 8 Confessions
You rock, woman. And, in addition to the library, you are welcome to browse my bookcases anytime. I applaud your decision. Also it is good to hear you can breathe.
elavil @ 06/15/2003 03:23 PM CST
GOOD FOR YOU!!!!!! (jumps up and cheers)
I think you made the right decision. I'm going though some major issues because I took a job that is now keeping me up at night. (but I'll email you later about it)
But hey, maybe we can start a nun puppet importing business and sell them at Flaming Lips shows.
could be fun!
the other amy @ 06/15/2003 04:48 PM CST
EXCELLENT MOVE. 100% Grade-A primo decision.
Charlie @ 06/15/2003 10:13 PM CST
Good for you! I applaud and support your decision - I really do. Pick an issue and fight for it and if you're ever hungry b/c they pay you subhuman wages, call me and I'll send a freeze-dried casserole or something!
Jenny @ 06/16/2003 08:07 AM CST
Good for you! I would have taken the job because I have this working class fear of poverty and unemployment. But it is good that you stuck to your principles. I wish you well, and hope that you never feel bitter about taking the path less trodden.
Best of luck!
Larry Lurex @ 06/16/2003 10:59 AM CST
To paraphrase Mr. Natural (or maybe it was the Fantastic Furry Freak Brothers): Integrity will get you through times with less money better than money will get you through times with less integrity.
I was also thinking over the weekend about people I know and care (or used to care) about who gave up their self-respect in order to get something they thought might be worth it like love or money or fame. Not all of them suffered for it but all of them were diminished by the choice. I'm glad you took the high road.
elavil @ 06/16/2003 11:11 AM CST
you are a braver soul than me.
I should make you and mr. jimmy dinner some time. anything to get me to clean my diningroom. *smile*
shechemist @ 06/17/2003 11:03 AM CST
Thanks for the love, y'all. I'm feeling it.
And shechem, you should definitely make us dinner!
amyc @ 06/17/2003 02:14 PM CST