Power and Politics - I am Not the Yellow Peril

The life and times of an Asian American activist who tells all the truth (and dishes news and analysis) but with a leftwards slant.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Work stress

Waiter Rant is focusing on his book, and the distance from the restaurant and his old boss is giving him some much needed perspective:

I’ve come to realize that stress burns the years off your life like a ravenous fire. Working for Fluvio was stressful. Some of the stress was my own damn fault. In any case, I’m glad I’m out of there.


This is the absolute truth - although I did not want to accept or admit it at the time, I was partially responsible for my previous situation - I could have left. (Granted, the hours I was working, and the travel I was putting in didn't leave a lot of time to be networking or polishing my resume.) This is not always the case for every employee or worker out there - some people work minimum or less than minimum wage jobs and if they left, they would either be hard pressed to find another job or they would be trading crappy pay and conditions at one place for the same at another, with different faces.

This is why I am glad that Congress is passing a new minimum wage bill (one version has passed the House and another the Senate, so they need to conference.) People will be making a minimum of $7.25 by the time it's fully implemented, which is a nice jump from $5.15, but remember that the minimum wage hasn't increased for about a decade! It's also why I read hui jeong's yul sheem series. I value our labor and contributions, as well as the stories and experiences that come along with them. Even if they happen to be unpleasant, it is a tremendous gift for someone to share what they learned at work with you.

Recently I shared some of my hard-won knowledge with an acquaintance. She is someone who I happen to know who was going through a rough situation, and needed an outside perspective to say: "I know what you're going through because I've been there. first you feel worthless, and then you begin devaluing yourself. That's when the problems really start. Get out while you can."

So I am glad that she is starting to seek an exit strategy. Other times, people believe that they have to stay and fight it out. This acquaintance asked me, "Part of me feels like I should stay and battle and see what lessons I can gain from it."

My response was that it is worthwhile if you can change the institution and its culture, and that it is an invaluable skill to learn, if you have fought the good fight already, and your opinions aren't valued, you're not doing your workplace or your career/happiness/sanity/health much good. Better to find a place where you are a good fit, if you can, and try to improve it.

I am really really happy with my work right now, and I feel very lucky. I wish some of my coworkers realized how good they have it, even if there are a few things that could and should be changed.

Compared to this time last year, I am not throwing up, having panic attacks, headaches, or any of the other symptoms that my old environment and team brought on. Friends and family alike remarked on how much happier I seemed at holidays, and I am. I value this good place and I wish everyone could find one of their own.

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