job woes

I can’t blog from work — there is no way in hell that I’m risking my boss finding out about this blog, though I’m not sure he’s motivated or savvy enough to check browsing history, and anyway, I clear it out religiously whether or not I’ve done more than check my email — and this is why I have not blogged. Sure, I get off at 3.30, but upon arriving home I basically collapse in a state of devastation to nurse my battered sense of morality and obsess about legalese and criminal cases. This lasts a good seven or eight hours, until I take sleeping pills and start the whole thing over again…

I will not write specifically about my job, will not even talk about it to my out-of-state friends. I would like to — the specific stories are magnificently interesting — and I do think it would help me weather the horrific transition into it, but I am clinging fiercely to confidentiality rules. I spend all day, every day, lying to clients about my boss, putting them off, politely giving them excuses, causing them quite real and obvious distress by my inability (refusal, some of them would say) to help them. The least I can do, all I can do, to quietly atone is to keep their stories and their sadnesses to myself. This does not sound like a momentous act, but it is. Up until this point I have had an extremely amoral approach to even fringe writing activities or storytelling: anything was fine to say if it made a good story; all’s fair in love and art. I am learning to keep the secrets of strangers, and it is painful, actually physically painful.

One thing I will say: I think that the job-trauma would not be so bad if my town were not so small. If this were a city instead, a big city, then the clients would be simply names on a page, disconnected voices calling from jail, unfamiliar faces sitting in the waiting room. Instead, because the town is small, I know the clients by name or by face: they are the people who make my coffee, who serve my family when we go out to eat, who go to school at the college here, whose family names everyone knows. One of them is literally my neighbour. It’s mortifying to me to see people in public and realize that I know their entire criminal histories or the details of their messy divorces, to realize that I wrote up Judgment and Sentencing documents and Plea Bargains for them just yesterday.

It’s jarring and dizzying and puts me into a constant state of horror towards everyone around me. For perhaps the first time in my life I can say with complete truthfulness that I would rather not know any of this.


~ by Not Alice on June 14, 2007.

2 Responses to “job woes”

  1. This concerns me. Do you think it’s really best for you to KEEP this job? Maybe getting a gig at a local coffee shop would be better for your psyche?

  2. I wrote this on, what, a Wednesday night? Tuesdays and Wednesdays are the worst for the job: that’s when every single criminal client must call to check in, which guarantees at least thirty or forty calls on top of all of the others, and so those are the days that are the most excruciatingly difficult. By the time I hit Thursday I usually do feel ready to quit — but I feel that overall this is a good experience for me. It might toughen me up a little.

    Even if quitting weren’t an admission of weakness of some sort, I couldn’t do it — I think that my boss really, really needs me, and that’s reason enough to stay at the job. It’s only for a few months. Surely I can do a few months? That’s what I tell myself, anyway.

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