On lack of reward

Every day thousands of people get up, get ready, and head in to the office.  Movies and television show the office as being just a part of life.  We are told from childhood to go to college so we can get a good job.  Since when is working in an office a “good” job?

For me, the biggest reason that I don’t like working in an office is that I do not see the end results of my work.  I work hard on something all day and all week long, but I can’t really quantify it.  As humans, we want to create something or help someone or at least feel like we worked hard.

A construction worker can look at a house he/she built and feel proud that he/she completed something.  A cook can see a happy person eating his/her food.  Even a janitor can see the clean floor after he/she mops it.  In an office, we finish our work, hand it to our boss, and usually don’t even know where it goes.  Even if we do, seeing a piece of paper with numbers on it is hardly satisfying.

We work to bring home a paycheck.  We take that paycheck and use it to pay for our home, our food, our debt, etc.  I guess money is our reward.  That’s nice, but it still feels like there should be more to life.

I think about the people who came before us.  They built buildings, invented cars, and created our entire way of life.  They built cities and countries.  It’s because of them that we are even here today.

I work in an office and make reports.  I report on something that someone else does.  There won’t be a kid who looks back in 100 years and things, “wow those are some great reports”.

I recently went to Mount Rushmore.  Hundreds of people went to work to carve some faces in a mountain.  This thing is huge.  It took years to create, but it’s still there.  Imagine how you would feel having worked on that.  At the end, you could look up and think, “I helped build that”.

I think we have the innate desire to create something.  Maybe we just want to be remembered.  Or maybe need to feel like we are making a difference in the world.  Personally, I want to help people.  I want to know that what I did that day made a difference.

Working in an office doesn’t give me that feeling.  I spend most of my time putting together reports about someone else’s work.

When I was in high school, I worked at a sandwich shop.  It wasn’t brain surgery and it didn’t pay much more than minimum wage, but every time I made someone’s food, I was helping them and making a difference.  Sure if I didn’t do it, someone else would, but it felt good.

It’s something to know that a real person is going to enjoy and be satisfied because of your work.  At least it makes me feel good to see the smile on their faces when they get their lunch.

What do you think?  Is working in an office rewarding?  Do you feel like you’re making a difference?  If so, what’s your job?  I’d like to know.

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  1. #1 by Daria on July 11, 2011 - 3:46 pm

    I can empathize. Most days I don’t feel rewarded, in fact most days I’m just counting the minutes until I get to leave work and finally do something productive for me, like going food shopping or making dinner. Every now and then I get the opportunity to teach someone at work how to do something or get to feel like an authority and those days keep me going. That and the knowledge that this is a very bad time to be unemployed.

  2. #2 by Chelsea MW on July 22, 2011 - 7:33 pm

    Lee, where are you?? I keep looking for a new post from you in my inbox. Everything ok?

  3. #3 by no name on August 3, 2011 - 12:15 pm

    just because you have something at the end of your job, doesn’t always mean you feel proud afterward.

    i work a job where i can do creative work everyday, with an actual result to look at when i am done. sometimes this give me some pride.

    most of the time, it makes me sad that i am making these things for the sole purpose of my corporate overlord having increased sales. for work to be enjoyable, it needs to be self-actualized.

    • #4 by survivingthecubicle on August 3, 2011 - 2:07 pm

      You make a good point. I guess I’m just frustrated that I’m not really able to do either. At least most of the time.

  4. #5 by bardicblogger on August 20, 2011 - 10:22 am

    This is exactly why I left my call centre job. I just felt so frustrated because you never really achieve anything.

  1. Who cares? « Surviving the Cubicle

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