Monday, June 28, 2004

Nonbillable, Nonentity 

My non-law-related day job has one thing in common with law firms. There are two classes of employees: billable and nonbillable. I'm a tech writer, and I'm nonbillable. There - I've said it. I'm overhead, but the customers want what the department produces, so they keep us around. However, our needs aren't high on the corporate priority scale, and we don't wield much power in the structure.

But this knowledge did not prepare me for what just happened. Two of the folks who work directly with clients (and are therefore quite billable) walked into my office while carrying on a conversation. After stepping in, one of them briefly looked at me and said, "Sorry, we're just going to borrow your window," then continued the apparently private conversation which involved something about which tree outside would be the same distance as the tree in need of a trim in the yard of one of the interlopers. No effort was made to explain the conversation to me even in passing, or in any way to mitigate the fact that they walked into my office, ignored me and chatted about the view from my window. They then turned around and walked out. No further comment to the office occupant - me.

Ah well, such is life. At my previous job, I was #2 in the company (about 100 employees total). I hired, I fired, I planned and implemented the growth of the company, I was the miracle worker who could solve the problems that had stumped all others. People feared me.

But it was my sad discovery of this last fact, combined with the increasing issues I had with the principles of the company owner, that led me to leave that job for something a little less pressured. I'm a nice person. I don't want people to fear me without a good reason. Apparently I was intimidating to people who didn't even know me.

The current job did allow me to decompress from the combat duty that was the previous job, but then after recovery I realized that I missed the day to day action, and the feeling that I was making a contribution. So I entered law school. For the next phase of my professional life (to commence in approximately 3 more years, since I'm an evening student), I'm hoping I can retain the lessons of both these experiences and maintain a balance among fear, respect, drudgery and interesting work. Too much of any of these is definitely not a good thing.

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Posted by Beth Henderson at 2:51 PM