Thursday, June 27, 2013

Workplace Abuse - Mentally and Emotionally Preparing for the End

Perched on top of a water tower on South Padre Island in South Texas, we had a hard time deciding if these men were crazy or just had a death wish.  Actually, they were up there doing some sort of work on the tower. What were their feelings, their thoughts as they sat atop the water tower?  Their employer would say that they weren't being paid to think or to feel, simply to do their work.  To get the job done. Whatever.  They not only had a spectacular view of the Laguna Madre to the East and the bird sanctuary right below them, but their perch gave them a completely different view point from those directly below them.  Those (like me) who had their feet planted firmly on tierra firma.

I find myself dragging my feet on this narrative as I approach (for the second time) the end of my final contract.

I say for the second time because that is how it feels as I relive this traumatic experience.

Only this time, I know how it ends.

And I'm not really looking forward to it.

As the end neared with my supervisor still refusing to tell me anything, I went through several stages emotionally.  Just as they say there are definite stages to grief or to learning that you have a terminal illness, I went through several stages as the end approached.  Looking back, I don't think I can remember or recall them all but I will try.

First, was a feeling of doom and dread.  Wanting to hang on to what I had.  Not wanting to let go.  Gradually, though as the pressures of the work grind coupled with the increasing stress continued, I began to think that I wouldn't mind leaving the job if it were not for the money issue.

I've mentioned in an earlier posting, how it was my faith that enabled me to stay somewhat vertical during this time.

At one point, I heard or read an example about a pastor who called up all the children in his congregation to sit near him at the front of the church while he told a story.  He gave each of this children a $1 bill.  Then he held up a $10 bill which he was willing to give away.  The catch?  The child had to let go of the $1 bill in his hand to get the $10 bill.

That story gave me a lot to think about.

Was my job the $1 bill in my hand which I had to let go of before I could receive the equivalent of the $10 bill?

For me, though, I would have to let go of the $1 bill in my hand by pure faith that something better, i.e. the $10 bill, was out there waiting.

Did I have enough faith to be able to do that?

Another story I heard during that time was about a woman of faith in a third world country (I don't remember her name or where - just the example because it was powerful).  They had just put a new roof on their church when disaster in the form of a storm struck and the roof was demolished.  This woman starting praising God.  People around her were astonished. Why was she praising God when they'd lost the roof of the church?  When asked, she answered to the effect:  she was praising God for taking away the roof because that meant he had a metal roof, i.e. a much better one than the previous one, for them.

In those last weeks before the contract ended, my mind came back again and again to those two examples.

Could I praise God even if the job ended because I had the faith to believe something better suited to me was down the line?

Concurrently, did I have the faith to mentally and emotionally let go of this job regardless of whether or not I could see something on the other side of it?

Because I was on contract, there would be no exit or severance package to tide me over.  When the job was over, so were the paycheques.  Period.

Towards the very end, though, I was ready to go.  It was time.  Past time.

I was exhausted.  I desperately needed a break from the unrelenting stress - both from the nature of the job itself and from the toxic atmosphere I was working in.

However, I still wanted a rescuer to appear on the scene.

I wanted someone to represent me.

I guess I had watched too many Lone Ranger episodes as a child, where the Lone Ranger always swept in at the last, crucial moment with his sidekick Tonto and saved the day.

Although this view of a bird sanctuary on South Padre Island in Texas is taken from the third story of a viewing centre, the water tower the workers were perched on top of was right beside.  They had a far greater, more comprehensive view from their perch than I did.  I wonder what they saw at that moment.  How did this scene look to them?  Admittedly, I'm looking at the view of my workplace experience from a very low level, i.e. ground level.  Being right on the scene.  How would the same view look from another perspective?  I've often wondered how it looked from God's perspective.

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