DISCLAIMER: My comments towards white-collar work and the worst I refer to here (such as the bitching about minimum wage) are not from my current job. My current job does have frustrations, but in general, office politics isn’t part of it because I am out auditing. Most of these references are from my time with the Department of Defense auditing defense contractors. That being said I still don’t like white-collar jobs.
I hate them… there I said it loud again that I absolutely hate the environment, culture, and most of the people involved in white-collar cubicle jobs.
This came up this morning when I was pulling the dishes out of the machine. I could smell the same smell I would get when working as a dishwasher/prep cook. The smell of well-cooked food was still in the air. The hubby was a sous-chef for a four-star restaurant back before we worked in offices and he had cooked a great pork loin meal for us. He is why I am spoiled when I eat out. This combined with the smell of a finished dishwasher, detergent, and still warm dishes brought back working in a restaurant.
Growing up, no one I knew had a white-collar job. Family and friends were customer service, kitchen staff, labor workers, or bikers. I never got a frame of reference for what working in an office meant or how people acted, except for what television showed. Even the first eight years of my working career were food/customer service type jobs (more than 35 of them). I didn’t say I was good at staying at jobs, just that I had never been around white-collar jobs.
When I got to white-collar jobs (working in the healthcare/medical office field) I was unprepared for how office life was, and this wasn’t even full cubicle since the medical office is sort of a halfway point between customer service and a cubicle job. So there was some familiarity in it, even though it was more toxic.
In a lot of ways, white-collar jobs are easier work but really are soul-crushingly shallow in the actual value you bring and shallow in the people working there. This ends up being ultimately more stressful for me. Even though these kinds of jobs are way easier than anything at a restaurant or retail, the environment is far more toxic.
Don’t get me wrong, working in the white-collar world means I get paid enough to pay my student loans, medical to cover our health concerns, and we stay warm and dry not having to work our bodies into the dirt doing jobs that don’t get paid enough for what you sacrifice for them. That is the ONLY reason I work in white-collar. Once we are out of debt, and if medical coverage either becomes single-payer or having a job isn’t required to have coverage, then I am out.
I have found over the last 20+ years of working full-on white-collar that I trust my coworkers less. We have nothing in common, and the drama is not worth it. Growing up I was used to being able to trust most of the people I work with, at least enough for them to get their job done and to unify against management in our bitching about the job. I also miss being able to talk about things I like, joke around with people with similar backgrounds. People that understand the references to having grown up with Top Ramen and mac and cheese.
The one thing I do miss the most is working around people who give real smiles or other emotions while at work. In my experience with white-collar jobs, you can’t trust the emotion you see on a person, especially the smiling. White-collar jobs do not have a lot of real smiles, mostly they more resemble viperish and misleading smiles, harboring contempt and drama (ok I have had some bad experiences haha).
The jobs themselves in cubicle land are easier than any retail/food position, even though accountants and other cubicle workers claim minimum wage jobs are only for high schoolers. I have never felt good sitting at a desk and doing repetitive work, and even worse when staring at the clock as I watch my life drain away for things that don’t impact anyone directly. At least when I worked in food, whatever I did was eaten by the customer so it was direct, or when I worked doing janitorial or something else the end result was a clean place other people could use. Now I research, do reports and conduct a lot of financial analysis only to have it thrown into a file and no one looks at it. On the off chance someone does look at it, they ignore it and do what they want anyway, even when my work warns them not to.
That is partially why I have stuck with auditing. Out of all the accounting jobs I have had exposure too, it is the one most like a service industry job. I have to go out and talk with and interview people. I drive around to other places constantly and the job is always moving and changing. While the form of an audit is repetitive in what you are doing, the vast differences between each entity I review make it a new job.
Hmm… maybe this post is conflating two issues, service industry jobs, and my mental health issues that make it hard for me to do something repetitively.
This doesn’t even count the ridiculous expectations that a lot of white-collar job workers have about their actual value compared to lower-paid workers. These coworkers often think that people working service industry, labor or other low end paying work don’t deserve to be paid a living wage. The conversation/argument I was having with them was the living wage minimum wage of $15 an hour and that their jobs aren’t tough.
Meanwhile, during these arguments I had with them, I watch these same office workers spend hours trying to put up a Seahawk flag (while getting paid $45 an hour) and ignoring their actual work. They didn’t like it when I pointed out they were bitching about someone working a much harder job for $15 while they fucked around putting a flag up for multiple hours. They never brought up the minimum wage argument to me again after that.
I do hope if we ever get out of this debt/medical coverage issue, that I will be able to get out of the white-collar world. I am really hoping I can do it so maybe the last few years I am able to work physically it won’t be shuffling papers and dealing with office politics.
Well, my rant ran out of speed and I will leave it there. Trust me there will be more rants though, this is just the start.
2 thoughts on “White Collar Jobs”
If you haven’t seen it, you would likely enjoy, “Limbo: Blue collar roots, white collar dreams”.
The ‘getting things done for a living’ issue is part of why I stuck to the operations side of the tech industry. It’s still a lot service-desky, where you’re solving other people’s problems every day (new ones, with some old and long-standing ones in for good measure). I had a career-conversation with someone on our api-support team last week. They solve other people’s problems every day, and were looking at what their next-steps in the industry could be. Stay put? Move into software development? Something else? She was talking to me because DevOps isn’t development, so wanted to know more.
Her boss said, “You’d probably be really bored in engineering.” I get why. Yes, you can buckle down and _create_, but you may be working on the same feature for a week. Same issue, day after day, with a new problem as part of the overall solution to work on. The difference is subtle, but is very much why I _didn’t_ go into making-software for a living; the effort/reward cycle is skewed in ways that don’t scratch my itch.
I am going to check that out. It feels nice I am not the only one who feels that way about this. 🙂 Thank you for letting me know about it, I wouldn’t have ever known. Also I hope you and yours are doing well my friend ❤