She hated her job, especially towards the end.
her last day at the office, she sent her mother an e-mail. "It's getting to be a bit
much for me," she wrote,
trying to keep it sounding
opportunities prevail." The
last thing in the
world she wanted to do was worry her mom, who had problems of her own
to deal with: illness, a recent death in the family, multiple financial
Mom had always been her source of strength, inspiration,
connection, comfort: it was important, now,
that she provide the same
in return. While she was at it, she sent a quick
change-of-email-address note to forty or fifty of her closest
friends and professional acquaintances -- including
her best friend in the office, with whom she often exchanged sneaky,
vaguely anarchic messages about co-workers, whenever things
were slow -- warning everyone that her office e-mail address
would shortly be unplugged. "You
can reach me at my Yahoo address until I'm working again," she
told them ... although she didn't seem to know exactly when
that was going to be. She'd been conducting a quiet under-the-radar
job search for the past couple of weeks, using the office
computer and fax machine to send her resume to various craigslist.com
postings. But nothing had jelled just yet.
was OK. She planned to spend the next little while just
'chilling' around the apartment. "It's
time to take some
myself," she e-mailed her
"I completely understand,"
her Office Buddy sympathetically replied.
The job had started out just fine. She
had a nice lady boss. Her co-workers were polite and helpful,
at least in the beginning. The money was good. Her job duties
didn't seem terribly
overwhelming ... mostly just a lot of typing and filing,
typing and filing, typing and filing. The industry was new to
her -- and, she privately felt, boring as HELL -- but
she stuck with it, mainly because she had kids and she needed the
money. Over the
course of weeks and months, though, the job had gradually begun to
cave in on her. She began feeling overworked and
unappreciated: a lethal combination. She
making stoopid embarrassing mistakes. She
carpet on more than one occasion, mostly about her attitude or her
attendance. "I'm in trouble
again today," she
e-mailed a friend, after one particularly unpleasant trip to the boss'
office. She started taking more sick time than was strictly
kosher: the pressures of the job were interfering with her health, her
sleep, her mood, her motivation. Some mornings it was all she could do
simply to crawl out of bed. Eventually she realized that she
had gone from liking her job ... to barely
tolerating her job ... to outright LOATHING
And it showed. In her mind, it clearly became a
quit or be fired.
she wrote the e-mail to her mother, on her very last day on the
now-hated job -- after she sent out the
change-of-address notification to her friends and family and
professional acquaintances -- she went through her
Outlook Mailbox and meticulously deleted everything in her Incoming
Mail folder. Months' worth of messages from her
mother, her sister, her friends, her Significant Other, her Office
Buddy, all went into the computer trashcan,
deleted permanently to keep them safe from prying eyes.
Unfortunately ... she forgot
all about the 'Sent' Mail folder.
why did Kristin leave, again?" I casually asked one of my co-workers
yesterday. I'd already been told that my predecessor had
due to 'personal reasons' ... nothing too specific there:
ultimately, we ALL leave because of 'personal reasons' ... but now that
I'd spent the better part of the last hour
reading through the sent e-mail she'd accidentally left behind, my
curiousity was piqued.
difficult IS this job, anyway?
co-worker -- who, as it happens, was my
predecessor's secret e-mail Office Buddy -- shifted
uncomfortably in her chair. "I think Kris just wanted to find
a job closer to home," she said, her face
betraying absolutely no emotion, one way or the other.
understandingly -- Yeah,
that can be a deal-killer -- and
back to my desk. And
then I went into Outlook and deleted all of Kristin's old e-mail.
feel at all guilty for reading somebody else's personal correspondence?
Yes and no. Yes, because this is the sort of line I
try not to cross, as a rule, ESPECIALLY on the job. The
workplace is rife enough with small violations of
privacy and space, as it is. I try not to contribute to that if I
can help it. On the other hand, this was a
once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to read into the head and heart (and
mailbox) of the person who sat in my chair before *I* did.
Considering how important this job is to me -- and how swiftly a new
job can go hideously awry, as we've all
learned through painful previous experience -- I
consider this more 'research' than 'violation.'
from the sounds of things, the 'head and heart' of the person who sat
here before I did were pretty conflicted.
Which makes me wonder: what is *my*
office e-mail going to be sounding like, six months from now?
Will I still be yammering on and on about how great my new
is: how convenient, how challenging, how rewarding, how perfect
... or will I be writing a sad sneaky little e-mail to my mother, on my
last day at the job, reassuring her that better opportunities
interesting to find out.
to throw a rock?