Thursday, February 25, 2010

The Joy of Tedium

Today I am sitting at work staring at an Excel spreadsheet of over 20,000 addresses. My task is to go through this spreadsheet and find and delete all duplicate addresses. Sounds like hell, right? Surprisingly, I volunteered for this little chore. There is something to be said for mindless tedium.

Growing up, I always envisioned myself as a "career woman." I went to college at a private, expensive (student loans galore!), liberal arts college in Kentucky. Initially, I was pre-med. However, I discovered fairly early in my college career that I did not have the ambition necessary to go to school for another 8 years (at least) to become a physician. I switched my major to psychology (only minutely more useful than my sister's bachelor's degree in... advertising?!), deciding that I would become a therapist instead. After college, I opted (stupidly) not to go to graduate school right away. I worked for a few years at a children's psychiatric hospital, where I met Ruanita. I then moved to Minnesota and worked for several years for HealthPartners, a medical insurance company, in their Dispute Resolution Department. This was right up my alley. I had the opportunity to write every day, which I enjoyed. Being a true Libra, I hate conflict and strive for balance. I was able to use this to my advantage in resolving disputes. It worked out great. I thought I had found a career at HealthPartners. Unfortuately (or fortunately?), I got pregnant with my twins. I had a very difficult pregnancy, to say the least. I was in and out of the hospital quite a bit. I threw up for 7 months straight and lost 20 pounds while pregnant with twins (a diet plan I do NOT recommend). I suffered from depression during my pregnancy. Suffice it to say that it was a hell of a pregnancy! All good judgement and reason went right out the door and I suddenly decided to quit my job one day shortly into my pregnancy. Probably just in the nick of performance had suffered greatly upon getting pregnant and I suspect I probably wouldn't have been around much longer anyway. I happily remained jobless for the rest of my pregnancy. Unless you count growing two people from scratch...that was definitely a job and a half! When my twins were four months old, I was forced to rejoin the ranks of the gainfully employed. For some peculiar reason, Ruanita did not want to be the only breadwinner in the family...huh?? So I dutifully began my job search. I stumbled upon a Customer Service job with Standard Heating, a heating and cooling company. I thought of it as a step down at the time...not so much a career as a "job." However, the pay was decent and the part-time hours worked perfectly to allow Ruanita and I to work opposite shifts so the children did not have to be in daycare. I reluctantly took the job.

The job that I initially thought of as a "step down" has proven to be exactly what I needed, though I did not know it at the time. I sincerely enjoy the people I work with. Though I have busy days, the stress level here is significantly less than I've had in previous jobs. Working for a small company, I feel like I am an integral part of the company...more so than in higher-paying, more prestigious positions I've held in the past.

So here at sit, scrolling through 20,000 addresses, coffee in one hand and my mouse in the other. I've learned in my old age to appreciate tedium. No one is asking a thing of me right now. No spilled milk. No fights to break up. No dirty diapers. No snacks to prepare. I am at peace. The job may not be particularly mentally challenging, but I have plenty of other things in my life that challenge me right now. Maybe one day I'll go back to graduate school....maybe not. Who knows. For the moment, however, I am content. I may not have the career I wanted. But I have the job I needed. The best things in life are not always the things we think we want. I'll let Ruanita be the career woman in the family and I will stick with my tedious job.

One person's hell is another person's sanctuary.


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