Way back when, I used to work for the Labor Relations unit of a large public University, dealing with unions and management. It’s always fun to tell people that I kept a leash on the unions and got to see the dark underbelly of the University at work, but in truth I was just basically a secretary who kept the grievance process rolling along (well, I did get to see the University’s dark underbelly). I’m not the most detail-oriented person in the world, and this was a job that required a lot of attention to detail. I spent three years at that job, getting more and more frustrated. I liked my bosses and my co-workers, but I wasn’t a good fit for the job and I was stymied in my attempts to get my web development career moving.
At one point toward the end of my tenure there, the unit head noticed that I was — well, dissatisfied, shall we say. He suggested that for my sanity, and for the sanity of everyone else in the department, I might want to take a week’s vacation or face some disciplinary action. I’m pretty grateful that he offered the choice, because he didn’t have to, and it did give me some very badly needed cooling off time. And during that week, I interviewed for and got a job as a paid web developer with another department at the University. I got back to Labor Relations after the week was up, and promptly told the unit head that I was taking a job offer elsewhere. He congratulated me, but I also know that he was disappointed that I was leaving, even though we all knew it was the best thing. As I said, I liked the people I worked for and with, but not the job itself.
Anyway, long story short: since then I’ve worked doing paid web development for Communications Resources, went on to the private sector for awhile before being laid off, went back to the University as a temporary employee doing clerical work, went back to the private sector traveling the state teaching welfare workers and recipients how to use the new benefits distribution system, and then came back to the University doing full time web development in Linux, PHP, and a bunch of other open source tools.
Er. Okay, on to the main point.
The building where I work now, in downtown Sacramento, is a four-story building. Our office is on the second floor. The ground floor has a few small businesses, but the building is mostly empty classrooms that the University uses for various teaching programs or meetings. And this week, there are labor negotiations going on just a couple of classrooms away from our office.Â And representing the University are my old bosses from Labor Relations.Â It was kind of interesting to see them wandering around the building, and I went up to them and had a pretty good conversation.Â We chatted a little about old times, and about where we’re all at now.Â I told the unit head what I’m doing now, and he approved, saying he was glad I was doing what I enjoy.Â We didn’t get to chat long because they had to get to the negotiations and I had to get to my desk, but those few minutes were enjoyable.
It’s been almost six years since I worked in Labor Relations doing grievance administration, and I honestly don’t miss it at all.Â I know that I’m very lucky to be where I am now; I enjoy my job, I’m good at it, and I have fun at it (PHP and open source development are hobbies of mine; secondary to the writing, of course).Â The guys in that department were good folk, and I’m glad I got to work with them.
There’s no way in hell, though, that I would ever even think about going back.