There's a point somewhere between being busy and pre-occupied where the workday passes by without you really realizing it. Where you're tied up just enough between doing the things you're supposed to be doing and spending time with the distractions you use to look busy when you actually aren't -- that the clock on the wall seems more like a formality than anything else.

Not so much that nothing matters, but that having to go to work and be there all day is such a foregone conclusion that the only details that really register is that you show up close to eight and leave close to six.
In other words -- I have lots of things to do, but
none of them are really due first thing tomorrow.
It was brought to my attention recently that I've been at this job for almost a year. It sounds strange, but I completely hadn't realized it. Whenever anyone asked me about my job, I'd always tell them I'd been there like "seven months or so" -- because honestly that's how it feels sometimes. I know my job, people appreciate what I do, but not everyone knows my name and I don't get invited to be on a lot of committees or whatever.

As such I'm the true definition of a contractor, because despite the time that I've spent here I'm still not that much a part of the company family the way so many of the people I work with are. Of course since I'm still a contractor that lack of gung ho-ism isn't held against me as much as it might be if I were a fully vested employee. I'm a hired gun, here to do a job.
But what I don't tell a lot of people is that I actually prefer it that way.
Don’t get me wrong, I like the people I work with. This company has been nothing but good to me. But in general I'm not the one people call on when they need someone extra to be in the Heartwalk, or sell raffle tickets for the United Way banquet. I'll put a dollar in the bucket when I have one to spare, but it's generally not my thing.

In the past this lack of "the company is better than sex" attitude has gotten me in trouble. I've had annual reviews before where bosses have said to me,
"How about the next time we have a potluck you
bring something a little better than just napkins."
That's a big part about what I like about this gig. They let me fly under the radar. They don't really care how I dress. And it's always been cool. Of course I don't get sick days, I don't get holiday pay, any time I miss is money out of my pocket, and I have to pay full price for any doctors or prescriptions I might need, but it's part of the trade off I bought into when I decided to take this gig. In most respects it seems to have worked pretty well. I do my job, and I do it well -- and I'm appreciated for it.
But there are things I miss out on.
For example, every year this company makes a profit versus projections, they hand out bonus checks to their employees. From what I hear, they're pretty healthy little payments too. There's a full-service gym here on campus that employees get to use for free (because of insurance concerns non-employees are not allowed access to it) and we just had a little assembly the other day where the entire staff got together to congratulate a host of people who have worked in this location for more than 30 years.

Some of these things are more important to me than others, but the simple fact remains that I still could be getting a lot more out of this gig than I currently am. And that's not even counting the fact that in my current situation I'm not really sure even how to start negotiating for a salary bump -- which despite the amount of money they're paying me here I could really use. Of course there's an obvious path I could take to try and remedy this -- but my main objective up until recently with this gig has been not to fuck up and have it all slip away from me like the last few jobs I've had before this did.
The odd thing is that it's taken until this morning for me to figure this out.
Maybe you've noticed that I've not been blogging lately. Or I've seemed a little listless on the phone, or just in general. I've noticed it too -- but couldn't put my finger on what it was that was causing it all. Like everyone else I have my little dramas swirling around, but usually writing is one of the ways I use to step out of all that. I enjoy the process. I put a lot of time into crafting what I want to say, and how I want to present it. Which is why this recent drop off was as bothersome and curious to me as it was to many of you (thanks for the emails, btw). And it's not like I didn't have things to write about, or ideas that I'd already started working on.
It's just that there's an elephant in the room, and it's been hard to concentrate on a lot outside of it.
My hope has always been that at some point I'd be called into a meeting where there'd be a few of the bosses in there, a round of handshakes, and a new sense of direction (along with a healthy increase in my overall monthly income). And who knows -- maybe somewhere down the line something like that could happen. But the clock is ticking, and I haven't heard anything about getting hired since the first time my contract expired and they extended it. They're still giving me work, they're still counting on me for things, so it seems like they still need me -- but I really haven't heard anything one way or the other, and suddenly it's getting under my skin.

Not only because there's a very concrete possibility that somewhere in the next few months when my contract expires I go to their office, shake a few hands, and then find myself mission accomplished and out on the street -- but also because I recently got a very interesting job offer somewhere else that I might want to look into if I can. The upsides to that offer are serious -- but it would require some pretty big changes in my world. Of course that's what you're supposed to do when you're in your mid 30's and you've been slogging it out in the trenches for a few years.

At the same time, there's a possibility the home team could come to the table with an even better deal than the new player could provide, including the stability of building on the equity of a position that I've already put a year's work into.
What I really need to do is kick down my bosses door and say
"I just got a call from a Fortune 500 offering everything you don't plus a raise -- what've you got?"
But as much as it seems like the right idea it's not always the easiest road to walk down.

For whatever reason it's always been hard for me to sit in a pretty good place and look at what might be a better place and wonder which one is the better call, especially when I know it's just as likely that you wait just a little too long to go either way and find yourself with nothing.

I think honestly I'd much rather just have them come to me with something so that I could weigh both offers and then choose the best one for my situation. And it's not that I don't like selling myself (even though it's not my favorite thing in the world) it's just that in the end it's still a job,
And given the choice, I'd rather not have one of those at all.

[Listening to:    S.O.D."Skool Bus" ]