Now that I stay home with my son a lot of people ask me if I miss my old job. I answer them honestly. I do miss the problem solving aspects of writing code and I certainly miss my interactions with co-workers. (Well the ones I liked anyway.) But the truth is I knew my passion for work was over long before my last day.
When I started working for my former company I enjoyed an easy 25 minute commute. I was young and eager, (only 21), and had a lot to prove to myself. I spent many long nights working from home. This wasn’t expected or required. In fact, most of my coworkers had a hard and fast 9-to-5 rule. I was new to programming, (having been an English major in college), and I was fascinated by the very nature of computer science. My excitement and my desire to succeed spurred me on.
The world of an English major is very subjective, but in the world of computers a program either words or it doesn’t. It was the type of validation I didn’t know I needed, but once I received a taste I craved it more and more.
Six years after I started working I fell ill and stepped out of the workforce for five months to recover from an unexpected surgery. When I returned I found my passion for work had greatly faded. I suffered from a large pulmonary embolism that could have taken my life and from that point on work just never seemed quite as important to me.
My days at work ebbed and flowed. Sometimes I fell into old patterns of working long after hours. I got excited and intrigued by new technologies and difficult problems. Heck, even on my “lazy days” I seemed to work harder than the majority of my coworkers. I sat next to a man who did little to no work and read the newspaper from cover-to-cover each day.
Shortly after recovering from surgery my employer relocated my office. While my coworkers boxed up their belongings to move to the new office I started taking things home. At first it was just some books and training materials, but later it was personal artifacts like pictures. I took one or two items each day and on the day I transferred offices I had only one and a half boxes to take with me.
My 25 minute, 8 mile commute became a 30 mile, 1 1/2 hour nightmare. When I moved into my new cubicle I didn’t unpack. Another sign that I had little desire to be there. Every so often I looked inside of one of the boxes and dragged another item home.
I endured that long commute for nearly five years, before finally relocating to an office closer to home. While I returned to a shorter commute I felt more miserable than ever.
I tried to throw myself into work, but by that point I had lost all interest in the job at hand. I still gave 110%, but it was hard to muster up any excitement. My new office was lonely, my team was located in multiple places and on most days I didn’t talk to anyone other than my manager, on some days I didn’t even talk to him.
Again I started taking things home, (I’d only moved half-a-box here from my former location), and by the time I was handed a pink slip, (not for my lack of effort, but rather because my entire department was obliterated), I had almost nothing left to carry home.
My heart hadn’t been in my job for quite a long time. I endured years of poor management and poor decision making. Whenever I tried to do things the ‘right’ way I was told to sit quietly. The managers I worked for praised those who were quiet and incompetent. I didn’t fit the bill for either.
I can honestly say that I do not miss my former job. In retrospect I believe I simply wasn’t a good fit for the company that employed me. I stayed because they paid me well, provided outstanding benefits and permitted telework.
This isn’t to say that I wouldn’t be happy at another place of employment. I’m sure I could find a job that would be a much better match for me. But as for the question at hand, I can honestly say I do not miss my job. I knew my passion for it was over long before it ended.