If you asked me if I had a job, I would easily tell you no. I would tell you that I was “laid off” back in July 2009 (yes, I am using those quotes appropriately if you read between the lines).
But ask me if I work? The answer is yes. And I don’t mean yes in the I’m-a-mom-dammit-and-moms-work-just-as-hard-as-anyone-else kind of way. I mean, I feel like I have a job. I write. I dabble in marketing and social media. I just don’t get paid for it. Yet.
However, this is no office job. I should know. I spent years chained to a desk. Not literally. I mean, I could get up and walk around but couldn’t just take a walk in the park if I felt so inclined. I didn’t have much freedom. I guess I could come in a little late or leave a little early if needed. But there was always someone watching and waiting to report on you (the jealous ones).
When I worked for a Major Corporation as few years ago, I was working in one of the divisions right here in Raleigh. We started as a small software company during the dot com boom. We weren’t a dot com but if you were working in technology at the time, you probably had a non-traditional work environment.
I worked in an office full of 20-somethings. We were all single. We had a soda fountain in the kitchen (free sodas), tables full of snacks (free candy bars, free chips), and a freezer full of munchies (also free). We worked late most nights and on most weekends. We took long lunches every Friday where we went and had burgers and beers.
Then our small software company was bought by the Major Corporation. We eventually were assimilated into a corporate-like structure. We welcomed new faces to our office but for the most part, the only thing that changed was our compensation (for the better).
I moved around laterally and got to know everyone in the division. I even worked with global sales teams around the world. I hustled and bustled and became too busy when I was at the office to get my work done. I tried the “working from home” thing once a week. I thought the quiet time at home would let me focus and be more productive.
I was wrong. I was so happy to have time at home that I found myself just throwing in a load of laundry. Or taking a long bath. Or long lunch. Or playing piano. Then I would try to work and get distracted again. I’ll admit it. I was bored and lonely.
A few years later and the Major Corporation had grown tired of our little division. Perhaps it was the pace at which we worked, or the bugs in the software, or the difficulty selling our complex product out in the field. Whatever it was, things began to change from the top down.
Although I wasn’t in a position (nor did I have the desire) to relocate, I decided to make a change as well. I applied for a Corporate Position. After some grueling interviews, I got the job that reported in to Corporate in a Midwest City. I was able to stay in Raleigh and make monthly trips to the Midwest City.
For some reason, even though I worked virtually, our Chief Marketing Officer wanted to ensure that I was in an office every day. I drove to the Raleigh office where I was working and sat behind my same desk even though I no longer worked directly with any of the people in that division. It was weird because I was part of the office but not really.
Years later, here I am in a totally new situation. I’m home every day. I don’t mind it one bit. I don’t get bored. I don’t get lonely. I certainly don’t get distracted by housework anymore. So what’s changed? What’s different?
I figured it out. It’s my co-workers. Everyone on Twitter is my co-worker. We chit chat over coffee or laugh around the water cooler. We tell stories about our kids or the show we watched last night. We share links to funny stories or put our best work out there for everyone to see. But it’s better than traditional co-workers. Here’s why.
Twitter Friends are awesome because:
- You can turn Twitter on and off and no one really knows.
- You don’t have to pay attention to every conversation.
- You don’t have to listen to what everyone says.
- If you miss something in a conversation, you can always go back and catch up.
- If you aren’t paying attention when someone’s talking to you, you can check your @ mentions so they’ll never know.
- You can walk away for a bathroom emergency and not have to tell anyone.
- You can “magically” disappear from a conversation if you want to.
- If someone really annoys you, you can simply unfollow them.
- If someone really offends you, you can simply block them.
- If you want to whisper about something or someone, you can politely send a direct message (DM) to someone else.
- There’s always someone there if you need a break or a distraction.
- There are always new people to meet and discover.
Co-workers aren’t as awesome because:
- You can’t choose who you work with.
- You have to actually look at your co-workers, some of which might be unsightly.
- You have to deal with strange body odors (remember, I worked with a lot of software developers).
- You inevitably have to deal with someone that thinks they are the fashion police.
- Someone is always trying to stomp on you with backstabbing or tattle-telling.
- If you get wrapped up in a boring conversation, it’s not easy to walk away (especially if they don’t get the visual cues that you’re done).
So I guess this is my way of saying thanks for keeping me company throughout the day. Thanks for making me feel like I’m not alone. Thanks for listening to my boring stories. If you do actually walk away during my story, please don’t tell me. I’ll just assume you had a bathroom emergency.