I hasn’t been a good week, and that is on a scale that has been recalibrated to accommodate the fucked up “new normal” prevalent in early 2021. Every day this week, I’ve allowed myself to get angry. Every day, I’ve suffered a shame hangover after getting angry. Most days, I’ve wondered how bad I want the things that my job pays for. Today, at the end of the day, I’m still suffering the emotional impact of yesterday.
I’ve continually struggled to convince myself the bullshit that I put up with at work from my customer is worth it all. I’m well paid, but sometimes it doesn’t seem enough. My customer and my management both know that it would be a serious disruption to their program if I left, so they say the right words, but their actions (at least the customer’s) seem to tell a different tale. Their actions are driving me crazy. My reactions to their actions have an even bigger impact.
I wonder how even bureaucrats can be so inept and indecisive – and that seen through the lens of extensive personal experience with bureaucrats. I wonder how they can believe that treating me and my team like shit will result in the product they hope for. They came to us in the first place because they couldn’t describe what they wanted in terms that were refined enough to take to a conventional system developer. We are supposed to serve as an honest broker and trusted agent to help them refine and finalize those things, but they refuse to trust us even in the little things.
In a year of intense work, we’ve gotten nowhere, and done nothing substantial except for generating a mountain of paper that is never read beyond a cursory search for things to complain about. We should be nearing completion of design and beginning assembly and test, but we still can’t get them to pin down fundamental objectives. Instead of working through the relevant concepts, they always find something non-substantial to bitch about. Instead of being an engineer, I’m at best a tech writer. They never seem to get to the underlying point and move on.
This kind of horse shit is a HUGE part of why I left the military. Why am I putting up with it now that I’m free? The unfortunate answer is that I’m not free. While my cohorts have had the opportunity to accumulate 20 years worth of equity in their homes, I bought mine with nothing to put down less than a year ago. Every penny I ever put into real estate was either wasted or went into the pocket of a landlord. That means that I couldn’t afford to move even if I wanted to at this point. I need the money to support our commitments, and there isn’t really much else here in the local area that has potential to be any better.
Even if finances would support another move, I couldn’t do it. While my cohorts’ children were enjoying something like stability, mine were being uprooted for a another assignment or disrupted due to a deployment. Their kids would probably do okay moving. It might even be exciting. Mine would rather die. I can’t ask them to leave again. I WONT ask them. Even if they were fine with it, I’M NOT. I’ve moved too many times. I’m so far removed from anything like roots that I don’t feel like my house is my home. I don’t feel like I have a real home. I’m not starting over. This place is going to be home. Period. Ergo a I need a job that will support that.
Yesterday, I almost walked away. Then an insufficiently filtered version of the truth came out in response to a minor case of my customer’s bull shit. Then another. Then a call to my boss from the customer telling him he needed to “rein me in.” My inability to put on a happy face and absorb repeated body blows is now putting my employment in jeopardy. If I hadn’t managed to make myself a critical asset, they would have chased me off the program, and probably out of the company, by now. I’m walking a thin line. If I can’t pull my shit together and get better control of myself, I risk having to move again. I risk losing on real estate again. I risk financial ruin. I risk further alienating my kids. I risk putting myself back where I was. I risk an awful lot.
This kind of dilemma is what drove me to make the decision to stay on active duty when I wanted to leave several years ago. My decision to hold on and hope it got better so I wouldn’t lose the one financial asset I had (my retirement) resulted in serious damage to me and my family. Damage that still hasn’t been repaired. Damage that likely won’t ever be completely repaired. Facing a similar dilemma now is drawing all that damage back to the surface. That process is feeding the beast that is eating me alive at the moment.
I don’t see a way out of this. I have to go back on Monday and try to mend bridges I want fervently to burn, knowing that burning those bridges would cost me many other things I want fervently. Maybe I should just quit wanting.