After a recent blog post about disliking Mondays, someone tweeted back the question, “What do you think it would have been like had you stayed at your job?” This person was referring to the ad agency job, but it could have easily been the first job I quit after being lured away from a competitor for money.
Because I was in my 20s and naive, I will give myself a little leeway and know that was all part of life experience. Knowing that, let’s go back to the original question posed in relation to the ad agency job that I quit. This is a good exercise in writing, “What if …?” Even as I read that question the first time on twitter a flood of ideas came forth. So without further adieu “What if I had stayed at the ad agency in New York City?”
Before continuing on I encourage you to read up on my previous post so you can understand the context – “I Don’t Like Mondays”
As Director of Operations, let’s begin with the fact that I had already laid off at least three of my colleagues in the first week thanks to the internet bubble bursting. Each week I was given a spreadsheet with co-workers names and salaries. At the bottom was a number I had to hit, as in adding up the salaries of however many it took to hit that number. That number coincided with the employees to be laid off. The first week was easy, three. With each subsequent week it got more and more difficult as that number total was rising, so too were the number of layoffs. It would have taken a toll on my feelings each time calling my friends into the office only to tell them they were being laid off.
I was truly the messenger, but it did not matter to them in their eyes I was management. This despite the fact that I was one of them for most of my tenure at the agency. I had only been in the director position for less than six months. So had I stayed on I would have laid off countless number of employees. Some taking better than others, with many taking it personally and no longer my friends.
I can also imagine that for a job well done in the end after hitting those weekly numbers, I would have received a bonus. I would have seen that bonus in relation to the salaries of my colleagues I had laid off and felt worse. How do you justify a bonus for laying off friends? Money does not buy happiness. At least not for this guy.
I am sure in the end I would have stayed on at the soul-sucking company and continued working in a corporation doing what employees do best, passing the buck, playing politics, attending long boring endless meetings and going on occasional trips to meet with other directors at various sexy locations, the last one, having been Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas. Fun? No! It’s all a game as far as I was concerned.
Had I stayed in the position at the ad agency that would have meant I would continue living in New York City. Up to this point it was eight years. That is a long time in one place for me. The longest to date, with the exception of Tokyo now.
I had a great studio apartment in the West Village (Greenwich Village) paying a relatively reasonable monthly rent. I would have certainly remained in that place. The thing is, a year before 9/11 happened, which I had witnessed, my Father passed away and I was newly married. Talk about the spectrum of experience.
My wife and I at the time were living separately and planning on moving into our own place together. The problem, my attitude about work life was carrying over into life life. How can it not. Work consumes so much of our thinking that it becomes habitual once you walk out that door and into “the real world.” At least for me it did. Take all of that had happened, mix it up and I was a swirling mess of a New Yorker. And do you know what New Yorkers do when a swirling mess? Find a therapist that’s what!
I am sure I would have found an overpriced therapist whose main goal was to get me to talk and rehash over events beginning from my earliest childhood. That would have been the first sixty minute session. Then the following sessions for the next, I don’t know many years, we would continue to talk in chronological order with him probing me, verbally that is, by asking how I felt about such and such and so and so, all the while ponying up $150/hour, and making little to no headway whatsoever. But hey, at least I would be covering the costs for his kin to attend university.
In the end, I am sure I would have been forced out of my rent cheap apartment because of gentrification. Not able to afford rent in Manhattan I’d be forced to move to Queens. Brooklyn by that time would have been way out of my price range.
Living in Queens and commuting to and from work on the subway each and everyday would grind me down over time and in the end I would have divorced my wife, moved back to my hometown, finished an undergraduate degree at the University of Minnesota, met my now wife and moved to Japan.
Same journey just a longer time to get there.
I am glad that this is a “What if …” scenario and not reality. I’m breaking out in hives just writing about it.