I've been thinking about getting a job lately. A real job. Not the kind of job I have now where the income is inconsistant and health insurance is not magically covered every month, but the kind of job you're "supposed" to have when you're almost 30. The kind where you sit at a desk with other responsible adults, do what you're told to do for eight hours, and then go home at the end of the day and not think about work for the next sixteen hours. That's the downside to working for yourself; You're never really "off the clock." Lately, the projects I've been working on have been pretty all-consuming of my attention, and the idea of guaranteed nights and weekends without obsessing about work has seemed really appealing to me. And to January, who probably saw me for a grand total of four hours last week.
I decided to test the waters a bit by keeping an eye out on Craigslist for some job openings that may work. I did find one that sounded promising -- a downtown agency touting $5/month health insurance, free lunches, and a brand new pool table. The technical requirements were almost an exact match to my resume. After a brief phone interview, I was invited to spend a day at their offices doing some demonstration work to prove to them that I could cut it. At 9:00 this morning, I found myself in a downtown office shaking hands and being escorted to my cubicle.
That's when it all came flooding back to me.
The deafening quiet. The stale, air-conditioned chill. The sensation of not feeling natural light for hours at a time. That is why I don't have a "real job." I knew after an hour in my cubicle, drinking my drip-brewed Folgers, that I wasn't cut out for that sort of position. It took all of my determination to not stand up and scream, "How can you all work like this?!" I did stick it out, though, and put in my eight hour day of whiteboarding sessions, database concept reviews, code walk-throughs, and peer evaluations. And then I got the hell out of there.
Now I finally understand why "happy hour" is so popular.
I've come out of my experience with a newfound resolve to make it on my own. I may have come into my career as a freelancer by accident, but I think I'm at the point where I need to me more intentional about it. Either that, or give it up entirely and succumb to a zombified career once and for all.