8 Things About Working for Someone Else

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8 Things about Working for Someone Else

I got a job this week. Really, I got it a couple weeks ago, but I was in training for two weeks, and this is the first week of regular hours. It’s not a dream job or anything, but it does relate to my dream of financial mastery, what with the paycheck and all.

Herewith are 8 Things About Working for Someone Else

1. Working for Someone Else is not secure. We just pretend it is.

For most of my working life, I’ve been self-employed, with a few relatively brief excursions into the outside world, working for someone else.

Working for someone else creates the illusion of security, and therefore every ten years or so I seem to get a hankering to not be the captain of my own damn ship, and instead to sign on and crew on someone else’s ship.

In truth, there’s no security at all in working for someone else.

You’re putting your financial well-being in the hands of someone else, and you have no idea what that someone else is going to do, and therefore what that someone else is going to do to your financial well-being. But somehow, when someone else is signing the checks and there’s a regular payday and you, as an employee, have no knowledge of the company’s bank balance, it feels more “secure.”

Having no control, no knowledge, and no power is not the definition of security, have you noticed?

2. Working for Someone Else can be aggravating.

I have yet to work for the company that never does anything aggravating. One full week into my current employment, and I’ve encountered a whole passel of aggravations. They ask me for my preferred schedule, and promptly ignore it completely.

My actual schedule looks not one whit like my preferred schedule. I don’t really care about the hours per se, but why did they ask me, if they were going to ignore me?

Just tell me when to show up. Trust me, I will show up. I need that secure paycheck.

Working for a living always prompts employees to utter the phrase, “If it were ME, this is how I would do it.”

But if course it’s not ME. It’s them. They get to decide how they want to do it.

3.  Working for Someone Else can have some persnickety rules associated with it.

Today I went out to my car and found a threatening notice on the windshield. It said I was in violation of the parking rules, that my car had been photographed, and that I should consider myself warned. For one, I didn’t have my parking pass displayed; that’s a perfectly reasonable rule that I accidentally violated when I forgot that I drove Virgo Man’s car yesterday, and left the parking pass on his rear view mirror.

But the other rule I had violated was that I was taking up more than one parking space. Now this one was definitely persnickety.

I should have taken a picture of my own to show you. My back tire on one side was approximately one inch over my side of the white line. Not even half way into the white line. Certainly nowhere near the interior of the space next to me.

Taking up two spaces?

Not even close. If it were ME, I’d have a little tolerance, plus or minus.

But of course it’s not ME, it’s them. See above.

4. Working for Someone Else is a roller coaster.

I’m working on commission, something that I used to love. I once worked in a high-end shoe store, and sister, could I sell some shoes. That’s when I realized that working on commission would be a good thing.

One time I sold $1500 worth of shoes to one person. She had just gotten her annual bonus and wanted to buy an entire year’s worth of shoes. (I know. I have never IN MY LIFE spent $1500 on shoes in a year, but whatever.)

The next day she came back and bought two more pairs from me.

I still made my $8 /hour, which was a bummer. I would much rather have been on commission. But I haven’t worked on commission since before the crash, and it’s a different world out here now.

People are WAY more careful about what they spend, and about putting stuff on a credit card.

They want to think before they commit, and often when they think about it, they decide not to buy.

On day one of my job, I closed 60% of the business I was given, as compared to the office average of about 20%.

On days two through five, I stunk up the joint.

I cannot identify any difference in my behavior between days one and days two through five. It’s just random.

Very emotionally roller coaster-ish (although could we get this roller coaster going uphill before we crash it into the ground?).

5. Working for Someone Else is expensive.

When I work from home, I wear sweats and go barefoot. I don’t have to drive anywhere, and I eat my lunch standing in front of the fridge picking through leftovers. Or I don’t eat lunch at all. Going to an office, by contrast,  is more financially demanding. I had to buy some decent clothes today (ow).

I filled up the car with gas yesterday, and will have to do that once a week instead of a couple times a month ($55 a pop, double yeow).

I’ve probably spent $30 this week on lunches.

Yes, I realize I could take my lunch to work, but working in an office makes me want to get out of the office and let someone else make my lunch. It’s just a lot more expensive to work for Someone Else, almost to the point where it feels too expensive to go to work, especially if I keep stinking up the joint the way I have the last couple of days and don’t make any money on commissions.

6. Working for Someone Else is emotionally destabilizing.

When I work for Someone Else, I feel like Sally Field, wanting evidence that I’m liked. And it’s funny how the people I work for seem to have other things to do instead of continually reassuring me that I’m doing a good job.

Here I am, a grown woman, with all kinds of credentials and experience and everything, and what do I worry about?

I worry whether the silence means I’m doing well, or that they’re mad at me.

I worry whether my numbers mean my customers don’t like me personally. I worry about that lady who said to me on the phone this morning, “Oh! I thought you were voice mail, not an actual person.”

Is there something wrong with my voice?

The same voice that I have made a living off of for almost my whole adult life? Am I suddenly sounding mechanical and robotic? Is that why my numbers are down?

Do I need to get a voice coach? (I know. Shut up.)

7. Working for Someone Else is exhausting.

Working for myself, if I get stressed, I can step away for an hour or so. Working for someone else, not so much, especially in the early days of employment. If someone comes looking for me and I happen to be pacing around the parking lot, what does that say about my commitment?

I have to worry much more about how things look when people can actually monitor me, as opposed to when I’m working from home and there’s no one here but me and the dog.

And it’s not just me.

I was reading about the Facebook IPO and learned that Mark Zuckerberg had to send an e-mail out to the Facebook staff, many of whom are now multimillionaires as a result of the IPO, reminding them to “stay focused.” What, no day of resting on one’s multi-millionnaire laurels? Jeez.

8. Working for Someone Else is, let’s face it, validating.

There have been moments this week when I have been inordinately happy. Giddy, even.

Someone liked me enough to hire me. I’m making a steady income to contribute to my household. It’s kind of sick, because one of my core beliefs about myself is that I am not worth anything unless I’m earning money.

So I know my good mood is on the manic side. But whatever.

I’m really happy that I have a job and they’re paying me. At least so far. I’ll let you know what happens next week.

So there you have it, Dreamers: 8 things about working for Someone Else.

Anything to add?




  • Oh god – feeling your adjustment pain with your comment “Working for Someone Else is exhausting.” I’m slowly getting adjusted after about a month. Made me laugh on a Monday – so thanks for that Jayne!

  • Love this! (sitting on couch, in jammies, don’t think I’ve washed my face yet). I get this. In my work coaching women who work for others, I work with these concepts all the time. And that first one, about job and financial security, is such hard one for longtime employees to understand, especially if they’ve never worked for themselves. 

    There’s a lot of head-in-the-sand about this. I also see it in employee retirement accounts. Longtime employees have no clue about how their 401Ks are being invested. Not a clue. When I make gentle suggestions about how they might want to take a directive hand in their own retirement accounts I get dumbfounded “what language are you speaking?” responses. Some magical thinking here, huh? Like the boss/company will provide for my retirement. Sigh.Still working on the ways to engage and empower my clients about all of this. 

    Thanks for a great morning read!

    Love and light,

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  • Catherine

    They are lucky to have you and probably have no idea what a great writer you are.  The economy can still be wonky in location-based areas, especially where you live — where city and county leaders have invested too much in luring companies that don’t offer great pay to the bulk of their employees like hospitality (wineries, retail, tourism, restaurants, and caring for the elderly) instead of looking to build tech companies so close to the bay area.

    They look at the possible tax dollars, rather than the type of jobs these companies create and what they do to an area where they create the need for most of the people to have to work more than one job to afford to live here.  Northern California still doesn’t get that they are part of the bay area. 

    Too many small companies still don’t understand the value of technology or social media — let alone hiring someone who is not their grandson to do it.

    Not to mention how many great corporations this area has let move away without doing everything to keep them here or bring in comparable companies.  The loss of HP was foolish on the part of this county.  They should be begging George Lucas to build his new studio up here.  There is a lot of great space right next to the local airport.

    There’s a real talent pool here and if one was willing to sit on a bus for 3 hours a day, one could make a serious living in San Francisco or even south in tech valley.  But many are trying to raise a family and stay in their kids lives and not do an exhaustive commute.  You do what you have to do.

    What you are currently back to school for should eventually change your life.  I tell everyone who is in your shoes to think of what you are doing as venture capital for launching your dreams.  You will make your dreams come true.

    I am sure of it.

    Loved the post.  I laughed so hard.  Such truth.  Simply brilliant.