BULL: Have you ever felt like Mor(t)on, and what is the worst job you’ve ever had?
PW: For sure, I’ve felt like Morton, and I think anyone who has had a handful of jobs on a resume and several decades of living has as well. Becoming a ‘Morton’ is easy when an employee is new, and it can be one swift movement from new worker to idiot-worker-who-will-never-get-this-job-right with a mistake early in the learning curve of any job. This, of course, disappears the moment someone is hired after you. To say the least, the perception of peers plays a big part in a new employee’s labeling process. The boss can be your guarantor for so long, but in time it will come down to your coworker’s opinions, and they will eventually get to your boss. Sorry to be so uplifting. Perhaps this is why I write—alone.
I think mortonization can also occur when the employee doesn’t see a future in what he/she is doing, as the constant dreaming of being somewhere else or of pursuing something else will inevitably affect the job at hand. Years back, I worked for a car rental company. I didn’t want to rent cars and didn’t see a future in it, but I needed the scratch. My job performance suffered because I was always thinking of something else and I got written up three times. So while almost every other person in the office was discussing the last time the oil had been changed in the Plymouth Reliant-K (yeah, it was that long ago), I was thinking of the best way to get over the fence without the towers seeing me. If caught in this situation yourself, you might find the reaction from coworkers to be (either said or unsaid) the ever-popular, “So, you think you’re better than us?” And to this you can answer, “No, but I’d like to try to be better.”
The worst job. Let me choose between the rack and the breaking wheel. I have had some frustrating jobs—mason’s laborer, insurance salesman, supervisor for a contract security company—and they all have spawned moments that would qualify as worst. Tarring a foundation on a ninety-five degree day; closing a twelve hundred dollar sale at night only to have the person back out the next morning with a 9 AM call to the office; and too many with the security company to even narrow it down to the twenty worst. I guess all jobs have that one task that makes a person reconsider why they filled out an application in the first place. Not long ago I was driving on the interstate in a cold pouring rain, on the way back home from another state. I saw a line of about thirty tractor trailers backed up in the weigh station and extended onto the interstate. In the downpour, a saturated state trooper stood at the driver’s side window logging the trucks on a clipboard. The computer must have gone down. He probably hadn’t thought that was going to be part of the job.
Anyway, I write now. It can be frustrating and the mass of rejections can be avalanche-like, but when the creative process is pumping, it is truly satisfying in a way I imagine very few vocations can claim. By the way, if you’re in need of a writer, feel free visit my website, www.paulweidknecht.com, and shoot me an email. I promise that if you hire me I’ll never write an article about how bad the job was—just make sure the check clears and that if the time ever comes to fire me, it’s well past 9 AM when you call.