It’s a force so jolting you’d think that you had just been blindsided by a rhino.
Common side effects include but are not limited to: lost sense of identity, whiplash, anxiety, missed bowel movements, premature bowel movements, or really any kind of unintended action dealing with bowels.
This force that I’m referring to, of course, is the instantaneous acceleration from going entirely unemployed to working 60 hour weeks. My launch from around the clock nothingness to hyper-employment took a transition of less than 3 full weeks.
I’m not complaining – especially not in these times – but it definitely is a lifestyle shock. Throughout college I had small jobs and/or internships but never did this demand more than 20 hours a week, and that would be a busy week. Free time was something that I worked into my schedule at all costs. I’ve gone as far as to skip class so I could be at the gym during times when there were fewer people to negiotate on the track (I feel confident saying this in public now that I’ve received my degree). Sophomore year a roommate and I had a ritually viewed Everyday Italian every Monday through Friday (neither of us cooked). I wouldn’t leave until the episode ended even though it resulted in arriving 15-20 minutes late for class twice a week. Punctuality is a skill I’ve learned to adopt over this last month.
If you thought that spare time lives in college towns, try moving halfway across the country, to a city where you have more eyes than friends, and not knowing when your job will start (turned out to be a little over a month). It’s an equation that adds up to borderline bum. At first having the excessive time was a blessing. I was sleeping in, aimlessly strolling through new areas, reading, listening to audiobooks, developing a Wii addiction, and cooking multiple meals per day. When you go to the grocery store five times in one week, that’s too much free time. I was starting to make friends at Trader Joe’s (I bet cashier Jake misses me). After a while free time was starting to cost me mentally (and financially for that matter). When all you get accomplished in an entire day is watching tangential YouTube clips and browsing the “free” section on Craigslist, that is a day where you have degraded society.
Finally, I get a call from the Padres letting me know that I’ll be starting in a week. The job, however, only occupies roughly 25-35 hours a week. It’d give me enough extra money to eat only a couple of meals per week (which is referred to as the Hollywood diet out here – in Wisconsin it’s called anorexia). Still, when you do nothing for 8+ weeks, 25 hours of work feels like a full time job; regardless my bank statement knew the difference. The search for job two ended up taking a solid 3 weeks of filling out the same application 250 times. Just as I’m getting comfortable with the Padres job, the local seafood restaurant interviews, hires, and starts me within a few days.
Last week, I worked my very first 60 hour week. It was a time that I knew would come. To be honest with you, I feared it. I was unsure if someone who had trouble sitting through a 60 minute lecture could handle 60 hours of productivity. Before going into the week, I looked at my schedule with that same feeling that you get on the way to you very first day of school (I cried like I was being delivered to serve a lifetime prison sentence).
And how was it? Much easier and satisfying than I had predicted. In all honesty, the copious amounts of spare time was much more difficult. Waking up without a plan becomes a challenge. Maybe it’s because I actually enjoy my job and the people that I work with. Maybe it’s because I set my expectations of working 50+ hour weeks so low, that it would have been hard to match in reality.
Whatever the reason, I’ve learned that hard work isn’t all it’s worked up to be.