Positive Job Experiences

Someone in an AS forum responded with surprise when I wrote that I found my boss supportive on the few occasions I'd "lost it" at work. Shortly thereafter, I wrote a post in which I pondered why I'd had such good luck, overall, in my work life:

I don't know what factors have made my employment (just passed the 20-year mark with the same institution) possible. Maybe part of it is that I work at a university, where the proportion of "eccentrics" is higher than in the for-profit world. When I started at the U, I had such little "status" that nobody noticed me -- and, of course, the work I was given tended to be easier and mostly repetitive chores (which I like). I tend to hyper-focus (if I focus at all) and am a "whiz" at completing "mindless" repetitive tasks. I'm also very good at transcribing dictation. When I was "elevated" from file clerk to secretary, it happened to be at the point in office-work history where a knack for transcription -- using a typewriter, remember, not a computer yet -- was in high demand.

When I finally moved from the entirely bureaucratic areas of the U into one of the academic units, I was truly among people who are inclined to accept "diversity"/eccentricity. I was lucky, too, that my bosses valued the particular kind of intelligence I am able to exhibit. I am interested in many of the same things they are, and I comment on those subjects (spontaneously) in a way that gives them respect for my intelligence and opinions. Another piece of very good luck is that I have been assigned to work for people who accept (and even appreciate) my total lack of status consciousness. I don't seem capable of treating people differently according to some hierarchy of "importance" invisible to me. My bosses know that I treat people with the respect I think they deserve - and they seem motivated to retain my respect.

One odd thing: people tend to perceive me as "moral." Sometimes this is a negative thing, because I am seen as "moralistic" and "judgmental." Other times, people seem to see me as "pure" in some way. They seem to know somehow that I do not lie, steal, cheat, manipulate, etc. (except in extraordinary circumstances) and that I expect the same from everyone (until something happens to flip my either/or trust-function switch from on to off).

I think my bosses routinely over-estimate my abilities, particularly when it comes to anything requiring memory or organization. They seem to like me, though, and I try not to disappoint them.

I guess it's been very helpful to me all along that I tend not to feel very involved with work or the people there. "Anthropologist on Mars," as usual. I am not able to perceive the "office politics" that makes people take sides against one another. I don't care what people think of me, as long as my boss is satisfied (because I do need to keep the job), so I don't walk around feeling put down by those who think I'm weird. I don't have a lot of "self-esteem" invested in the job, so I truly don't mind if/when I am asked to do work that is "beneath" my status as a "Program Coordinator." (Of course, it's also true that I usually enjoy the more "menial" work more than the "more responsable" chores I have acquired through the course of years.)

Sometimes I think I also still benefit from the gap between my age and how people perceive me. I'm 51 years old, after all, and have had a lot of time to "mellow" and learn from experience and acquire interesting bits of information (that makes me appear "smarter" to some people than I otherwise would). And yet I seem to come across as younger than I am -- maybe I "act young," though I have no idea what that may mean.