Tuesday, May 09, 2006

A Room Of One's Own

On Friday I got an email from a woman at one of the contractors I worked with at my last job. A big part my job was contractor-wrangling: holding their hands as we discussed financial spreadsheets; arguing with them about prices and contractual responsibilities; soothing ruffled feathers over minor and major issues. You know, day care for CFOs. It had its ups and downs, but overall it was one of those jobs you are glad you did but are happy is over.

This woman has always been very nice to me. She wrote to let me know that her boss (the Chief Operating Officer) was leaving her organization, and to ask if I was interested in putting my hat in the ring for the job. This is totally flattering, but suggests the great extent to which this woman overestimated my knowledge and abilities. Putting aside the fact that I don't think I am ready to go back to full time paid work just yet, I immediately started day dreaming about what it would be like to work for this organization. I checked the company's web site, I figured out the route I would take to get to the office (and how long that would take), I considered whether I'd get an office. I thought about this last thing for a while.

An office is one of those silly I-shouldn't-care-but-I-do perks that I've never had. In the ten years I have been on a career path post-graduate school, I've worked for the federal government, a consulting firm (stationed in a state agency), and state government. I've always worked in cubicles, and although there is a certain we're-all-in-this-together camaraderie associated with life in cubicles, it also means I have heard way more than my fair share of bad radio sing-alongs, office gossip, and personal information I'd rather not have known. I once endured 20 minutes of my boss's secretary on the phone discussing her hysterectomy in vivid detail. As horrifying as this was to overhear, it was made worse knowing the person who was (loudly) relaying it: a woman with an intense Rhode Island accent, dyed black hair with an inch and a half of grey roots, and dark stockings under white sandals. (Think: morbidly obese Cruella DaVille with less fashion sense)

After I emerged from my dream-state, I looked around at my current job site. On Fridays I work from home, and (despite the fact that we have a huge wooden desk from the 1930s) I take up residence on the bed in our office/guest room. Propped up by my husband pillow, I stretch out with the laptop on my legs, my phone within reach, files spread all over, and at least one empty toast plate tucked somewhere in the mess. Although on this day the timing of Ada's nap allowed me to shower before work, I often work unshowered and in my pjs. It's a good set up (may video conferencing never gain mass popularity).

No matter how good this COO job is, no matter how much it pays or how flexible they are, they are never going to give me an office this good. The coffee will never match what I've got downstairs, and the snacks won't be as delicious and available. And although this is the casual west coast, I'm doubting the polka dot jammies will fly, even on Fridays.

Good thing that I'm not qualified for the job.


  1. I'm confused, this woman offers you an amazing job and "you" don't feel you are qualified? am I understanding this right?

  2. There was no job offered. She was letting me know there was an opening and suggesting I might want to apply.

    I have not seen the job description yet, but I am fairly sure I am NOT qualified. The woman is a nice person who I was able to help some, so I imagine she has an inflated idea of my expertise.

  3. It is possible that what they are looking for isn't someone who is necessarily qualified, but rather someone who can grow into the job. If you really aren't qualified then applying and going through the process would be just a good experience.

    The chance that you could get offered the job and the office is problematic though--the problem that faces mothers. Step off the executive track and on to the mommy track?

  4. You are way too humble! Anywho, I am glad you didn't apply and accept the position, it is hard to find cool mamas to play with during the day and I am not ready to cross you off the list!

  5. i get what you're saying. who would want to leave what you have? i love being able to take naps, and eat good food, and go shopping, and play on the computer, etc. you got a good gig where you're at.