Turning points

How do you face moving on from a job, or a relationship? Are you a spoke in the wheel or a clean document? Members of Salon's community, Table Talk, tell all.

Published August 13, 2007 5:00PM (EDT)

Work Life

True Tales of the Office, Three: Wilbur's Revenge: The Musical!

Mary1971 - 12:25 am Pacific Time - Aug 6, 2007 - #1084 of 1174

When I was the lone female editor at the college newspaper, the lead editor gave me the "spoke in the wheel speech":

"This newspaper is like a wagon wheel. Each of the staffers is a spoke in the wheel. When one staffer is not working up to his or her full potential, it's like their spoke is broken or missing. Then the wheel does not work as effectively."

Sez I: "So I'm that spoke." And he nodded yes.

I quit and turn in the office key. Then I went downstairs to the faculty lounge and really and truly thoroughly embarrassed my journalism professor, an older man who had been an editor and writer for a major metropolitan daily for longer than I had been alive, by bawling my eyes out -- "No one will ever hire me once I graduate! I'll have to tell them I was FIRED from the school newspaper, and then, and then..."

I still remember how he came over to the chair I was sitting on and awkwardly patted me on the shoulder and said, "Mary, you're one of the best writers I know. And like every publication and paper I've worked for in my life, they need good writing far, far more than they need another editor. You go back there and tell them they can take their job and shove it and I guarantee they are going to track you down and beg for you to write for them again. Promise me you'll let them beg, especially the complete bonehead who gave you that lousy speech." I laugh, but that is exactly what happened.

Fast forward about six years. I'm working this lousy job, making nothing, and my boss -- a completely fish out of water, no leadership skills to speak of, manager by attrition -- gave the EXACT same speech at a staff meeting.

And two months later, I told her to take this job and shove it, although not with those exact words. Since then, every six months or so, I get a pleading e-mail to come back to the company.

Private Life

The Male/Female Question Box II: Show Me Yours and I'll Show You Mine

Heidi Lynn - 10:43 am Pacific Time - Aug 7, 2007 - #6067 of 6086

My personal theory on the "contact everyone you've ever dated when your current relationship ends" pheonomenon:

When faced with the upheaval that is the end of a relationship (no matter how it ends, or who ends it), the desire to go back and revisit, and possibly rekindle, old flames is a like going back to the last clean version of your document before the virus struck, or the last intersection where you're sure you were still on the map, or the last place you remember checking the time before you noticed your watch was missing: they're touchstones, markers in time, places where you knew what was going on and felt a sense of familiarity, stability and control.

In the upheaval of a breakup, death, job loss, major illness, etc., that sense of stability is what's been yanked away, and it makes perfect sense (emotional sense, not necessarily logical sense) to try and scramble back up onto that last patch of solid earth you remember before you stepped in the quicksand.

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