“All Right Now”

DSC_0414When I started up at my last job, the corporate memos were the same style as a competitor I worked for prior, because the competitor had stolen the Word template and just changed the logo at the top, but kept the rest of it the same, the “To, From, What, Why” format and the font, Arial 12.

I was pushing 30, had worked in coffee shops on my feet all hours of the day, then transferred into corporate as a secretary, which they dressed-up as “administrative assistant” and even had ranks within that job denoting pay grade and status to match the person you assisted, their rank and status, which corresponded to the style of office furniture they were entitled to, the finishes and artwork palette, which I guess is only fair.

I was hired to write bulletins that conveyed direction from the corporate HQ, disseminated hardcopy by mail packet once a week to retail outlets around the US and Canada, with multiple versions denoted through an indexing system in small font, in the header.

If there was a voice to the memos — which is a stretch to call it that since the voice sounded synthesised like a vocoder pedal — the voice was dry and directive with nary a drop of humour, it was all business. It was the voice of people who reflected what they thought the company needed back then, a tuck-in-your-shirt attitude, and it wasn’t until 2014 I think the voice started to loosen, the memo archives date back to the early 90s.

I fell into a rhythmic pattern writing the Operations Bulletins. Before I got to corporate I worked in the stores and sometimes read the bulletins they sent, which were kept in a binder on a sagging shelf above a computer in a jam-packed office with jackets and paper cups and first aid kits and all the money, in a safe.

The bulletins were black and white, all text, sometimes multiple pages, directing you what to do and when. Writing and editing them was easy, and after I transferred into the corporate office and went back to the stores and told the employees what I did there now, they smiled because it was something they could relate to even if they didn’t like the messages from corporate, at least they understood what I was talking about, which was rare with people from corporate.

For about six years I wrote Operations Bulletins and other correspondence: voicemails, emails, promotional messages, training content, manuals, online action items, abstracts, disaster recovery procedures, product recall specifications — video scripts for executives wishing everyone happy holidays, because that was the best way to put it.

I didn’t know the saying then, that all choices are compromises, and I don’t regret my choices really: I guess I was acting out of fear, which at least helps you focus, until it becomes your only focus and you can’t see beyond it. That’s what easy gets you.

My family and soon-to-be wife seemed content with my job because there was nothing to worry about, even if they never read what I wrote or cared to, or fully understood what I did, it didn’t matter. But on the rare occasion I found myself at a party say in Portland, with some hipsters and artist types and told them about my job but that it wasn’t the kind of work I really wanted to do, they’d break eye contact with me and I’d feel kind of embarrassed.

Years later I was on the run, fearing the walls caving in on me at work, perhaps so disconnected I couldn’t commit to it the way I had to anymore. I went back to my old group, a friend of mine now running it, and she said they were looking at ways to change the voice, to make it sound more real and personable. But I’d advanced in my pay grade and status to where it didn’t seem plausible to go back to my old position. Actors probably have the same problem after playing the same kind of role too long.

Maybe when you settle into a job that feels comfortable and alright you should stay there, even if it doesn’t challenge you the way you think it should. You can follow the template and earn a good living and tell yourself you supported your family, and in the end, it wasn’t so bad after all. Rather than write your own songs, you can cover hits from the ’70s and they’ll sound pretty close to the original if you just learn the chords and pay attention to what they were wearing. You can convince yourself and others and not have to worry so much, that’s what easy gets you.

 

About pinklightsabre

William Pearse publishes memoir, travel journals, poetry and prose, and lives in the Pacific Northwest.
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54 Responses to “All Right Now”

  1. Josh Wrenn says:

    I don’t know if I’ve ever read a post that captures the artistic integrity vs. eating struggle as well as this one.

    Liked by 2 people

    • pinklightsabre says:

      That’s cool, thank you Josh. I suppose I’m glad and not, that you can relate. Good to feel deep I think, man…better than having to fake it. Thank you for your comment and enjoy your evening. – Bill

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Lynn Love says:

    It’s tough, a real juggle and most of us aren’t able to get the ballance as we’d like it and still eat. We do our best and that’s all we can do 🙂

    Like

    • pinklightsabre says:

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts Lynn — we have no problem with the eating for now, can’t complain about that, funny to wind up like that Talking Heads song, “Same as it ever was” and wonder what happened after 20 years or so? Interesting times, “crisis” seems over-stated but it is a mid-life thing. Sounds like you can relate too.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Lynn Love says:

        Oh, absolutely! I turned 46 two days ago and though that in itself doesn’t bother me in the slightest, I do think – ‘I’ve been working as a (mildly disatisfied) florist for 23 years and in shops since I was 14. how the heck did that happen?’
        Thanks to study and writing, I have now discovered I am capable of more, but I am frustrated with myself that I didn’t find these things sooner.
        Well, as they say – better late than never. Some people pass whole lifetimes without finding something they love.

        Like

      • pinklightsabre says:

        I think we’re on the same train and hope it’s arriving at a destination we both have in mind.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Lynn Love says:

        Absolutely. Good luck on your journeys – both physical and metaphorical 🙂

        Like

      • pinklightsabre says:

        And you Lynn! Thanks, nice to know there are others with similar thoughts and dreams, it’s good.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. ksbeth says:

    i like what you write now much better.

    Like

  4. This is a well-written homily to regret. I have a whole rambling mess of thoughts about this, which may actually turn into a post of my own, so I’ll just say thanks – I enjoyed reading this post, Bill.

    Liked by 1 person

    • pinklightsabre says:

      Ah, so glad it hit home with you Michelle and great to hear from you. It’s funny, I was thinking about you and the email you sent toward the end of August, and how you and I were saddled up next to one another on Ross’s post this morning in the Like section, and just missing you. So thanks for reading today and I’m happy to touch on some sense of regret with you, for however dark and “Smiths” that sounds. I hope you’re well. – Bill

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks, Bill. Still scrabbling for some footing, but uneven progress is being made on the writing. Your blog post title has me listening to Rick Nelson’s “Garden Party”. Mellow tune to kick off the day.

        Like

      • pinklightsabre says:

        After about three weeks, I still have Free’s “All Right Now” going through my head from a cover band at the wine festival here in Germany. ‘Let’s move before they raise the parking rate, OW!’

        Liked by 1 person

      • walt walker says:

        I still have “All Right Now” in my head from your post. Woke up this morning and heard it in my head and quietly cursed you. In my head.

        Like

      • pinklightsabre says:

        It’s alright, it’s alright, it’s alright, it’s all-riiiiight

        Like

  5. Corporate environment’s not sane at all and constant contradictory expectations and shifts of political trends distract us form our job, even more if this job is not something we really aspire to. At he end of the day, we have put our best efforts in something that is not that productive and satisfactory. When this is repeated for years, it’s fairly common to see people feeling empty and worried and suddenly leave the company because they cannot take it anymore. The path you’ve taken might not be the easiest one but it surely is the sanest emotion wise. I hope you’ll succeed on your creative and personal journey.

    Liked by 2 people

    • pinklightsabre says:

      That’s beautiful – thank you! I believe you’ve commented on my blog about similar topics in the past, so thank you – we are traveling to France next week, to see our friends in Metz (I believe you are French?)! Thank you for taking the time to write and share your kind words. – Bill

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’m French and I live far from Metz, in Lyon. I take time to comment because your story resonates with mine, even if I was a manager when I left my job, I was tired to try and produce what was expected of me when all I really wanted was to do something different with my life. Now that my husband, daughter and I have moved, I feel way more serene but I dread the day i’ll find a job because being a writer is not a position in a corporate environment and my resume doesn’t fit small structures.

        Like

      • pinklightsabre says:

        Your English is terrific – I wish my French were the same. We passed through Lyon several years ago; I understand they have really good restaurants there, perhaps the best outside of Paris? In fact, we had to call roadside assistance there because we couldn’t figure out how to open the lid on our gas tank, for our rental car — terribly embarrassing, but not unusual for me. I’m glad the story resonated with you and wish you well – here’s to “fitting small structures,” well put as you have said.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you so much for saying so. yes we do have great food here. Lyon, is after all, called the capital city of French Gastronomy. I do not go to these restaurants to often though because I love to cook and the food they serve lends heavily on the stomach mostly because it cooked with butter and sometimes wine. I’m on the clueless side of the force when it comes to cars too. top gear is a fun show to watch but after that, I’m more of a pedestrian. I read your articles with pleasure even if I don’t comment often. Your trip is fascinating.

        Like

      • pinklightsabre says:

        Cooking at home is so much better and cheaper after all! One of my favourite cooks is French, Jacques Pépin, and last night I made his Seafood Gumbo recipe. Simple cooking is the best, at home, with friends. So glad you are enjoying my blog and merci beaucoup. – Bill

        Liked by 1 person

      • I’m going to shock, I know it but when it comes to cooking common sense, I find Gordon Ramsay is really good. When I’m lost in the kitchen I often wonder whet he would do, besides yelling and cleaning the fridge. He did study with the best french chefs…In my opinion good home cooking is always the result of well chosen ingredients, mastered cooking method and an intention to please who ever will sit at the table. After technique comes with practice… I could talk about cooking all night long 😀

        Like

      • pinklightsabre says:

        Yelling and cleaning the fridge? That’s the part of being a chef I can identify with most, not sure if this is a French word in origin, but I call it IRASCIBLE.

        Like

  6. sweetsound says:

    You are such a good writer! Your posts often leave me feeling… something that is hard to put into words. I’ve had jobs before that were comfortable but not challenging. It’s a settlement I’m not willing to accept, yet when I look back I often realize that those were the times I was most happy with life, more carefree. My friend likes to pose the question of whether or not human beings can ever really just be content. I don’t know the answer to that, but I tend to think not.

    Like

    • pinklightsabre says:

      Hey, thanks Cali – that means a lot. I looked back recently on comments from a year ago or so and we’ve traded similar thoughts for a while now. That idea of ‘content’ is interesting; a problem of the privileged maybe? I’ve been so lucky in life, things have often come easy to me, but this mid-40s thing knocked me out of whack; I know many can relate. Glad I’m not into buying a fast car or other typical things men do at this time in life. Instead, we have a black, 2004 Opel Astra Kombi that’s missing the rims, and looks a bit stark, but handles well and has a great sound system.
      Thanks for reading and your encouragement…and we’re going to be checking out that great city of Edinburgh in just over a month now, with your handy travel guide you sent me a while back. Cheers, – Bill

      Like

      • sweetsound says:

        That’s a good point – privileged enough to even be able to make the choice. I forget that sometimes, and could consider it a good thing from that perspective.
        The car, is it the one you just bought? I googled and all the returns are in what looks like German, so I’ll assume it is. Hooray I can’t wait for your adventure (within an adventure)! And enjoy France!

        Like

      • pinklightsabre says:

        Yes, the car is the one we bought here in Germany that was shockingly easy to buy and affordable, unlike my experiences in the States it seems, but let’s not go making generalisations here right? I just loved having them make the license plate for us, right in front of us, and the efficiency of it all. Thanks for the well wishes on the journey and happy you are enjoying it too!

        Liked by 1 person

  7. rossmurray1 says:

    Are you talking to me? Are YOU talking to ME!
    My youngest has warned me that I can’t quit or be fired until she graduates from the school I work at. (Employee discount, ya know.)

    Like

  8. Yahooey says:

    It amuses me to think my sister may have been reading you before me.

    Editing my professional missives is painful. So much neutral passive language that cannot be changed without pissing off all the right people. I try anyhow and end up with more bullets than a machine gun magazine.

    Like

    • pinklightsabre says:

      Neutral passive language, amen. We really lock into a different way of thinking that comes through with the language, in those contexts. I’m glad to be gone from it for now. Should I know your sister too? That’s funny!

      Like

  9. Pingback: “All Right Now” | UNITED FOR HUMAN RIGHTS

  10. alex says:

    To: All North American, I mean, North America, argh, okay, US, I mean, U.S. and Canadian stores. Wait, are the stores actually “Canadian” or is it Canada stores? And we really shouldn’t address it to “stores right, because technically, stores can’t read.
    From: Tar

    Like

    • pinklightsabre says:

      That’s terrifically cool Alexandra…thanks for having a look, so nice to hear from you — I’ll get out my Parker pen now and jot down an electronic mail for us.

      Like

  11. In the future, can you please stay out of my Big Box of Anxiety and refrain from using its contents as fodder for your blog? Because that hit uncomfortably close to home.

    Like

    • pinklightsabre says:

      I didn’t mean to hit your home Mark, I’m sorry (that’s what we do in the PNW, we apologise). My wife Dawn has suggested I do travelogue and focus on that, because she likes the energy in it whereas the more memoir, work-related stuff, not. I’m just trying to get it off my chest, but glad it hit home with you. Thanks for reading. – Bill

      Like

      • What?! Fuck that noise! That’s not what I meant at all! This is a fine post. Some excellent writing. If you start to censor what you write because you’re afraid of rattling a few delicate readers I’ll fly out there and whomp you, sucka. I wouldn’t advise this very often but, in this case, don’t listen to your wife.

        Like

      • pinklightsabre says:

        It’s all good man, even when it’s not. I ‘feel’ you. Thanks for writing back and your encouragement. Now, I start the gumbo.

        Like

  12. bshaffer52 says:

    This piece does hit a place near my heart. Everyone should work corporate for a year or two, enough to get baptised perhaps, but I really dislike should sentences. Slipping into Buddhism these days which makes it even tougher. Thanks for helping me find the exit….just a few more years, or perhaps one big moment of angst filled frustration just around the corner, which would be very un-Buddha.

    Like

    • pinklightsabre says:

      It’s good to hear from you my dear friend. Wishing we could meet up this weekend in Amsterdam. We’re actually going to see one of Dawn’s best friends who happens to be there for work! I’m glad you connected with the post; you and I probably have a lot we can relate to on this.

      Like

      • bshaffer52 says:

        Its been a treat following you, but as always would prefer to walk by your side. And remember that Ginger loves you like crazy, and that while we may all have some stone in our hearts, the Buddha abides, but I do love the darkness.

        Like

      • pinklightsabre says:

        The dark is where the good things grow, I think. Or the treasures hide.

        Like

  13. lupolympics says:

    I am awake reading this piece when I really should be sleeping…which means that I enjoyed it and that I’ll be dragging at my own job tomorrow!

    In all seriousness, I’m not sure why I was so intrigued by this post, but if I had to choose just one thing, I would have to go with the tone. It’s settled yet fearful, resigned yet hopeful all at the same time.

    Thanks for writing. I’m looking forward to reading more of your stuff 🙂

    Like

    • pinklightsabre says:

      Oh, I’m so glad you enjoyed it and took the time to read and comment, when you should have been resting for work…thanks for the thoughtful observations on the tone, I appreciate that. I am working on my voice and trying to find it, sometimes feels like trying to get a radio station to come in right. Thank you for listening my friend, and best to you and yours.

      Liked by 1 person

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