Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Working like athletes

I'm a clerk, a library clerk, and mostly I quite like the work, especially those parts that involve customer service, but I do wish my job were more like being a professional soccer player.

I wish that I had only one or two really important sessions of work per week. They would be an intense hour and a half session, with a 15 to 20 minute break in the middle. I would have to focus and concentrate intensely during this time. Every interaction would be considered crucial. It might be televised. I might get subbed out if I'm clerking badly, or on the other hand I might get subbed out if I'm clerking well but am exhausted from a huge amount of patron interaction.

But this wouldn't mean I would only be working one to three hours a week. There would be all the preparing for those sessions of work. There would be coming in to practice for them a couple of days every week, maybe doing some casual shelving sprints, reading, or low key front desk assistance. There would be the hanging out before and after, talking about work and work situations with my co-workers and manager, building camaraderie and game plans.

If this soccer approach were true, then the sprawling, unfocused, nearly meaningless workload of my job wouldn't be the measure of me, rather I would be defined by these highly scrutinized intense passages of perfected library work, by my mastery. Preparation would show on my ultimate performance, and so would the depth of my knowledge, my concentration and my focus. If I performed badly I might not get starting time on the front desk, but if I perform well other libraries might try to buy me at a huge bonus. It would always be clear who is good at the job and just how good they are, sometimes painfully clear.

Of course my job is not like this. But I like to pretend it is sometimes, just to myself, to keep going.

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