The average American woman with at least a bachelor’s degree will have had 11.2 jobs by the time she is 40 years old. My new job as the Readers’ Services Supervisor is my 17th, but I had 11 of those before I graduated from college. (Hey – stop trying to guess my age!). I’ve been reminiscing about all the people I have met at work over the years. Some of them have turned out to be friends for life, but friend or foe, one truth remains; your feelings about your job have less to do with what you do and more to do with whom you do it.
Such is the message of the best fiction book I’ve read all year, Then We Came to the End by newcomer Joshua Ferris. The book is set at a
This is a very funny book about a painful (and timely!) subject. Much of the humor arises from the fact that no one ever seems to be doing any work at this agency. The main activity seems to be gathering in each other’s offices and obsessing about who will get fired next. In the meantime, Ferris demonstrates just how dependent we are on our officemates to get us through the work day. And why not? We spend more time with them then we do with our families for five days a week.
This is a clever book whose message sneaks up on you at the end, and which has surprising resonance. I don’t know how many discussions it has spawned in my circles: what was the best job you ever had? the worst job? the best boss? the worst? Were you ever surprised how much you missed people after you changed jobs? And whatever happened to so-and-so? Perhaps Ferris is right – in the end, it is the people and not the job.
You can find more information about Joshua Ferris at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joshua_Ferris including links to radio interviews.
By the way, the statistic in the opening sentence was found in the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics at http://www.bls.gov. Crackerjack reference librarians Gwen L. and Steven G. located it for me. Nice to work with generous people, isn’t it?