“I’m Just Not Meant for a Desk Job”

This is arguably the most annoying thing that people say to me when I tell them about my job. I explain to them how I spend 8+ hours sitting in a beige cubicle, staring at my dual-monitors, writing technical documents for heating and cooling equipment and their response is often,

Oof, I could never do that. I’m just not meant for a desk job.

To which I laugh and ask them what they do for a living and they revel me in the life of a spin class instructor. I smile and nod while they talk, but a tiny piece of me boils under the surface. A tiny piece that wants to say,

Oh, you’re not a desk job person? You don’t want to spend your days in a building with windows that don’t open breathing in circulating fart air for the next forty years? Wow, that’s such a coincidence. You know who else doesn’t want to do that? EVERYONE ON THE PLANET.

No seven year old has brought their dream board into class on career day and talked about how they couldn’t wait to grow up and slowly die under fluorescent lighting. This is no one’s dream.

But you know what, Jessica, here’s something I do dream about.  Being able to pay my bills. If I didn’t get up and sit at a desk every day, I wouldn’t be able to do other boring things, such as buying organic bananas, paying my rent, and being able to go to the emergency room when I was internally bleeding thanks to suuuuper lame stuff like insurance.

It is not my love of lumbar-supportive desk chairs that pulls me back to the office every day. It’s my need to stay alive.

I will put money on it that if you that if you walked up to anyone who works a 9 to 5 desk job and asked them If I gave you a million dollars and a house on a tropical island, would you leave your current job? You won’t find a single one who says, Oooh, tempting, but I just don’t think I could ever leave my cubicle behind. I’d really miss the feeling of my hamstrings slowly shortening. 

The other thing, Brittney, is that you’re making some pretty bold assumptions about the desk-bound population when you say things like, I’m just, like, way too active, so I could never sit still that long. Because for some reason you think that people in corporate America go to work to wipe their Cheeto fingers on their dress pants and peruse Buzzfeed.

Nearly 86% of the American workforce have desk jobs. That’s a lot of people doing a lot of work. A lot of work that needs to get done in order for you to get your kale smoothies and weekly paychecks. Everything that you encounter in a day is affected by someone sitting in a cube somewhere. Cubicles make the world go-round….or….go-cube, I guess.

We don’t eat lunch at our desks because we’re lazy. We eat lunch at our desks because we’re busy.

And finally, Jennifer, sometimes the things that people are passionate about lead them to a desk. I love writing. It is the one thing I can do every single day and never grow tired of. Now, would I rather be strolling a beach somewhere on the west coast thinking up the next American literary classic? Of course, but for reasons discussed above, that probably won’t happen anytime soon. So, for the time being, I get to go to work every day, to my sad, beige block and write about how to install an actuator on a valve to regulate your system airflow. Yes, I am aware how boring that sounds. No, it is not my dream job.

The point is, that I get to come to work every day and get paid to be a professional writer. The thing I’ve always wanted to do. It has nothing to do with the cubicle.

So, next time someone tells you what they do for a living, remember that reminding them how much desk jobs suck the soul out of their very being is the last thing they want to hear and may lead to them making a passive-aggressive comment about how lame your Squats before Shots shirt is.

Photo: CC image courtesy of Mark Sebastian

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