blogging gobbledygook and such

Effort = Time

I watched one of my favourite movies, The Devil Wears Prada, again today. I don’t know why I’m so attracted to it, because it’s a somewhat typical chick flick. Maybe I love how Anne Hathaway looks. Maybe I love looking at the gorgeous girls and beautiful clothes. Maybe because it’s like a dream I can live in for one and a half hours: working in New York, in one of the biggest publication companies in the world, wearing divine outfits to work that’s free, having a cook for a boyfriend and living with him, having warm, affectionate friends…

When I watched it today, I felt I had more in common with Andy Sachs, the protagonist, than just dreaming to be like her.

Andy Sachs: Fresh graduate looking for her first job
sulz: Ditto

Andy Sachs: Takes up a job because of the opportunity she thinks she will gain
sulz: Ditto

Andy Sachs: Feels when she does something right, it’s unacknowledged but gets the hairdryer treatment when she messes up because she’s still new
sulz: Ditto

Andy Sachs: Thinks she is trying her best but her colleagues doesn’t because they are putting far more effort than she is
sulz: Ditto

Andy Sachs: Believes (in the end) that work shouldn’t consume her and that she doesn’t want to do hurtful things to get ahead in the rat race
sulz: Ditto

I’ve always liked the ending, because I felt she made the right choice in leaving the shitty job. I’m sure I would’ve left much earlier if I were her. The character’s friends and family wanted her to quit the job too, as it was taking so much of her time, not to mention the unreasonable demands by her dragon lady boss and how she was turning into someone her loved ones didn’t understand.

While life in the movies are often exaggerated, I thought the ending offered a good lesson to people about work. Now that I’m actually working, I see that the ending is unrealistic. The fact is that if you want to work your way up, you have to put in more effort than your peers. And among the things your boss would count as effort is by seeing the amount of time you spend at the office.

This is where I would not excel in, work wise. I’ve said before that if I am more in love with my job, I would probably not mind putting more time in. I’m questioning that statement now… As a kid, whether I enjoyed school or not, I always wanted to get home ASAP. When the bell rang, I would immediately rush out of class (as soon as the teacher allowed, of course) so that I could beat the human traffic, students who would jam up the stairwell as they go down leisurely. I would be sticky, sweaty, hungry and tired after a day of studying, so I felt it was pointless to take my time when I could get a head start and be home early. This has been a habit I have practised my entire schooling life, including college; then it was also wiser to get home early, since most of the time classes were over before the rush hour, so it would be silly to get stuck in a traffic jam because it not only wasted time but petrol! I don’t think my habit means I loved school less than those who took their time to get home or stayed back for whatever reasons – I’m sure you know how much I loved college!

Working now, the situation is different. My time to go home does not anymore depend on the clock, but on how urgent my workload is, or how demanding my company’s clients are, or how strict my bosses are. Currently, it is a slow period for my company, so I get to go home by the clock. But once the real work begins, I will be at its mercy. As it is, I think I am gaining a not-so-positive reputation for my on-the-dot leaving of office at the end of the day, because all my colleagues do not leave on time even when it’s not a busy season. They usually go home around half an hour after working hours are over. While they sometimes come in late, some of them even come earlier to work. If compared, I can never measure up – they come in earlier and leave later!

At school, the question of how much effort I was putting in never really came up. Most of the time, I was aware of where I stood in each subject; that’s to say, if I was weak in a certain subject it was because I made a conscious decision not to focus on it, and there was no consequence because my parents never punished me for bad grades. They basically left me to deal with educational issues on my own. At college, my grades belonged in the top half of the class and for some reason, my course came more naturally to me than school had ever been. It was no walk in the park, but I never felt like I was struggling to pass classes. If I wanted to better myself then, all I had to do was pick up my books, and I could do it anytime I wanted to. I suppose it was also easy to me because half the time I would not do most of the homework we were assigned to do (the ungraded ones, that is) and sometimes needed help from friends when the lecturers asked for answers in class orally. ๐Ÿ˜›

I’m barely one month into this job, so I’m still making many mistakes and hopefully am learning from them. I wonder, though, if I am ever settled in there, will I always be considered less committed and not putting in as much effort as others because I like to go home ASAP? And if I work elsewhere some day, will this habit of mine be my weakness? I suppose I need to evaluate this aspect of me…

Comments on: "Effort = Time" (15)

  1. Bosses notice clock-watchers. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Also desperate ladder climbers find sly ways to let the boss know about other workers shortcomings. When evaluation time comes around all these things are running around in their thoughts. It can cost you come raise and/or promotion evaluation.

    sulz: yeah, that’s what i’m worrying about. i still haven’t decided if i will stay for good there, but i don’t have any other prospects, so… i’m not sure how to change my attitude because i’ve been doing it my whole life, and i get anxious when i see i’m staying beyond what the clock says i shouldn’t!

  2. theunhappycamper said:

    I seen that movie once, I liked it, but it is for sure a one time movie.

    sulz: but i just enjoy watching it over and over again for some reason i don’t even know!

  3. I guess what this means is, if you want to get a better reputation in the company, you need to leave work later.

    Wait, if effort = time, and time = money, and money = the root of all evil, doesn’t that mean effort is the root of all evil?

    sulz: yeah, and like crazyasuka said, i don’t think that’s fair. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ oh well, don’t remind me – life isn’t fair, right!

    haha, nope… effort is a universal concept, but money is a man concept, i think. i mean, if we live in a barter society or where money is not a concept, effort still counts. but like my dee likes to say: god = love, love = blind, god = blind?? well, i suppose god is blind to his children’s faults when they seek forgiveness, yeah? ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Oh I love how Anne Hathaway looks. *drools*

    I think it’s ridiculous to put such a value on unpaid overtime. Do you have a contract? Do they specify the schedules? Time of arrival and time of leave? I know it might be kind of unspoken, but it makes no sense to me. You are doing your job. You are not runing home leaving your responsibilities. If they get to keep you there when the workload is high, do you think it’s fair that you stay longer when the workload is low?

    I think my ideal job would be something freelance. I find it hard to take crap from authorities most of the time. BUT, I know what it’s like to work in the bottom of the hierarchy. And only because you acknowledge to be in the bottom doesn’t mean you allow them to do anything with you. Phrases like “it’s this way everywhere” and “that’s how the world works” never convinced me. If I hadn’t gotten sicker it would have been interesting to find out where that would have gotten me.

    Hey apparently I did rant. A lot. I’m sorry.

    Anyway, just a question. Are the changes you’re considering really good for your job (will they get you somewhere you want)? or is this about keeping the harmony (you want your coworkers to like you)? Whatever the answer, is it worth it?

    sulz: me too! she’s like this living, breathing porcelain doll. ๐Ÿ˜€

    to my bosses, being responsible means staying back if the deadline is near or if clients demand that something be done on that day itself. i just only learnt that paid overtime is something employees can’t ask but only employers can offer – i didn’t know that before. but yeah, i pointed out that same question you asked. and it’s those same phrases you aren’t convinced by that get thrown back at me. ๐Ÿ˜€

    freelance jobs are impossible until you work yourself up, get contacts and establish yourself. that means a lot of slogging at the bottom with unpaid overtime until then! ๐Ÿ™‚ i suppose since this is the only game i can play at the moment, i shall have to play by its rules even if i don’t like it…

    or i could be a teacher. ๐Ÿ˜€

  5. The point you’re making here certainly applies to me and my work. When we are finished feeding and sorting freight on my belt, if a supervisor tells me “ok you can go,” i ask to go to another part of the building to work and half the time another part of the building needs somebody. I’m having to fight for extra hours. haha!

    sulz: haha, i don’t blame you, if you can avoid work why not? ๐Ÿ˜›

  6. I think this clock watching attitude is common when you start working. In school all you do is wait for the hour to get over and then rush out of the class!

    I think we all have this inbuilt in us, and when we have more work experience and less school experience, then that helps in shedding the clock watching!

    sulz: so i’m not a lost cause just yet? ๐Ÿ˜› hopefully i’ll get over it!

  7. Ms. Johnny said:

    never really watch that movie from the beginning.
    i am a potential workaholic….

    sulz: not potential, proven already! you work at that place how long you know… not just in years but in frequency!

  8. firerocket said:

    If you have a job, then shouldn’t you be loving it?
    As in, why didn’t you wait for something that you really wanted to?
    Maybe I’m wrong in the way I think, but I’m still a high school senior, knowing less than nothing about jobs.
    So, correct me please.

    sulz: well, sometimes life is not as simple as that, though i did once think like you. ๐Ÿ™‚ i took this job because i liked the sound of it. right now, i am getting to know the job and usually in this process there’s a bit of love/hate going on. so far, more hate than love, but i’m hoping the love will grow. i also took up this job because i hated even more the previous one!

  9. I love that film – nice light entertainment… and beautiful clothes (dribble)

    Regarding the job, not all places are like that but it is pretty common. In Britain I think it is worse near London, up North where I live, people still have an expectation that they will be paid for their over-time. Since no-one works for free the bosses can’t use the old peer pressure tactic to make everyone stay later than they should.

    Trouble is, if one person works for free then the expectation starts that everyone else should. Makes you wonder what the unions fought for doesn’t it?

    sulz: yup, i think that’s why it appeals to me… i don’t exactly have to think watching that. ๐Ÿ˜†

    well, it’s only reasonable to expect to be paid for how much you do. when you put it from the union perspective, it seems even more unreasonable that malaysians consider staying back an accepted practice!

  10. You’re right, sulz, sometimes we take and/or stay in jobs we don’t like for many reasons, including the need to survive. We do what we must, to keep body and soul together.

    And Andie finally realized that by discovering her soul was not together at all. Working for Anna Wintour can’t be easy. Being Anna Wintour’s soul can’t be easy either.

    sulz: haha, and of course before i actually started working i believed we could not be in a job we dislike if we choose to! well, technically, the choice is always there but it is a very difficult one to make, and most of the time foolish if made…

    it wasn’t her soul that was just messed up but also her relationships! she was neglecting her boyfriend and friends, and that’s not good no matter how much you love your job or how determined you are to succeed in it. that’s why miranda priestly *ahemannawintourahem* had to hold on to her job so tightly, she had nothing left…

  11. Posteret makes a good point. The ideal conditions to fight overtime expectations is that all the employees work together. If no one is willing to give their work away for free, the bosses don’t have much power there.

    But if people do it… it’s hard. We had a similar case in the internship. In one group we were not in the same wavelenght so there were pet-interns doing whatever the bosses asked, making it harder for the rest of us to say no. However most of the times we agreed, and we really had a big power there.

    I understand this is hard for you because you don’t get along with the coworkers. I still don’t think there’s something wrong with you. You’re just in a disadvantageous position, that’s all.

    sulz: sometimes it’s not the bosses, but the clients who demand something be done by that day. then our bosses who want to please the clients do it at the expense of our time… but we’ll see how often it happens when it does. my colleagues have sort of ‘taught’ me how to buy time with clients so that we can do the necessary changes without being too rushed for it. whether it works, depends on which client it is! *cross fingers*

  12. […] we slowly arrive to my second subject. Popular American movies. I just red sulz’s postย mentioning The Devil Wears Prada. It was an “okay” film for me, but got me thinking. […]

  13. OMG!! Now they are making movies based on your life!!! ๐Ÿ˜›

    sulz: hahahaha! i wish they didn’t choose anne hathaway ‘cos now that makes me look bad! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  14. gentledove said:

    There is another choice Sulzy babes, you could take a non career job, washing up or scrubbing floors [Sulz on hands and knees looking at her face in the polished floor ๐Ÿ˜ฎ ] oh there must be a poem there somewhere.

    sulz: oh no, i’m not that hardworking! i’d have to work double the hours to earn what i do now that way…

  15. one would think a teaching job is strictly 10 to 5 (typical timing in India) but it isnt so..many times I had to leave late due to some work or other. Once when our department was preparing for a education team visit and ranking, we had to stay till 8 pm even and make this file or that file. Even now I have to go in evening once a week to visit the girls hostel. So one must give up the clock to have a good impression.

    sulz: wow, even teachers too huh? yesterday i skipped half my lunch break to finish a job. is that good? *hopeful* ๐Ÿ˜ณ

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