Stop Watching the Clock
I've worked for Clean Water Action for 7 years. It's safe to say I like my job, the people that I work with, and this organization. A few weeks ago I had a moment where all of those thoughts popped into my head.
Every night I lead a group of dedicated people into communities around Rhode Island and Massachusetts to gather members, ask people to get involved by sending letters to Representatives, and to get donations to support Clean Water. That night was a cold, rainy, winter February night. We had all piled back into our well-loved vehicle to head back to the office. It was a long drive back and there were a few new people in the car - and plenty of paperwork to finish.
On nights like that I find myself paying close attention to the conversations around me to make sure that even though it is cold and wet, we don’t dwell on it, and even though we all meet some people who don't join us, we don’t spend time talking about them. I was sitting in the middle row of the car and could easily hear the conversation in the front and back.
My ears perked up when I heard from the front row “Man, this was just one of those nights. Time just flew by. I looked at my watch and I was totally bummed that I had to come back to the car. People were so cool out there I could have kept going for another hour.” The response: “Seriously! I felt the same way. I guess this is what it’s like when it’s like a career, you know?” From the back seat I hear “Yeah! I’ve had so many jobs where I’m watching the clock thinking when can I go home?!” From there the conversation continued with no help from me about the difference between jobs and careers and how it has to do with actually caring about your work.
I wasn’t surprised by these thoughts, I have had them myself. It’s interesting that someone who is very highly trained in the skill of communication finds it such a struggle to explain what it feels like to do this job. I can’t explain what it feels like to have rain beating down on you, go up to a door, get invited into a mudroom and manage to get a stranger to focus on climate change or toxic chemicals while you are dripping all over their welcome mat. It’s an awesome feeling, but you won’t know it until you’ve done it. Then, you too can stop watching the clock.