How can you tell if you're in the wrong job?

Opinion: John Rice

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By John Rice

Columnist / Staff reporter

A wise man told me how to determine whether you have a good job. Is the atmosphere healthy or toxic? Is the boss yelling and the employees fearful of losing their jobs or is management supportive? Is the work challenging but not too challenging? Is it satisfying? Is the pay sufficient for the level of responsibility?

I surveyed three American workers about their jobs. To protect their identities, I'm using their initials. The first is D.T. He is 71 years old and has just embarked on a brand new career. Here are his answers: 

"Toxic? Well, I'll admit that I'm constantly yelling at my employees and they are all terrified of losing their jobs. I fire people regularly. You call that 'toxic.' I call it business as usual.

"I'll admit the job has been challenging. I didn't know how difficult it would be to overhaul an entire health care system, ban immigrants and get another country to pay for our border wall. But it hasn't been too challenging. I've accomplished more in seven months, than my predecessors did in eight years.

"It hasn't been very satisfying so far. I got my pick for the Supreme Court and signed a slew of executive orders. But due to the incompetents around me and the fake critics, I haven't accomplished everything that I wanted. Still, I should be on the $20 bill by now.

"The pay is pathetic. I used to make billions; now I make nada. Plus, the job requires me to live in a drafty old house, instead of my luxury suite!" 

Based on his answers, D.T. is definitely in the wrong job.

Our next respondent is J.K. He is 36 years old and coincidentally also embarked on a brand new career only seven months ago. Here are his responses:

"I married the boss' daughter, so I wouldn't have to work a day in my life. But my father-in-law got this new job and he hired me to help. I wouldn't call the atmosphere toxic. Sure, he yells all the time and there's constant backstabbing. But it reminds me of the good old days at my dad's company.

"The job is challenging because my father-in-law put me in charge of everything on the planet. I'm responsible for bringing about Middle East peace and government reform. I'm supposed to end the opioid crisis while I reform the criminal justice system. I'm also our liaison to Mexico, China and the Muslim community.

"I'm getting satisfaction from seeing my enemies fired but not much else.

"The money, though, is ridiculous. I'm worth 200 million. Now, I get paid zilch for solving most of the world's problems." 

J.K. also appears to be in the wrong job.

Finally, we have J.R. He's 63 years old and has been stuck in the same career, as an investigator, for almost 40 years. 

"I'm self-employed, so it's tough to admit the atmosphere is toxic. I don't actually yell at myself except if I misplace the car keys or can't find my reading glasses. I hate my boss, though. He has no concept of personal time. He thinks nothing of having me work weekends, holidays and evenings. I only get a week's vacation — unpaid. I don't get any sick days, even after major surgeries. I only get a half hour for lunch."

"The work is like Mission Impossible, finding people with only their first name, or no name at all. It's way too challenging."

"It is very satisfying, though, when I locate the criminal or deadbeat I'm looking for. As for the pay, I have to become a collection agency to get my invoices paid." 

J.R. needs to retire. 

Happy Labor Day! 

John Rice is a columnist/private detective, who has seen his business and family thrive in Forest Park. He thoroughly enjoys life in the village and still gets a thrill smelling Red Hots, watching softball and strolling through cemeteries.

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