So, I’ve been working for the same employer, Western Washington University, for 10 years. I’m 46-years old and I have had to submit a web-based timesheet every two weeks since day one. Prior to working at Western, I hadn’t had to submit a timesheet or punch a clock since a summer job when I was a college student.
When I was hired at the university it was nothing short of a miracle. I’d spent the few years prior bouncing around several jobs, I was laid off twice, my wife’s newish private practice was slow to make money initially, our son was born, and we tore off the roof of our house and built a second story.
I’d fantasized for years about working at Western, remembering how much I loved campus life at my alma mater, Rutgers University, remembering fondly my visits to my mother’s office in the Rutgers publications office, up a spiral staircase in a 200-year old building where she worked for many years.
Meanwhile, Bellingham, for decades, has been saturated with highly-educated people, lured here by the quality of life despite a dearth of family wage jobs. When I got the gig at Western, I beat out 75 other applicants, and I’ve been fortunate to remain here on this stunningly beautiful campus, an oasis of academia, arts, and culture, and a 20-minute bicycle ride or 30-minute walk from my home.
And yet, my ego has been chronically tripped up by the timesheet thing. I remember early on, complaining about it to co-workers, bragging (though, rather than bragging, I thought of it as justification at the time) about how I’d worked for 15 years in social services, trusted all that time by a variety of non-profits to do my job in as much or as little time as it took.
You’d think that after 10 years I’d have found acceptance, that I’d have figured out that the requirement to submit a timesheet is not a personal insult. Instead, subconsciously, I’ve been nursing a wounded ego, which manifests as having difficulty consistently submitting my timesheet on time. I have reminders set in my Outlook calendar that I manage to ignore on a regular basis, creating a nasty stress hell for myself, regularly waking in the middle of the night, realizing I’d once again missed the deadline, and as a result having to go to the
principal’s office department director’s secretary’s office in order to submit it late.
Oh, I still think it’s a ridiculous waste of time and university resources to make college-educated employees submit timesheets, timesheets that have to be reviewed and approved and processed by other college-educated employees. But that’s something I have absolutely no control of, whereas I do have the ability to tell my ego to take a hike and stop sabotaging my peace of mind.
(Note: This post takes its title from the title of an EP by The Flaming Lips.)